Gifu Prefecture is a beautiful part of Japan famous for its traditional culture and history. It also has some pretty amazing food that is truly unique to this region of the country. A visit to Gifu isn’t complete until you have tried some of these local delicacies.
Gifu Prefecture, located in the “Heart of Japan” is blessed to be surrounded by natural beauty and landscapes ranging from valleys and rivers to vast mountain peaks high in the Northern Japan Alps. This landscape is famous for its hiking, skiing and hot springs, but is also reflected in the diversity of the food that can be found in Gifu.
The following is my Top 5 Must Try Food in Gifu.
1. Hida Beef
Photo : Catherine Mak on FlickrHida Beef or Hida-gyû as it is known in Japanese is year after year voted the best beef in Japan along with Kobe and Matsusaka. The Hida region is located in the northern part of Gifu Prefecture, and is an area known for its ancient mountains and hot springs.
The beef is highly prized and famous for its thick marbled fat and quality. You can find Hida Beef everywhere in Hida Takayama from steak, Hida beef burgers and sukiyaki to sushi, takoyaki and ramen toppings.
This beef is in my opinion the best in Japan and is so tender that it literally melts in your mouth.
2. Kei-chan Chicken
Photo : 明宝 出版 on FlickrKei-chan Chicken is a famous dish from the Gujo district of Gifu Prefecture. It features chicken which has been marinated in miso, soy sauce and garlic. The chicken is pan-fried with vegetables such as cabbage and onions giving it a stir-fry like appearance. It is a very tasty dish that can be found all over the Gujo and Hida districts of Gifu, and is a great stamina dish in the heat of summer to provide energy.
I love this dish over a bed of fluffy white rice. The taste can vary from shop to shop as well as each family has its own unique recipe.
3. Hoba Miso
Photo : hayami on FlickrHoba Miso is another dish from the Hida region of Gifu Prefecture and is probably Gifu’s best known speciality. The dish features special leaves (hōba) which have been dried. The leaves are topped with a sweet savoury miso paste which is mixed with vegetables such as leek, shiitake mushrooms and pickles. The whole thing is heated over a charcoal fire.
You don’t actually eat the leaves but the tasty stuff on top of the leaves. It is a pretty simple dish that tastes exquisite, and is best enjoyed with a bowl of steaming rice. Hoba Miso is a great snack or side dish with some Japanese sake.
4. Ayu Sweetfish
Photo : Dan Mills on FlickrThe ultimate Gifu food and the pride and joy of the prefecture, Ayu is fished from the famed Nagara River. Ayu is a wild sweetfish found in rivers that has been fished here in Gifu Prefecture for over 1,300 years. The Nagara River is one of the cleanest rivers in Japan with the upper stream in Gujo particular pristine. The cleaner the water the better tasting the Ayu, so Gujo has the best reputation for Ayu in Japan.
“Gujo Ayu” is regarded as a delicacy with the tasty treats shipped directly to the Michelin starred restaurants of Tokyo.
The best way to eat Ayu is grilled over an open flame and sprinkled with salt. The season is from summer to autumn.
5. Takayama Ramen
Photo : bluegreen405 on FlickrThis unique ramen dish is found in Hida Takayama and features thin ramen noodles in a soy based stock. Takayama’s ramen is also called “chuka soba” or Chinese style ramen. It comes in many different varieties ranging from vegetarian to various types of meat.
I enjoyed a bowl of hot Takayama Ramen topped with Hida Beef and let me tell you that it was simply amazing.
I hope these dishes have enticed you to visit Gifu Prefecture one day and not only explore the famous sights and attractions, but indulge in some of its local delicacies.