Foodie hotspots: Matsuyama, Hojo, Ozu, Uwajima, Imabari, Matsubara.
Foodies Look Out For: Local soups; citrus fruit, tai sea bream cuisine, and the oddest tonkatsu pork cutlets known to mankind!
The Basics: Tucked down at the West end of Shikoku, Ehime tends to be the least-explored of the island's prefectures. All the more reason to check it out, for a real taste of rural Japan. Expect everything to be slower, rather nice.
Foodies Go Ehime: Famed for its mikan mandarin oranges, Ehime also produces some great soups. Imo-taki, a speciality of Hojo, Matsuyama and Ozu cities, is a potato stew with chicken, gobo burdock, fried tofu and konnyaku Devil's tongue. Satsuma-jiru, an Uwajima favourite, features a miso stock ground in an earthenware mortar and pestle. The stock is the ladled over a
mix of rice and barley.
Imabari city serves the unusual horaku-yaki, in which tai sea bream are grilled with shrimp, clams and other fresh fish arranged on small pebbles in a stoneware pan. Matsubara, Hojo and Uwajima are well known for tai-meshi sea bream rice. In east and central Ehime, whole sea bream are used, while in the southern area slices of the raw fish are dipped into a sashimi sauce and eaten with warm rice. Both styles are excellent.
The Ehime Budget Gourmet
Imabari yaki-buta tamago meshi, roast pork and runny fried egg on rice; Mitsuhama-yaki, an okonomiyaki dating back to the Taisho period; Jakoten is an Uwajima specialty, made from hotaru jako sardines that are blended into a paste and then fried.
A particularly 'interesting' dish is the Matsuyama Tonkatsu Parfait, in which the (clearly deranged, highly amusing) owner of a tonkatsu restaurant - Kiyomaru, near Minami-machi streetcar station - decided to replace the sponge cake of a traditional parfait with - a breaded pork cutlet, 'to attract the female customer'. He also invented anko chi-zu katsu adzuki bean and cheese pork cutlets, and 'spicy custard' pork cutlets. The parfait comes with a finger bowl. Classy! I am still laughing. Go Ehime!
FGL Favorite Tipple: Ehime has the most sake breweries of any Shikoku prefecture. Minakuchi Shuzo has been making premium sake at Dogo Onsen hot springs since 1895. Its Nikitatsu Daiginjo 35 is a big, fruity beauty. Chiyonokame Shuzo in Kita-gun, and Goto Shuzo in Matsuyama city are other favorites, especially the latter's Kumenoi Junmai Daiginjo Namazake.
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