Cuisine Tohoku

10 Most Popular Local Foods in Aomori

People don’t visit Japan just to explore its top tourist attractions. Instead, they are curious about the foods that are commonly eaten by locals. Many foodie lovers from all over the world choose Japan as their dream destination to satisfy their belly and mind. Japan is divided into several regions and prefectures with distinct styles of cooking.

One of Japan’s best regional cuisines can be found in Aomori prefecture, Tohoku region. The next time you visit Aomori, please check out the list of foods you should try from this post.

If you want to learn some of the most popular traditional foods of Japan then read one of these Japanese cookbooks at home.

The delicious Aomori foods are served! Photo Credit: panda sensei at Flickr.

Aomori offers culinary treats for all four seasons, especially the traditional winter dishes here are widely popular throughout Japan. If you really want to taste some authentic Japanese foods then you must come to Aomori. A list of delicious and fantastic dishes is waiting for you there.

Usually, the ingredients used on variety of Aomori local dishes are based on the natural and agricultural products of the area. However, Aomori cooking is well known throughout Japan. They are healthy and unique.

If you are a vegetarian then there is nothing to worry about. You have your available dishes on your table. Let’s go and see what we find here today.

1) Kenoshiru

Kenoshiru Dish. Photo Credit: Junichi Ishito at Flickr.

Bingo! I first start with a Japan vegetarian dish. Sorry to non-vegetarian, take it easy. In fact, your menu is on the way, just wait for a while. Well, Kenoshiru (porridge) is a kind of Miso Soup, usually eaten in winter and seen to be a famous traditional during the New Year’s holidays in Aomori.

It is cooked with variety of root vegetables such as carrot, daikon radish, burdock, deep fried tofu, eatable wild plants including other ingredients such as wild mountain herb Fuki. Before cooking they are all cut into bite-size pieces.

The soup tastes better when it is served hot. You can preserve in for some days in the fridge and before you are going to eat it again please reheat it. The flavor of this soup is brilliant! I won’t be surprised if I see you finish it within in a very short period of time.

2) Ichigo-ni

A Bowl of Ichigo-ni. Photo Credit:

Wakkanai – the northernmost city of Japan in the Hokkaido region is blessed with countless number of sea urchins. In Wakkanai, having sea urchin with sushi and sashimi is absolutely mouthwatering.

Learn how to make Sushi & Sashimi easily at home. Ichigo-ni is not only a local dish of Aomori but also for the northern coastal area of Iwate.

It is a soup made of sea urchin and sliced abalone or awabi, added with salt and soy sauce. Here the name “Ichigo-ni” means “Boiled Strawberries.” Though, strawberries are not used to cook it. The sea urchins floating in the soup is said to resemble wild strawberries, that’s for why we name it as Ichogo-ni.

This is one of the popular traditional foods that we eat in the New Year’s holidays. Once I ate it in one of the restaurants I have found downtown Hachinohe (a city located southeastern Aomori Prefecture), the dish was just excellent!

3) Hachinohe Senbei-Jiru

Hachinohe Senbei-Jiru. Photo Credit:

Here it comes another one “Hachinohe Senbei-Jiru,” one of the famous local delicacies of Hachinohe city. The main ingredient of this dish is the flour crackers or so called Nanbu Senbei. You can consume it as your evening snack. Apart from this, there is other way one can enjoy its taste.

To make it possible, make a stew containing ingredients like various kinds of fresh vegetables, fish, meat and mushroom. Then break the crackers into pieces and then soak them all. Now, it is time to taste the spongy texture of rice crackers soaked in broth. In fact, this is the way it is done.

Even when the crackers are boiled they don’t melt. Surprised! I think it is one of the main characteristics of famous Nanbu Senbei. The dish will be served to you quite elegantly. Don’t you believe me? Then go to a restaurant downtown Hachinohe and see how they would present it to you.

4) Kaiyaki-Miso

Kaiyaki Miso – You must try it! Photo Credit: HAMUTATE FIX! at Flickr.

Abundance of seafood in Aomori offers you a various kind of dishes to try anytime you visit it. If you ask me “How to cook Kaiyaki-Miso?” then I say “I don’t know!” I also don’t know how to enhance the flavor of the dish. After all, this is not my job. You can ask these to a local cook you meet especially Tsugaru city. He/she have the answer of your questions.

By the way, Kaiyaki-Miso is a very simple dish made of scallops then soaked in Miso and finally before cooking it is topped with lightly beaten eggs.

Then it is cooked in the big scallop shell, no pan is required. The dish is said to be very nutritious and sick people are told to eat it.

5) Aomori Ginger-Miso Oden

You are going to fall in love with this! Photo Credit:

Who does not like having Oden on a frosty winter day? Aomori is severely cold in winter. There are different kinds of Oden dishes based on the climate and agricultural products of each region in Japan. Aomori Ginger-Miso Oden is quite different in taste than famous Nagoya Miso Oden.

To warm your body from the inside out in a freezing winter in Aomori, local here prefer to have delicious Ginger-Miso Oden.

