Foodie Hotspots: Kagoshima, Oshima, Akune, Kumage.
Foodies Look Out For: Satsuma-age fried fish 'cakes'; Satsuma-jiru soup; local pork dishes; sake-zushi; keihan rice; imo-jochu liqor.
The Basics: The completion of the northern section of the high-speed Kyushu shinkansen line in 2011 opened up this once hard-to-access prefecture to inbound visitors. You can now get to Kagoshima Chuo from Hakata station in Fukuoka in just 26 minutes. Good connections with the Sanyo shinkansen mean that it is accessible from Osaka in 4 hours. Kagoshima in the summer has a distinctly tropical feel. Dominating the landscape in the South of the prefecture is the active volcano, Sakurajima.
Foodies Go Kagoshima:
Kyushu’s southernmost prefecture, the idiosyncratic Kagoshima, was once the fiefdom of the Satsuma clan, and that name often occurs in its regional speciality foods. Best known is satsuma-age, where fresh fish are ground into a paste, flavoured with local sake, and deep-fried. Satsuma-jiru is a miso soup with chicken, daikon, carrots and burdock. Legend has it that this originated during the Satsuma reign, as a way to dispose of unfortunate losers in the fiefdom’s then most popular sport, cock-fighting.
Kagoshima kurobuta the prefecture's pork has achieved nationwide fame, and is most commonly served as shabu-shabu, or in tonkatsu breaded pork cutlets. In Kagoshima city, Ajimori, adjacent to Tenmonkan Koen park is a specialist in business since 1978. Roppakutei in Nakata district is a great budget option.
Prefecture-wide, look for karukan, a sweet, dough-like confection made from yam, rice powder, and sugar, and sake-zushi sushi made with sweet sake instead of vinegar, topped with seasonal fish and vegetables.
The Oshima district serves keihan, a dish of chicken, chopped vegetables, egg and wakame served on rice with a chicken broth, while Akune specialises in kibinago, a small blue sprat served as sashimi. Brown sugar as a raw, unrefined syrup is made in the Oshima and Kumage districts. And everyone in Kagoshima drinks shochu, in this case mostly imo-jochu made from sweet potatoes.
The Kagoshima Budget Gourmet
Tonkatsu made with the local kurobuta pork is the order of the day here. Diners on a budget need look no further than tonkatsu specialist Kawakyu. Other gems include Ibusuki's city's ontamarandon in which a donburi rice dish is topped with half-boiled eggs, gane sweet potato tempura, and kiikon chicken stew, an excellent dish made with the local Satsuma jidori free-range birds..
The Ramen Professor Recommends: Zabon Ramen handily placed in Kagoshima station, seems to polarize opinion, with as many fans as detractors. We arenot usually fans of cabbage in ramen, it must be said. If you are after that hefty tonkotsu-torigara pork and chicken fix, we recommend Kuroiwa Honten in Kagoshima city. They've been doing their thing since 1967.
Similarly historied is Horie Ramen. This is one for the real ramen nerds. They make excellent soy-based shoyu ramen out in Horie-cho, just East of Ikuromachi station. However, they are only open Monday to Friday, between 11.30am and 1pm though.
FGL Favorite Tipple: Look out for Hamada Shuzo's Kaido. It possesses a deep, rich and gently sweet taste, from the locally cultivated sweet potatoes. It won the 2001 Kagoshima Shochu Award. Arawaza Sakurajima, from Hombo Shuzo, won the Gold Prize at the 2016 International Spirits Challenge in London. Satsuma no Kaori Pure Black, Mogura, and Satsunama Shiranami are other excellent options.
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