Kagoshima Food Guide: Five Local Summer Foods To Try | CoolJapan

With temperatures hovering between 30 to 35 degrees Celcius on average in Japan, locals are always looking for ways to stay cool, including being mindful of the types of food they eat. While each prefecture has its own unique summer dishes, this time, we are casting the spotlight on Kagoshima, which has a severely underrated foodie scene.


Sunflower Field In Kagoshima

An idyllic summer scene overlooking Mt. Kaimon in Ibusuki City, Kagoshima. Photo from: ©K.P.V.B


Here is our Kagoshima food guide featuring some local food and drinks for a chilled-out summer. 


Kurobuta Pork



If Kobe has its beef, Kagoshima has its pork. World-renowned for its top-quality pork, Kagoshima is the biggest producer of pork in Japan. It’s not enough for the pork to be cultivated in Kagoshima, there is a stringent set of standards in order for the meat to be given the “Kagoshima Kurobuta Pork” stamp of approval.


Shabu Shabu Spread

Shabu shabu (a type of Japanese hot pot) is a popular way to enjoy Kurobuta pork, and is enjoyed with seasonal vegetables like sweet corn and lettuce in the summer Photo from: ©K.P.V.B


As such, Kagoshima Kurobuta Pork is prized for its soft, juicy texture and clean-tasting flavours — perfect for those balmy months. Pork is also high in protein and low in calories, which is great for staving off fatigue.


Nagashi Somen



Translated to “flowing noodles”, nagashi somen is one of the most popular summertime dishes in Kagoshima. Often involving lots of cheering and laughing, eating nagashi somen is a traditional practice where the noodles are poured down a stream of icy cold water in a long bamboo flume. Diners sit around the bamboo flume and use chopsticks to pick up the fast-flowing strands. These days, however, restaurants such as Tosenkyo Somen Nagashi have turned to automation to serve the stream of noodles.


Tosenkyo Somen Nagashi Restaurant

Diners enjoying nagashi somen at Tosenkyo, a popular nagashi somen restaurant in Kagoshima. Photo from: ©K.P.V.B


While the noodles are served in an automated nagashi somen machine, the restaurant still uses cold spring water sourced from Tosen Gorge. Pure spring water gushes from the bottom of the gorge and is famous for keeping a consistently cool 13 degrees Celsius throughout the year — which means you can enjoy nagashi somen in all seasons. This refreshing dish is especially yummy when dunked into the dipping sauce, which is made with soy sauce, sugar, dashi and bonito flakes.



Keihan


Singapore may have its Hainanese chicken rice but Kagoshima also has a firm favourite of the same calibre, keihan. Probably the most famous meal from the island of Amami Oshima, which is accessible by ferry from Kagoshima city, this dish features chicken strips, thinly sliced omelette, green onion, shiitake mushrooms and dried seaweed packed atop plain rice.


Keihan Dish In A Bowl

Keihan is a flavourful chicken rice dish that originates from the island of Amami Oshima. Photo from: ©K.P.V.B


The entire dish is then submerged in a light chicken broth for a moreish meal. While the nutrition-packed keihan can be enjoyed all year round, its light flavours make it especially ideal for the hot summer months.


Kurozu


Black vinegar is another regional treasure in Kagoshima, especially prized for its health benefits such as improved blood circulation and pressure, a boost in metabolism and a decrease in fatigue. Fermented over a period of one to three years, kurozu has a complex flavour profile — a slightly acidic tang with a hint of sweetness.


Vinegar Jars In Sakamoto Kurozu

At Sakamoto Kurozu, the vinegar is stored in rows of black-glazed earthenware vessels. Photo by: ©K.P.V.B


In the summer, locals infuse the vinegar with fruits such as Japanese citrus, apples or bananas to create a sweet-sour syrup that is then mixed with cold soda or ice water. These drinks are also sold as packet drinks, which is best enjoyed cold for an invigorating pick-me-up.





Shirokuma



What is summer without an icy cold sweet treat? While this dessert can now be found across Japan, it is said to have originated from Kagoshima. Here, the shaved ice dessert is covered with condensed milk and topped with seasonal fruits. Each serving is about 16cm high and about 14.5cm around, so be sure to come hungry!


(Cover photo from: ©K.P.V.B)

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  1. 1.Tosenkyo Somen Nagashi
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