While people might think of okonomiyaki when I mention Osaka, and matcha when I mention Kyoto, the island of Shikoku is an area where famous local foods do not come to mind so easily. However, each of Shikoku’s 4 prefectures–Kagawa, Tokushima, Kochi, Ehime–has a variety of foods famous to the area.
1. Sanuki Udon
Flying into Kagawa’s Takamatsu Airport, one of the advertisements you cannot miss is how Kagawa is touted as the Udon Prefecture. Sanuki udon is Kagawa’s proud product, and it’s well-known in other parts of Japan too. The udon dish can be eaten at any meal, and in a variety of ways. I had mine served hot with a croquette added to it, as well as cold on another occasion. The Bukkake-udon is one of the more classic types to try, served with fish broth with soy sauce, with a slice of lemon on top of the udon. I personally found the udon to be chewier and thicker than those I’ve had at Tokyo, though the texture, taste, and price of each udon dish definitely differed across the various restaurants!
2. Udon Ice Cream
If having udon for your meals aren’t enough, how about you have it for dessert too! Trying out this udon ice cream at Kotohira in Kagawa was a daring try by my friend, as we wondered how on earth udon ice cream would taste like. To put it simply, it was slightly strange, though surprising. The way the ice cream was layered onto the cone made it look like strips of udon noodles, and the spring onions sprinkled on top gave a very distinctive taste to the ice cream. For the not-so-adventurous, you can consider trying the Oiri Softserve instead. The colorful balls and milky taste is definitely a much sweeter experience!
3. Katsuo no Tataki
Moving on to Kochi, a famous dish that you have to try in the area is Katsuo no Tataki. Katsuo refers to the bonito fish, and Tataki refers to the way the fish is served, seared on the outside by straw fire but raw on the inside and intended to be eaten as sashimi. You can opt to have the dish served with a sprinkle of salt or vinegar, and it usually comes with diced garlic and spring onion as well as a serving of lemon sauce. I tried this at Hirome Ichiba, a food court in downtown Kochi near the Kochi Castle. The store selling it had endlessly long queues, a testament to the tasty katsuo they prepared!
Photo by Nikita from Russian Federation (Yuzu oranges) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia CommonsKochi is famous for the production of yuzu. As such, all kinds of yuzu products, from fresh yuzu juice, to yuzu tabasco juice, and yuzu flavored nuts, can be seen in many shops in Kochi. It’s hard to recommend a specific food to try, but you should definitely try a yuzu-flavored product when you’re in Kochi!
Various yuzu-flavored snacks for sale
5. Grilled Chicken on the Bone
It might be unfathomable why a simple grilled chicken leg is considered as a famous local food. But right in Kagawa, you will see plenty of izakayas and yakitori stalls selling this grilled chicken on the bone (骨付鳥, hone-tsuki-dori). A whole chicken leg is served, marinated with spices and grilled to tender perfection, savory on the inside and crispy on the outside. It is often served on a hot plate, and you can enjoy the tender meat together with some other sides such as grilled rice or a jug of beer.
Those are my top 5 must-eat foods of Shikoku! Itadakimasu!