6 Must-Try Food in Iwate, Japan
Flying dango from Genbikei
Having extra days in Japan with a JR Pass? Then you should visit Iwate of Japan with Japan’s fastest bullet train Hayabusa!.
Culturally and aesthetically beautiful, Iwate also has some traditional food that would make you to crave for more!
Map of Iwate Prefecture
When we talk about food, Iwate of Tohoku region is particularly famous for their food. They are so proud of their food that their prefecture mascot design revolves around food!
From the left: Omocchi, Tofucchi, Sobacchi, Unicchi, and Kokucchi.
So, what are the food that one shouldn’t miss in Iwate?
Let’s find out!
1. Wanko Soba
‘Wan’ is for ‘bowl’ and ‘ko’ means ‘small’. Wanko Soba is a traditional noodle served in small bowls that gives its name! Each bowl has only a mouthful of noodles, but eating a lot is surely filling!
In Morioka, the busiest part of Iwate, is famous for various noodles and you can challenge yourself to see how much you can eat at a fixed rate! Azumaya is particularly famous for challengers as you receive a token upon participating the wanko soba challenge!
Wanko Soba Challenge medal from Azumaya.
That aside, if you have a small appetite but would still love to eat Wanko Soba, you can also do it in Iwate! If you are visiting Chusonji of Hiraizumi, you can also dine in Yoshiie for Wanko soba!
In Yoshiie, you can view the cedar trees from Tsukimizaka along the way to Chusonji without feeling the heat of competition. It is a great place to relax, and wallet-friendly for those with a small appetite. Each serving in Yoshiie is 12 bowls!
Wanko Soba bowls in Yoshiie
‘Reimen’ literally means ‘cold noodles’ and they are definitely served cold! Definitely a summer favourite, but you can eat them all-year! Although it was said to originate from Korea, the Morioka version began when the spices were mixed with the light-flavoured broth.
Pyon Pyon Sha’s Reimen
As cute as the shop’s name sound, Pyon Pyon Sha’s reimen is popular in Morioka – so popular they have become a long-established chain!
Reimen itself is chewy, and it is beef-based. The broth itself is not thick at all compared to ramens of southern Japan, but once you mix the kimchi (you can choose the spice level, by the way!), onions, cucumbers together, the broth will turn very flavourful.
Next to the spiciest level
A thing to note is that, different stores may use a different broth, but comparing different reimens in Morioka, Pyon Pyon is a personal favourite for many of my local friends!
The other popular noodle of Iwate is no other than Jajamen! It’s like udon, but topped with miso paste with minced meat. They also have chopped leeks and cucumbers.
Ask a local in Morioka about Jajamen and they will definitely recommend Pairon! It is a short walking distance from the Bank of Iwate Red Brick Building! It is not a big shop, but not difficult to find either.
Pairon’s Store Front
Inside the store, you can just order Jajamen. They offer small, medium and large and the large portion is perfect for big eaters! You can choose to sit near the counter, or be seated near the walls.
Inside Pairon – Many Japanese local celebrities have left their marks here!
For those had sharp eyes, you might have noticed that there are eggs on the table! This is because you can pay just a small amount extra after finishing your Jajamen for additional egg soup! Just crack an egg, pour it into your finished bowl and pass it to the staff. It’s that simple!
Egg soup from Pairon
If you are interested in Iwate’s culture, the mochi-eating culture is something that you should not miss! Hiraizumi is a place where mochi-eating has hundreds of years of history for various occasions!
In Hiraizumi, one should not miss a mochi cuisine in Seki no Ichi Restaurant! Seki no Ichi itself is a sake brewery, but they also have a restaurant for you to try their alcohol and mochi. Their mochi has also won awards!
You can choose a good variety of mochi cuisines. They are flavourful and chewy, and the taste hits right home!
Mochi from Seki no Ichi Brewery’s Restaurant
You get eight different types of mochi (the middle one is not mochi, it’s radish, more of a cleanser you use to switch between flavours). The special part about this set is that, they have a hidden branch under one of the mochis.
You can eat the mochi in any order, and if you picked the one with a branch on your first mochi, then the day itself is your lucky day; and if it’s in your second mochi, tomorrow will be your lucky day; if it’s in your third mochi, the day after tomorrow will be a lucky day… and so on!
I got my branch in my mochi!
5. Soymilk Donuts
Remember Tofucchi the Tofu-based mascot? If you are wondering what makes Iwate’s tofu so special, you should totally visit Hachimantai of Iwate!
Hachimantai is best known for skiing during winter season and its beautiful mountains during spring and autumn, but Fusetsuka makes Hachimantai even better for foodies!
Only a 3-minute walk from Koyanohata station, Fusetsuka has been a well-known tofu, yuba, and creamy croquettes, and you can definitely trust them for choosing the best soybeans!
Sweet soft serve
Their soybeans give a nice tint of sweetness and fragrance. Besides, you can also try on their samples of sliced tofu. If you want a tofu that is rich in flavour, the bamboo flavour will be the one that you should try! Otherwise, if you wanted to know the most popular tofu, then you should not miss the green bean tofu!
There are definitely more other food that one should try in Iwate and other regions of Tohoku, so if you are interested to visit the Tohoku region, feel free to grab a JR East Tohoku Area Pass or a Japan Rail Pass (Nationwide)!
6. Flying Dango
Dango that flew all the way here from the other end of the river!
Genbikei, a beautiful gorge that does not only offer a beautiful view, but also a great place for a new experience! Paying 400 yen (if you paid more you will get your change back!) and knocking on the board will send a basket flying. Wait a couple of minutes and you will see your dango sent to you, flying from the opposite of Genbikei!! Also comes with green tea.
Eating this in a chilly weather while sipping hot tea is one of the nicest moment, especially when sakura is in full bloom that offers a perfect view!
Pro tip: Get yourself extra time to go across the river and get a chance to send a flying dango across the sea! You can tell the owner on which country you are from, and they will put your country’s flag while playing your national anthem when someone from across orders the dango. Unique experience indeed!
Is there anything that might be missing from the list? Let me know!
Looking for a JR Pass? Drop an enquiry H.I.S. Travel Malaysia and mention #jinxjapanguide or YJ to receive great deals! 😉
Until next time!
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