The dish consists of several ingredients such as boiled daikon radish, konjac, and eggs topped with miso sauce mixed with grated ginger. You don’t ever try to leave Aomori without having it as you get it easily from the food carts.

6) Jappa-Jiru

One of my favorite soup of Aomori, Jappa-Jiru! Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Take the codfish’s fillet aside. There is no need to have it right now. I am not kidding! In fact, Jappa-Jiru is a hot pot (nabe) dish recipe that does not need the fillet.

Instead it requires the other parts of a codfish such as the head, fishbone, guts, and skin of the fish. It sounds like crazy when you see the fish parts that are thrown away are used to make it.

Everything is cut into bite size and stewed in miso soup with fresh vegetables such as daikon radish, Chinese cabbage, konjac, tofu, green onion, and carrots.

The more you simmer it the more it becomes tasty. For more than a decade now we have ate this popular dish of winter and made our stomach satisfied.

7) Towada Barayaki

Towada Barayaki! Photo Credit:

Misawa city is said to be the birthplace of Towada Barayaki. The popularity of this simple dish has crossed its border to the neighboring cities and towns though mostly in Towada city. Let’s get to the main point. What is Towada Barayaki? It is one of the famous local specialties of Aomori prefecture.

Barayaki – a dish made with beef ribs (these days sometimes pork is used) and onions including coating ingredients such as grated ginger, soya sauce, sugar and grated apple.

The dish was originated in the 1950s, right after the Japan world war2. Locals at that time were able to buy beef ribs very cheaply from the US Air Base located in Misawa city.

The recipe is very simple. First of all, you mix up all the coating ingredients in a bowl. Then you slice the beef thinly, after that you peel onions and cut then into 1 cm. wide slices. Now you marinate the sliced beef and onion in coating ingredients for about 30 minutes to 40 minutes.

Take a BBQ iron griddle pan and heat the salad oil before adding the marinated beef and onion. Grill and stir it well for 10 to 15 minutes. Then serve it immediately.

8) Iso Ramen

Iso Ramen – looks colorful! Photo Credit:

Sapporo is my all time favorite place to have Ramen. You can try it when you visit Sapporo. To me the taste and flavor is very delicous.

When it comes to having Ramen in Aomori, I first choose to have Iso Ramen. You know what there are varieties of Ramen dishes all over Japan and Aomori has its own varieties that are truly fantastic to taste.

It is a noodle dish topped with various fresh seafood and seaweed. When spring rolls in, a lot of hard clams are caught at the Tanesashi coast, Aomori. Here in Aomori, cooks use hard clams along with other seafood to make it taste better and unique.

The taste is just refreshing. I think one bowl is enough or… do you want some more?! Also you can try some other ramen dishes in Aomori such as Miso-Curry Milk Ramen, and Niboshi Ramen.

9) Igamenchi

You can eat it when you drink sake. Photo Credit:

Igamenchi is deep-fried chopped squid tentacles and fins mixed with some fresh vegetables. It is a simple home-made dish that is served by many restaurants and Izakaya (Japanese pub) in Hirosaki city.

Origin of the dish comes from a simple fact that seafood there used to be rare as Hirosaki is an inland area in Aomori. People used to rely on the dried squids to make a kind of fermented sushi in the past.

It is said that while making the sushi, they have developed Igamenchi with the leftover squid tentacles and fins. There was nothing left to waste a thing!

Everything was used quite perfectly. Usually, first squid tentacles are chopped, then washed, and mixed with veggies before frying them in the oil. It is a great accompaniment for drinks especially it is a quite popular dish in Izakaya.

10) Kyodai Apple Pie

Well done – You did it again! Photo Credit:

If Kyoto is the most renowned place for temple & shrine in Japan then Aomori is the best place for its juicy delicious fresh apple. Aomori is also referred as the Apple capital of Japan. I am kind of a big fan of Fuji and Mutsu apples produced in Aomori prefecture.

The size, firmness, acidity, sweetness, coloring, aroma, and juiciness make Aomori’s apples varieties in a higher position that nothing could beat them.

A group of people bakes huge apple pie with diameter of 2 meters at the events that take place on many occasions throughout the year in Hirosaki. Here, around 400 hundreds apples are used to make a huge apple pie.

Fuji Apple in a Store, Aomori. Photo Credit: Richard Masoner at Flickr.

The demand of this pie is huge; you may see many people are waiting for a pack of apple pie. If you ever come to Hirosaki during the Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival in spring then you must try it.

You can check out the official website and find the event in which they would make a big apple pie for you. Buy some extra pieces for your children as it is a perfect food that they surly love to eat. During the apple picking season you can pick apple in Aomori. It is a fun activity in autumn.

I have regular encounters with these traditional dishes of Aomori. These 10 dishes represent the local cuisine of Aomori that you must try when you plan on traveling this amazing Aomori prefecture.

Above are the delicious dishes enjoyed by generations. Now we are waiting for you and hopefully you would be treated well and will leave Aomori with a satisfied mind. Thank you.