Foodie hotspots: Miyazaki, Nobeoka, Aya, Takachiho, the Nichinan coastline, Miyakonojo.
Foodies Look Out For: Ayu sweetfish; hiya-jiru chilled soup; Miyazaki & Takachihobeef; Ise-ebi spiny lobster; local chicken dishes, sweet potato liqour, Takachiho kamairi green tea.
The Basics: Miyazaki is another Kyushu prefecture with a distinctly tropical feel, even down to the palm trees facing the ocean in the prefectural capital, Miyazaki city. Takachiho is where the Sun Goddess Amaterasu no Omikami appeared and Japan 'came into being'.
Foodies Go Miyazaki:
Head to the east coast of Miyazaki prefecture to Nobeoka city and Aya town to try their unique brand of ayu-ryori sweetfish cuisine. The fish are caught in man-made waterfalls and are eaten immediately beside the river as shioyaki roasted with salt. Miyazaki city’s speciality is hiya-jiru, a cold summer soup made from sliced fish and sesame seasoned with miso, and poured over rice. Wash it down with kappo-zake, a Takachiho speciality, where sake is served in heated green bamboo cylinders, and takes on the bamboo aroma this is the local name for take-zake. Obi-ten from Nichinan is a tempura made from ground-sardine paste, tofu, miso and brown sugar. Nichinan is also where you'll find Ise-ebi, best eaten raw as sashimi or charcoal grilled.
Right across the prefecture you'll find the top-grade Miyazaki-gyu beef. Great as shabu-shabu or sukiyaki. Miyazaki's local jidori chicken is high quality too, and most often is served charcoal grilled.
The Miyazaki Budget Gourmet
Once again the local chicken features large, most notably in Nobeoka's torinanban and Miyazaki jidori momoyaki grilled chicken thighs. Miyazaki city is where the nikumaki onigiri originated, a rice ball wrapped in pork coated with a mysterious 'secret sauce' and then baked until crisp. Cheese manju dumplings originate here and have recently achieved national fame - or notoriety, depending on your tolerance levels for 'budget gourmet' fare. Young Japanese women appear to love them.
The Ramen Professor Recommends: If tonkotsu shoyu ramen is your bag, check out Eiyouken in business since 1964. With all that lard, you'd expect it to be a bit of a monster, but the result is surprisingly light. Ittetsu ramen out in the wilds of Miyakonojo, on the other hand, is the full pork broth onslaught.
FGL Favorite Tipple: For basics. look no further than the Kirishima brand of imo-jochu made from the local sweet potatoes. Their 'Shochu culture page' is fun too. Did you know that shochu possesses zero carbs and is low in calories? You do now.