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

🕓 2023/3/18

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About gourmet food in Yamagata

Yamagata Prefecture's gourmet cuisine is characterized by its unique food culture, nurtured by its rich natural environment and rich history. There are many dishes that can be enjoyed in each season, from traditional foods that take advantage of the cold winter weather to cold dishes that comfort the heat of summer. Yamagata Prefecture is also known for its thriving production of fruits such as cherries and La France, and you can enjoy desserts and processed products made with these fresh fruits. Other attractions include Yakiniku made from high-quality Wagyu beef, including Yamagata beef, and dishes made with vegetables grown in Yamagata's rich land. Furthermore, Yamagata Prefecture is one of the top producers of Japanese sake in Japan, and you can enjoy mellow local sake made with local sake rice. Dishes that make use of the bounties of both the sea and the mountains symbolize the food culture of Yamagata Prefecture, and offer visitors a chance to discover new tastes.

3 carefully selected gourmet foods in Yamagata

1. Imoni


● The charm of imoni

Yamagata imoni is a local dish representing Yamagata Prefecture, known for its simple yet deep flavor. It is customary for families and friends to gather around the autumn harvest season to cook and enjoy this dish together around a large pot by the river or outdoors. The main ingredients are fresh locally harvested taro, beef, and vegetables, which are simmered in a soy sauce-based soup to maximize the flavor of each ingredient. This simple yet exquisite combination gives imoni its deep flavor.

The appeal of imoni also lies in its cooking process. Imoni-kai includes communication through food, where cooking together deepens regional and family bonds. In addition, this dish eaten in the midst of nature gives a sense of the changing seasons and symbolizes the Japanese food culture that values ​​seasonal ingredients.​​​​

● History of imoni

This traditional cuisine was born from Yamagata Prefecture's unique natural environment and the lifestyle of the people who live there. Although there are no concrete records of the origin of imoni, it is thought to have arisen spontaneously in areas of Yamagata Prefecture where taro is the staple food. The flavor became even richer with the addition of local vegetables such as taro, river fish provided by the rich nature, and later beef.

Imoni began to be considered a social event back in the days when agriculture was the main focus. During the harvest season, local people cooperated with each other to hold imoni parties to relieve the fatigue of working together and celebrate a bountiful harvest. This custom is an important opportunity to get closer to nature as the seasons change, and to deepen bonds between families and local communities.

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

  • Store name: Izakaya Motoya
  • charm:
    What makes this restaurant special is that they use high-quality Yamagata beef in their famous imoni, which is served throughout the year. For those who prefer horse meat, we also offer fresh "raw horse sashimi" from Shirataka Town, Yamagata Prefecture, and the fact that you can enjoy it for only 1,200 yen is a unique charm of this restaurant. In addition, ``Motoie'' mainly serves local sake from Yamagata, which is highly rated nationwide, and visitors are captivated by the ability to thoroughly enjoy the exquisite combination of local ingredients and local sake.
    This restaurant has many repeat customers, especially from outside the prefecture, and its appeal lies in the seasonal ingredients that the owner himself procures each season. Dishes made with extremely fresh ingredients, such as Yamagata beef and horse sashimi produced within the prefecture, provide visitors with a fresh taste. In addition, the extensive selection of local sake, including brands that are difficult to obtain, is highly praised for allowing you to fully enjoy the rich flavors of Yamagata.
  • Address: 1-3-25 Tokamachi, Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture
  • Access: 15 minutes walk from JR Yamagata Station, 745m from Yamagata Station
  • google map:https://maps.app.goo.gl/VNeETUaSZprBjXup8




2. Yonezawa beef

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● The charm of Yonezawa beef

Yonezawa beef is one of the highest quality branded beef that represents Japan. The biggest appeal of this beef is its exquisite marbling and rich flavor that spreads the moment you put it in your mouth. Marbled refers to the fat that is finely incorporated into the meat, and Yonezawa beef is extremely tender, juicy, and has a rich flavor. In addition, this fat has the property of melting easily in the mouth, which brings out the unique sweetness and flavor, and leaves a clean aftertaste.

The secret to the quality of Yonezawa beef lies in its production process. Each animal is carefully raised using strict standards and breeding methods based on years of experience. We are particularly particular about the feed we feed, and by feeding it a well-balanced diet of high-quality grass and grains, we raise the quality of the meat to the highest level.

Another appeal of Yonezawa beef is its rarity. Production quantities are limited and it only comes to market under strict quality control, so if you can get your hands on it, it's a special experience in itself. For this reason, it is known as an exquisite delicacy that can only be tasted at high-end restaurants or on special occasions.

● History of Yonezawa beef

The history of Yonezawa beef has deep roots dating back to the Edo period, and has been nurtured through the rich nature and skilled breeding techniques of the Yonezawa region of Yamagata Prefecture. Cows were originally bred for agricultural purposes, but with the passage of time, higher quality came to be sought after. Riding the wave of Westernization during the Meiji era, beef consumption increased and efforts were made to improve quality. is in full swing.

Especially in the Yonezawa area, the harsh winters and fertile soil provided the perfect environment for raising cattle that produced uniquely marbled meat. Since the Meiji period, as the status of beef has improved in Japanese food culture, Yonezawa beef has become known for its excellent meat quality and has received high praise both in Japan and abroad. The softness of the meat, deep flavor, and delicate marbling are the result of years of improvement and the efforts of the local community, and even today it is known as the finest Wagyu beef.


