Overview

Home to simple, down-to-earth belly food, Saitama Prefecture is one of the nation's largest producers of wheat - rice doesn't figure prominently in the traditional cuisine of the region. Instead you'll find scores of made-from-wheat udon noodle variations as well potato dishes, hot pots and delicious savoury snacks, all of it hearty and satisfying fare for historically farming folk. Here is a simple guide to some of the regional cuisine of Saitama.

Miso Potato

Famous in the Chichibu region, miso potatoes are one of the most enjoyable winter treats of the area. Essentially baked potato covered in a sweet miso sauce, the dish is a traditional rural one is and is particularly popular now as a street stall snack. The sweet & savoury miso flavour and earthy baked potato texture is a natural combination.

Miso potato (Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/jetalone/5472997143/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">Hajime NAKANO / CC BY 2.0</a>)
Miso potato (Photo: Hajime NAKANO / CC BY 2.0)

Udon Noodles

As befitting a region known for its wheat, Saitama is home to scores of different takes on udon noodles. Depending on the region, you can find the nikumiso udon of Kazo, with its 300-year old tradition of firmer noodles, the mightily wide noodles of Konosu known as kawahaba udon - river width noodles - as well as the warm dipping soup of Kumagaya udon.

Kawahaba udon noodles (Photo: <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kawahaba-udon_001.jpg" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">Ocdp / CC0 1.0</a>)
Kawahaba udon noodles (Photo: Ocdp / CC0 1.0)

Senbei Rice Crackers

While Saitama was never a major rice producer, the rice it did make found its way into Soka City which subsequently became the home of savoury senbei rice cracker. Historically made with rice grilled over charcoal and brushed with soy sauce, this now quintessential Japanese snack comes in a huge array of flavours, shapes and textures.

Senbei rice crackers (Photo: <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Japanese_Senbeis.jpg" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">DryPot / CC BY-SA 3.0</a>)
Senbei rice crackers (Photo: DryPot / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Sweet Potatoes

Famous for its historical satsuma imo sweet potato harvests, Kawagoe City offers a multitude of street snacks and confectionery sweets made from their famous crop. The sweet potato, with its rich texture, subtle sweetness and delectable aroma, is a common sight at street stalls and supermarkets.

Satsuma imo sweet potato (Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/32539604@N00/9717729788/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">Kakei.R / CC BY-SA 2.0</a>)
Satsuma imo sweet potato (Photo: Kakei.R / CC BY-SA 2.0)