5 Famous Foods You’ll Find in Okayama
From surf and turf to Peach Boy’s favorite snack. Yum!
Wherever you go, delicious local food awaits in Okayama. The rural prefecture is packed with seafood from the Seto Inland Sea, but it’s also rich with crops from plateaus in the northern area and even has it’s own special type of beef. We give you five of some of the most famous foods that are rarely found outside of Okayama. Stop by and enjoy the local flavors of the countryside.
1. Kaki Oko (Oyster Okonomiyaki)
Around 45 kilometers east from the center of Okayama, the Hinase-area is famous for oyster farming. A local dish okonomiyaki (a savory Japanese-style pancake), which is well-known as an Osaka food, is made with fresh oysters and has a special name: “kaki oko.” Kaki means oyster and oko is the shortened form of okonomiyaki.
The main ingredient is shredded cabbage and tons of juicy oysters. Once you take a bite, the sauce, saltiness and freshness of the oysters are mouth-watering.
2. White Peach
Yes, it’s all about the fuzzy pink fruit. Okayama is well-known as the birthplace of folklore hero “Momo Taro” (a cute and famous character known as Peach Boy). The area is so endowed with peaches that the peach flower is the designated prefectural flower.
The peach season is limited to the summer months of July and August. Most of the peaches produced in Okayama are white peaches and shimizu-hakuto is the most famous kind because of its juiciness and sweetness. You can pick them up a local roadside stand or even go pick your own. The best way to eat it is at room temperature, but store it in the fridge at least a few hours prior to eating.
3. Kibi Dango
This next food yes some fun history behind it. As the story goes, Momo Taro said, “Grandma and grandpa, I am going to beat ogres.”
“Take this. It will make you strong,” his grandparents said. His grandma gave him something called kibi dango. The treat is a Japanese dumpling made from the flour of kibi (proso millet) grain. These days, it’s still a popular snack, and it’s made of millet flour, sticky rice flour and sugar. Great for a souvenir from your Okayama trip, it comes in a range of flavors like plain (sugar taste), kinako (soy powder), white muscat or even chocolate!
4. Bara-zushi (Scattered sushi)
Photo by: Arashiyama
A cup of soup and one dish for a meal but no side dish. If those are all that you are allowed to eat, what would you choose?
Back in the day, that was one of the regulations enforced by the feudal lord of Okayama in the Edo era and, of course, it didn’t satisfy people’s appetite. Hungry people racked their brains and created Okayama’s bara-zushi (sushi turns into “zushi” for grammatical reasons) which contains a variety of veggies, like bamboo shoots, and fish, like eel or shrimp, on top of rice. These items are mostly produced locally in Okayama.
Don’t worry, it doesn’t break the rule because all the ingredients are on or mixed in sushi rice together, so that makes it one dish! This sumptuous cuisine was made for a special occasion in the past but, lucky you, you are allowed to eat it whenever you want.
5. Chiya beef
You may have heard of the famous Kobe beef from Hyogo prefecture, but it’s true that Japan has many high-quality beef brands. Chiya beef, produced in Okayama, is known for its tenderness. Because of the somewhat limited amount of shipment nationwide, it can be difficult to try this delicacy even in Tokyo. Try the best quality beef grown with loving care in Niimi City, up in northern Okayama. There, to fulfill the craving, you can try the beef at Chiya Gyu yakiniku restaurant.
Check out more famous foods in Japan!