Shizuoka prefecture may not be the first prefecture on your foodie list, but it should surely be! Shizuoka boasts some delectable specialties, from gyoza to oden. You don’t want to miss out!
１．Japanese green tea
When you think of Shizuoka prefecture the first thing that comes to mind is probably Mt.Fuji, but the second thing would have to be green tea, the prefecture’s largest crop export and source of pride. Few things will get between a Shizuokan and their green tea! Green tea is enjoyed at most meals, and the good health and longevity of Shizuokans is often attributed to its frequent consumption.
In Shizuoka City you can even enjoy green tea ice cream at Nanaya, which offers matcha ice cream at various levels of intensity, from 1 to 7. Matcha-lovers are encouraged to try level 7, though be warned, the flavor definitely packs a punch!
2. Unagi (Eel)
Hamamatsu is Japan’s top producer of eel due the abundance of this freshwater fish in Lake Hamana-ko. Though it is not always the cheapest option, Hamamatsu eel is a true delicacy that people travel from far and wide to savor. The most common way to enjoy eel is over a bed of rice as part of a set with various side dishes to compliment the meal.
One of Hamamatsu’s biggest souvenirs is a sweet, flaky sweet known as Unagi Pie, which is essentially a butter cookie topped with a small amount of eel powder. Despite the name, the treat does not have a fishy taste, and it is more of a novelty than an eel dish. If you ever happen to be in the area, be sure to check out the Unagi Pie factory!
Shizuoka City is well known for its unique oden, which consists of skewers of various ingredients, left to marinate in dashi broth. The difference is in the broth, which is unusually dark, almost black, but which allows ingredients to absorb maximum flavor. Common ingredients include konnyaku (Konjac), daikon (Japanese radish), jaga imo (potato), and hard-boiled egg to name a few. One of the best places to try Shizuoka oden is at the Aoba Koen Oden Alley, an entire alleyway dedicated solely to small oden shops that seat no more than 5-10 people at bar-style counters, and supply a cozy, homely atmosphere through good company, good drinks, and great oden.
When Oden Alley opens up at 16:30 and at night, it becomes illuminated by a blaze of red lanterns, each beckoning you in to its respective oden shop. Try as many different types of oden as you can, and dip your skewers in mustard for some extra tang!
Gyoza, sometimes known as “pot-stickers” outside of Asia, are pan-fried dumplings filled with vegetables and meat or seafood. Originating in China, gyoza were thought to have been first introduced in Japan following World War II. Since then, gyoza has grown in popularity across the nation, but nowhere is it more popular than in Hamamatsu, Japan’s gyoza capital.
Hamamatsu is Japan’s biggest consumer of gyoza, so it is no wonder that these delicious dumplings can easily be found anywhere in the city. To help visitors locate the gyoza hotspots, many tourist information centers in the city even offer a Hamamatsu Gyoza Map! Whether you enjoy your gyoza alone or as a side dish complimenting a heaping bowl of ramen, don’t forget to enjoy your Hamamatsu-style gyoza topped off with fresh bean sprouts and dipped in a delightful mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, and red pepper flakes in sesame oil.
5. Sawayaka Hamburg Steak
Sawayaka is a chain of hamburg steak restaurants that exists solely in Shizuoka prefecture. Many visitors come to Shizuoka just to delight in some of this tender, juicy hamburg. The hottest item on the menu is the genkotsu hamburg – a large, round hamburg that is cut for you as it is served to you. Choose between two sauces to top off your delicious steak. Beware of the sizzling juices! Customers are given a paper mat to hold up to protect themselves from splattering as the juices and sauce sizzle on the hot plate. But don’t worry, holding this barrier up is a Sawayaka tradition!