3 carefully selected gourmet foods in Iwate (must-try specialties/local dishes, etc.)

🕓 2023/3/10

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About Iwate's gourmet food

Iwate Prefecture's gourmet cuisine is characterized by its unique culinary culture nurtured by its rich natural environment and history. For example, in winter, wanko soba, which takes advantage of the harsh cold, and cold noodles, which are known as cold dishes unique to Iwate Prefecture, are popular. Iwate is also famous for its sake production, and you can enjoy aromatic local sake made with local sake rice. The tender and flavorful yakiniku made with fresh Iwate beef and seafood dishes made with seafood caught on the Sanriku coast will also offer visitors a chance to discover new tastes. In addition, dishes made with wild vegetables grown in the mountains of Iwate Prefecture and seafood from the rich sea allow you to enjoy different flavors depending on the season, symbolizing Iwate Prefecture's unique food culture.。

3 carefully selected gourmet dishes in Iwate

1. Hitsumi

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● The charm of Hitsumi

Hitsumi, a traditional local dish from Iwate Prefecture, continues to attract many people with its simple yet deep flavor. Hitsumi is a dish made by kneading wheat flour with water and tearing it into small mochi-like pieces by hand, then simmering them with vegetables and meat. The appeal of this dish lies in its handmade feel. By tearing each piece by hand, an irregular shape is created, which also creates a unique texture. When you put it in your mouth, the gentle flavor of the wheat and the umami from the stewed ingredients intertwine to create a heartwarming dish.

Another charm of Hitsumi is its rich variety. In addition to the basic vegetables and meat, various ingredients may be added depending on the region or household. Seasonal vegetables and luxurious toppings may be added for special occasions. As a result, Hitsumi is a dish that can be enjoyed in a variety of flavors even within Iwate Prefecture.​​​

● History of Hitsumi

Hitsumi, a traditional local dish from Iwate Prefecture, can be traced back to Japan's medieval period. During this period, the Tohoku region, including Iwate Prefecture, was rich in harsh natural environments and seasonal changes. Since agriculture was the main source of livelihood, people were looking for ways to make the most of their limited resources. Against this background, hittsumi developed as a valuable food source and an important meal to survive the cold winter.

Wheat, the raw material for hittsumi, has been introduced to Japan since ancient times, but compared to agriculture that was mainly rice cultivation, wheat and millet played a more important role in the Tohoku region. This is because the cool climate of the Tohoku region was not suitable for rice cultivation. Therefore, people used wheat to create various foods, and hittsumi is thought to have been particularly valuable.

Hitsumi has become widely made at home because it is easy to prepare, highly nutritious, and helps you feel full. Especially in the winter, by stewing it with vegetables and preserved foods, it was possible to supplement nutrition while keeping warm. This food culture has been passed down as the wisdom of the local community over the long winter, and continues to be loved by the people of Iwate Prefecture to this day.

● If you want to eat hittsumi, this is the place! !

  • Store name: Hitsumi Tei
  • charm:
    ``Hittsumi-tei'' is an attractive restaurant where you can enjoy Iwate prefecture's local cuisine ``Hitsumi''. This restaurant is a renovated old folk house that warmly welcomes visitors with its Japanese-style atmosphere. There are table seats with chairs on tatami mats, so you can spend a relaxing time in a traditional Japanese atmosphere. It is easily accessible, approximately 12 minutes by car from JR Yahaba Station, and has ample parking, making it easy to visit.

    The restaurant's signature dish, ``Hittsumi,'' is characterized by udon-like noodles and is a filling dish. This hittsumi can be ordered individually as well as in large servings, and its gentle taste has received high praise from many visitors. We also offer set meals such as ``Hittsumi Gozen'' and ``Hittsumi Teishoku,'' which can be enjoyed with other Iwate local dishes, mackerel tsukudani, tempura, and other dishes.

  • Address: 18-65 Kurokawa, Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture
  • Access: 3,394m from Yahaha Station
  • Google Maps:https://maps.app.goo.gl/rMuwPZVVMEWLADAGA




2. Morioka cold noodles

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● The appeal of Morioka cold noodles

Morioka reimen is one of the representative local dishes of Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture, and attracts many people with its unique texture and taste. The biggest feature of this cold noodle is its chewy and smooth noodles. The special noodles are made using a unique manufacturing method using wheat flour and starch as the main ingredients. As a result, it has a unique elasticity and suppleness, and you can enjoy the texture that goes down easily.

Morioka Reimen's soup is made with a special chicken or beef stock with added sourness and sweetness. This soup has a deep flavor and a refreshing aftertaste, with less spiciness, and is perfect for refreshing on a hot summer day. In addition, by adding toppings such as kimchi, boiled eggs, cucumbers, and pears, you can create a harmonious variety of flavors and textures.

Another appeal of Morioka cold noodles is their wide variety. Not only can you adjust the spiciness, but you can also add a variety of toppings and ingredients to find your favorite cup. In the local Iwate area, different recipes have been passed down from generation to generation, and this diversity shows the depth of Morioka cold noodles.

● History of Morioka cold noodles

The history of Morioka cold noodles begins with the fusion of culture and food that came to Japan from the Korean Peninsula in the mid-20th century. Originally brought by immigrants from the Korean peninsula, traditional cold noodles were enjoyed within their communities. However, over time, this dish gradually became accepted by local Japanese people, and it underwent major changes, especially in Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture, and developed into its own unique food culture.

