Nagoya has a bit of a boring reputation (there’s even an entire website dedicated to debunking this notion, to which I am very grateful). If you do find yourself without much to do in Nagoya, why not eat two iconic treats from the city?
Ogura Toast: Sweet Beans and Bread
Ogura toast is sweet red beans (usually in a paste) spread on buttered toast, sometimes with a dollop of whipped cream on top. This can come in multiple variations (three main types exist), but this is the general idea of the dish.
The dish originated at the cafe Mitsua in Sakae, Nagoya. After WWI, this confectionary faced a dilemma: Glutonous rice, the main ingredient for their sweets, became prohibitively expensive. Given the sudden boom in the making and popularity of butter and bread, the shop shifted gears. To appeal to the Japanese tastes, it added sweet red beans, and a new dish was born. It was the rage of the Taisho Era!
We went to Bucyo Coffee to try their Ogura toast and coffee one morning. Ogura toast usually comes on Shokupan, which is a thicker, fluffier white bread. Bucyo decided to up the ante by having an option where the Shokupan was over an inch thick! How could I say no to that?
The toast was thick and fluffy with a delightfully crispy yet buttery top. The red beans weren’t very gritty, and added just a slight amount of sweetness to the mix that was really pleasant. The whipped cream added more milky goodness to the mix, making it feel like a warm, bready cake! It was a bit tricky to eat, given the size, but boy was I grateful I tried it! It was one of the best things I think I’ve eaten in Japan, and I still dream about it to this day.
Tebasaki: Wing Lovers, Rejoice!
Finding chicken wings that satisfy your need for the delicate reconstruction involved and the tangy taste of your preferred sauce can be a bit challenging in Japan. Japanese flavors tend to be limited to salt, miso, and dashi.
Tebasaki are wings that are deep-fried without any batter or coating, then seasoned with a blend of salt, pepper, and spices. What you get is a satisfyingly moist, crispy meat with a very snackable flavor that pairs nicely with alcohol or sweetened drinks.
You can find these delicious wings in many places: The most common is Sekai no Yamachan. You can see this smiling man everywhere in Nagoya, and they make a solid wing experience. We wanted something a bit different than an izakaya feel, so we ended up going to an unexpectedly fancy restaurant.
We went to Torigin (鳥銀) to try their wings. Nagoya, beyond the wings, is also known for its chickens. They are called Nagoya Cochin, and they are prized in the region for their rich umami flavor and unique texture, giving them special designation in Japan. At Torigin, they only use Cochin that have been slaughtered the same day, ensuring that you get the freshest experience at their restaurant.
We tried the Tebasaki as well as some good ol’ karaage (fried chicken). The tebasaki was wonderful! The perfect crispiness of the outer layer matched well with the juicy inside, with just the right amount of spice on the outside to bring that classic Tebasaki flavor. The karaage was a bit heartier, with more skin and fat present than the wings. If you want less fat and chewiness, the wings are the way to go! Could I tell a difference with the Cochin chicken meat? A little! It was definitely fresh and flavorful, but it’s always hard to tell when something’s been deep-fried, as the boiling oil tends to overwhelm the other flavors.
So next time you’re in Nagoya, bring your appetite and enjoy these local dishes! What about you? What local dish would you recommend for your city? Leave a comment below and let us know!