Destinations

NORTHERN IWATE

Ahead of the opening of the Hokkaido Shinkansen, which is scheduled for March 2016, this article introduces you to the fascinating world of food in Hakodate in Northern Iwate Prefecture.

The three great noodle dishes in Morioka are Wanko-soba, Morioka Reimen (a cold Korean noodle dish), and Morioka Jajamen (originated from a Chinese noodle dish). Morioka Reimen is, unlike other reimen dishes, characterized by pure white noodles made without soba (buckwheat) flour. The rich clear beef-based soup and kimchi (spicy Korean pickles) creates a perfect harmony. Wanko soba is a competition-like eating of soba noodles served in mouthful portions. You have a small empty bowl, and your server keeps topping up your bowl rhythmically with a portion of noodles while cheerfully calling out encouragement. You are expected to eat each serving in one bite. Jajamen is a unique noodle dish, serving flat
noodles topped with special nikumiso (miso-based meat paste), strips of cucumber, grated ginger, and some vinegar and chili oil, without soup.

Iwate Tankaku-gyu beef is healthy red meat with less fat, offering a perfect harmony of texture and flavor. Maezawagyu beef is high-quality meat with intense marbling. Hakkinton pork, literally meaning “platinum pork,” is famous for the smooth and tender texture. Iwate Saisaidori is a unique brand of “vegetarian chickens” which are raised only on plant protein-based feed, mainly grains.

Iwate has been actively involved in farming oysters since the old days. Visitors can enjoy plump, succulent oysters from early November to early May at some places in the area, such as Sanriku Yamada Kaki-goya restaurant and Ryoshi no Kakigoya restaurant. Iwate’s Sanriku coast is also famous as a producer of abalone, a by-word for expensive food ingredients. Autumn is the season of sanma (saury). Enjoy grilled fatty sanma in a nice autumn breeze. Iwate is also the biggest producer of salmon in Japan.

Ama female divers workingat the northern limit

Ama female divers at the Kosode district of Kuji City work in cold water and catch sea urchins without any diving gear or air tanks, according to the traditional fishing technique of this district. They are the bare-skin divers who work at the northernmost part of Japan. In the popular TV drama series, “Ama-chan,” about a girl becoming an ama, a very unique local dish of this area with dumplings wrapped around walnuts and black sugar in a savory soup, Mamebujiru, was introduced and became recognized nationwide along with the success of the show.

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