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

  • Store name: Yonezawa beef DINING Bekoya
  • charm:
    This restaurant is easily accessible, being just a 3-minute walk from JR Yonezawa Station, and its quaint, old-fashioned house-like exterior catches the eye. Many people, from locals to tourists, come here to enjoy the high quality Yonezawa beef.

    The store is divided into various sections such as yakiniku, steak, shabu-shabu, and sukiyaki, offering customers the way to enjoy Yonezawa beef according to their tastes. Especially at lunchtime, we serve high-quality Yonezawa beef at a more reasonable price than at dinner.The "Yonezawa Beef Kalbi Zanmai Lunch" includes salad, soup, and drink for 1,980 yen (weekdays only). It is offered at an amazing price. By grilling it over a special charcoal fire, the natural sweetness and flavor of Yonezawa beef spreads throughout your mouth.。

    In addition to Yakiniku, we also have a wide variety of lunch menus, so you can casually enjoy Yonezawa beef gourmet food. It can be used for a variety of occasions, with a relaxing modern Japanese atmosphere, an interior filled with the warmth of wood, a teppanyaki counter where steaks are grilled right in front of you, and a spacious space that seats over 150 people.
  • Address: 3-2-34 Higashi, Yonezawa City, Yamagata Prefecture
  • Access: 3 minutes walk from JR Yonezawa Station. 175m from Yonezawa Station
  • google map: https://maps.app.goo.gl/BxKMkapJdr6NxxdB7?g_st=ic




3. Tama konnyaku

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● Charm of Tama Konnyaku

Tama konnyaku from Yamagata Prefecture is a local dish unique to the region, known for its unique texture and deep flavor. This small, spherical konnyaku is a simple product that brings together the best of Japan's traditional food culture, and has been nurtured in Yamagata Prefecture's rich natural environment and food culture with a long history. The appeal of Tama Konnyaku is that it is low in calories and healthy, and while it is rich in water-soluble dietary fiber, it is loved by many people as a satisfying food. In addition, the unique chewy texture is something special that cannot be tasted with other ingredients, allowing you to enjoy a simple yet deep flavor.

Tama konnyaku is also attractive for its versatility in cooking methods. By simmering it in a soy sauce or miso-based sauce, or grilling it on skewers, you can enjoy the contrast between the slightly charred aroma on the outside and the chewy texture on the inside. In this way, tama konnyaku has become an indispensable food not only at home tables in Yamagata Prefecture, but also at local festivals and events.

● History of Tama Konnyaku

Yamagata Tama Konnyaku is a traditional Japanese food known for its unique shape and cooking method.It has a long history and has developed uniquely within Japanese food culture. The unique ingredients of this region have been cultivated through Yamagata Prefecture's rich natural land and climate, as well as the wisdom and ingenuity of local residents, and have been passed down over many years to this day.

The origin of konnyaku itself can be traced back hundreds of years ago in Japan, where it was originally used for medicinal purposes and has been highly valued for its health benefits. However, the reason why konnyaku has gained particular attention in Yamagata is because of the way it is processed and how it has established a unique place in food culture. Specifically, konnyaku was formed into small balls and used in various dishes such as simmered dishes and skewered dishes, and this became widely known as ``tama konnyaku''.

The development of this traditional food is due to Yamagata Prefecture's harsh winter climate and rich natural environment in the summer. These conditions are suitable for growing konnyaku potatoes, making it possible to produce high-quality konnyaku. In addition, thanks to the wisdom and techniques passed down among the people of Yamagata Prefecture, tama konnyaku has grown into a food with a unique taste and texture that is an essential element of the local food culture.

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

  • Address: Chitoseyama Konnyaku Store
  • charm:
    Chitoseyama Konnyaku Store, located at the foot of Mt. Chitose, is a historic konnyaku specialty store that continues to be loved in Yamagata City. Since its establishment in 1939, the taste of its handmade konnyaku has been loved by many people. At the store, which is reminiscent of an old folk house, you can enjoy homemade konnyaku, which has a chewy texture, in a variety of dishes.

    The restaurant offers a variety of konnyaku dishes, including sashimi konnyaku, konjac steak, and hamburger steaks, and you can enjoy them at reasonable prices starting at 550 yen each. In particular, Yamagata's famous tama konnyaku comes in two flavors: soy sauce flavor and yuzu miso ginger flavor, so you can fully enjoy the local flavor. In addition, the konjac set meal is 660 yen, and is a recommended menu that allows you to enjoy a variety of flavors at once.

    The appeal of this store is also its quaint Japanese house appearance. In an atmosphere that gives you a sense of history, you can enjoy carefully selected konnyaku instead of dango at an old-fashioned teahouse. The famous tama konnyaku is sold under the eaves on days when the weather is nice, and the homemade tama konnyaku is simmered in dashi soy sauce and served on skewers.。
  • Address: 3-14-1 Matsuyama, Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture
  • Access: 2,800m from Yamagata Station
  • google map: https://maps.app.goo.gl/bmZe8uJ1J2WuUcMU7