Overview

With a wide variety of local foods, both traditional and popular, Tochigi Prefecture and its mountainous terrain, fresh waters and eagerness to adapt have seen the area serve up some of Japan's most famous foods. A smorgasbord of choices, Tochigi surprises with its variety and taste. From noodles and dumplings to fruits and meats, here is a simple guide to some of the regional cuisine of Tochigi.

Gyoza

Utsunomiya is Japan's capital city of gyoza. These delicious dumplings come pan fried as yaki-gyoza, deep-fried as age-gyoza, and water or broth-boiled as sui-gyoza. Filled with an assorted variety of fillings like pork, prawn, leek and even ingredients like cheese and kimchi, the gyoza quality here doesn't rely on condiments for its flavour.

Utsunomiya gyoza dumplings (Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/shuichi/2110409316" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">Shuichi Aizawa / CC BY 2.0</a>)
Utsunomiya gyoza dumplings (Photo: Shuichi Aizawa / CC BY 2.0)

Sauce katsudon

A bowl of rice or a plate of finely chopped cabbage topped with thick, hearty servings of juicy, deep fried pork, sauce katsudon is the signature dish of Ashikaga City. Liberally covered with a gently sweet fruit and vegetable sauce, the sauce katsudon of each restaurant challenges with their own secret sauce recipe.

Sauce katsudon (Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/em2me/55553693/in/photolist-25FeYbx-9XaQQe-5UJbi-2icoGNg-2icr2Zb-2ics75j-DDZdg-DDZaK-6RW5jv-4PTUBZ-3Ugvr9/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">Masao Hirasawa / CC BY-ND 2.0</a>)
Sauce katsudon (Photo: Masao Hirasawa / CC BY-ND 2.0)

Strawberries

Tochigi is the undisputed kingdom of strawberries in Japan and the number one variety is the tochiotome strawberry. Its rich and balanced flavour sits on a pedestal of taste with the massive sky berry strawberry and the sweet & juicy tochihime strawberry, a farm picking favourite. With its perfect weather and perfect cultivation, Tochigi's strawberries are perfect.

Tochiotome strawberries (cropped) (Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/onihisho/14150166389/in/photolist-nypiu2-4Fhcb3-7snBEg-iYLAmS-iYAnAt-S9acJ3-hYLpoW" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">salchuiwt / CC BY-SA 2.0</a>)
Tochiotome strawberries (cropped) (Photo: salchuiwt / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Sano ramen

Lake Benten is one of Japan's top 100 water sources and provides the water for Sano ramen's noodle preparation. These handmade noodles, pounded with a bamboo stick, are famous for their gentle and moist texture. The noodles are wavy, smooth to the taste and the clear soy sauce-based soup is clear, flavoursome and easy to enjoy.

Sano ramen (Photo: <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sano_ramen_002.jpg" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener nofollow">Ocdp / CC0 1.0</a>)
Sano ramen (Photo: Ocdp / CC0 1.0)