Morioka cold noodles are characterized by their unique noodles and soup. Initially, cold noodles differed in the texture of the noodles and the taste of the soup, and by incorporating local ingredients and tastes, they gradually evolved into their current form. Morioka cold noodles are characterized by strong chewy noodles and a refreshing sour and sweet soup, which sets Morioka cold noodles apart from cold noodles from other regions.

Morioka cold noodles became widely known during the post-war reconstruction period. During this period, when food was scarce, Morioka reimen became an important meal for many people because it was relatively easy to prepare, highly nutritious, and long-lasting. In addition, the custom of eating cold noodles during the hot summer months to cool down has become established, and Morioka cold noodles have established themselves as a summer tradition.

● If you want to eat Morioka cold noodles, this is the place! !

  • Store name: Pyonpyonsha Morioka store
  • charm:
    Pyonpyonsha, which is rooted in Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture and is known as a symbol of the local food culture, is a local chain store that has greatly contributed to the spread and development of Morioka Reimen since its establishment in 1987. It has 11 stores in Iwate Prefecture, including Morioka City, and continues to be loved by many people through its signature menu, Morioka Reimen.
    Its origin is a combination of the word ``sha,'' which means a place that provides peace and harmony with nature, and the word ``pyonpyon,'' which is an image of living creatures moving around lively in nature. This name reflects our desire to provide a relaxing space and a heartwarming food experience to our customers.
  • Address: 1F, 2F, 3F, Jaran Building, 9-3 Moriokaekimae-dori, Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture
  • Access: Tohoku Shinkansen Morioka Station, 3 minutes using the underground passage, 166m from Morioka Station
  • Google Maps: https://maps.app.goo.gl/hi5UyvgHViCuvsBS7?g_st=ic




3. Wanko soba

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● The charm of Wanko Soba

Wanko Soba is a unique food culture that represents Iwate Prefecture, and its unique style of serving attracts many people. This appealing dish is known for its style, in which bites of soba are served in small bowls (known as ``wanko''), and a new piece of soba is served after each bite. The way to enjoy Wanko Soba is not just in eating it, but also in the way it is served. Meals become a type of communication through the constant serving of soba while respecting the pace of the eater.

One of the charms of Wanko Soba is its rich history and cultural background. Wanko Soba has long been loved by the locals as a simple yet heartwarming meal to help them get through the long winters of Iwate Prefecture. This traditional way of eating reflects the lifestyle of the people of Iwate Prefecture, who value spending time with family and friends and enjoying meals together.

Furthermore, Wanko Soba tickles the challenge of those who eat it. It is common for people to try to set a record for how many Wanko Soba they can eat, and certificates may be awarded depending on the number of wanko soba eaten. This challenge is not only a fun activity at festivals and events, but also functions as a way to communicate the charm of the region.

● History of Wanko Soba

Wanko Soba has a long history as a unique food culture in Iwate Prefecture, providing a special food experience to visitors. The origins of this unique diet can be traced back to the Edo period. At that time, the people of Iwate Prefecture lived a frugal and frugal lifestyle, and Wanko Soba became a symbol of this. This style, in which a small amount of soba is served in a small bowl and a new one is served each time a meal is finished, reflects the local spirit of consuming ingredients sparingly and sparingly.

Iwate Prefecture's rich natural environment and flourishing soba culture are behind the development of Wanko Soba into its current form. Iwate Prefecture is known as a production area for high-quality soba, and a food culture that uses the harvested soba has flourished. Wanko soba gradually became popular as a way to casually enjoy local soba noodles, and as fun entertainment during banquets and festivals where many people gathered.

Wanko Soba also embodies the spirit of hospitality. By constantly offering soba noodles to guests, they have provided a rich meal and expressed their heartfelt welcome. This tradition symbolizes the warm hospitality and rich food culture of the people of Iwate Prefecture.

● If you want to eat Wanko Soba, this is the place! !

  • Address: Higashiya main store
  • charm:
    Founded in the 40th year of the Meiji era, this Japanese restaurant located on Nakanohashi-dori (formerly Fukite-cho) retains the atmosphere of a castle town in the southern part of Iwate Prefecture, and has been reborn into an even more attractive space with the opening of its new main store. . This restaurant has been a kappo restaurant since its founding, and is known for its ``Wanko Soba'' that continues to be loved by locals and captivates tourists as well. This Japanese restaurant, which has been in its fifth generation, is a place that still conveys Iwate's warm hospitality.

    The restaurant's specialty, ``Wanko Soba,'' is a type of soba served with dashi soup carefully prepared by the head chef with over 40 years of experience, and its smooth texture is truly exquisite. During the meal, the soba noodles are served one after another with cheerful shouts of "Yes, Janjan!", providing culinary entertainment for visitors. The interior of the store, which is a renovated merchant house from the early Showa period, is characterized by the rustic atmosphere created by the old-fashioned wooden architecture, and there are plenty of table seats and tatami seats, making it a space where any customer can truly relax.
  • Address: 1-8-3 Nakanohashi-dori, Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture
  • Access: 30 minutes walk from JR Morioka Station
  • google map: https://maps.app.goo.gl/VPEUuBKjX3mBQn918?g_st=ic