What to Eat in Hiroshima - 7 Best Local Dishes
Hiroshima prefecture located in the Chugoku region, west of Kyoto and Osaka, is a popular travel destination for foreign tourists and Japanese locals alike. It’s an area of gorgeous scenery, including one of Japan’s top three most renowned scenic locations, Miyajima Island. The prefectural capital Hiroshima City is also home to the Peace Memorial Park, a place of deep and solemn historical importance that draws over a million visitors a year.
Hiroshima is also a region with a lively food culture and an abundance of delicious seafood, due to its long coastline along the Seto Inland Sea. If you’re planning a trip to Hiroshima, here’s a guide to the wonderful Hiroshima food to try.
7 of the Best Types of Hiroshima Food
Oysters are one of the most famous things to eat in Hiroshima, and the area produces two-thirds of all the oysters in Japan. The Seto Inland Sea provides optimal conditions for oyster farming, and every year the Hiroshima Oyster Road opens up along the shores of Hiroshima Bay with numerous kinds of oyster eateries available to serve the public. Oysters can be enjoyed raw or used in all kinds of dishes, but one particular specialty of Hiroshima is a hot pot dish known as “kaki no dotenabe”. The dish features succulent Hiroshima oysters simmered in an earthenware pot lined with sweet miso bean paste, together with tofu, vegetables, and a flavorful broth.
If you’ve ever tried okonomiyaki, the savory mixed pancake from Osaka, then the Hiroshima version called will seem quite familiar. Called Hiroshima okonomiyaki, is similar to the Osaka version in that it contains sliced cabbage, pork, egg, seafood and batter, is cooked on an iron teppan griddle, and is served topped with condiments such as fruity Japanese barbeque sauce, mayonnaise, fish flakes, pickled ginger, and powdered seaweed. However, the main differences with Hiroshima okonomiyaki is that it contains yakisoba noodles in addition to other ingredients, and it is fried in layers rather than mixing all of the ingredients together in batter before cooking. Which version is more delicious is a topic of heavy debate between people from Hiroshima and Osaka. If you’re wondering about what to eat in Hiroshima that is unique to the region, this dish is essential eating.
Momiji-manju is a famous local specialty that is frequently purchased by visitors to Hiroshima as an omiyage, a type of food souvenir in Japan. It’s a small cake in the shape of a maple leaf, a traditional symbol of Hiroshima, that’s filled with sweet red bean paste or flavors like matcha green tea, chocolate, and cream cheese. Be sure to pick up a few momiji-manju cakes to treat your friends and family back home to some delicious Hiroshima food.
Tsukemen is a noodle dish that’s best described as “soupless ramen”. It’s made with the same noodles and toppings as ramen, but rather than soup, the ingredients are served with a bowl of concentrated dipping sauce on the side. In Hiroshima, the dipping sauce is a hot and spicy soup flavored with fiery red chilies, which can be customized to your prefered spice level. This dish is incredibly popular in the Hiroshima area—even more so than ramen!
Koiwashi are baby sardines or anchovies. They are usually dried and sold, but in Hiroshima koiwashi are eaten fresh—a local delicacy. Koiwashi can be grilled, eaten sliced up as sashimi, or used in dishes such as sushi or fried tempura. Koiwashi are packed with umami flavor and contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Because the tiny baby fish are so delicate, there aren’t many opportunities to enjoy fresh koiwashi, so you’ll definitely want to try them in Hiroshima!
While Hiroshima is more of a tsukemen area than a ramen one, there are two tasty local varieties of ramen. One is Onomichi ramen, a style of ramen noodles sold around Onomichi city in Hiroshima prefecture. The soup is made with a soy sauce base mixed with clear chicken broth and seafood from the local Seto Inland Sea for a light texture, with melted chunks of fat added for a richer taste. The flavorful soup is paired with flat noodles of medium thickness that go well with the light texture of the soy sauce-chicken broth.
Around the island of Miyajima with its famous shrine that seems to float on the water, anago (conger eel) is a specialty seafood that can be caught in abundance from the sea. It’s used in a highly popular local dish called “anago-meshi”, or grilled eel over rice. Soft and fluffy eel meat is steamed with rice, imparting a wonderful color and flavor to every grain. The rice is topped with another piece of anago roasted over charcoal for a smoky aroma, and the dish is flavored with just a bit of soy sauce. If you can’t make it out to Miyajima for a fresh bowl of anago-meshi, you can always pick up an ekiben (train station bento lunch) offered at major train stations in Hiroshima.
Try These Top Things to Eat in Hiroshima to Fully Experience the Region’s Offerings
For any traveler to Japan, Hiroshima is a must-visit location not only for its historical significance but also for its delicious food. Be sure to give these incredible Hiroshima eats a try on your next trip, and if you’re looking for a restaurant, browse Gurunavi’s Hiroshima restaurant listing. Itadakimasu!