Basashi (馬刺し “horse sashimi”) or sakura niku (桜肉, “cherry blossom meat”) are thin slices of baniku, raw horse meat (馬肉). It’s a unique delicacy that is eaten in certain parts of Japan. 

What is basashi?

Basashi is horse meat sashimi, a specialty in Kumamoto prefecture (southern Japan), although it is also eaten in Aomori, Nagano, and Oita. 
Horse meat is leaner, higher in protein, and lower in calories and fat than pork or beef. Depending on its maturity, the color can range from pink to dark red, hence its name “sakura niku.” The taste is slightly sweet with a hint of gaminess and is like a cross between venison and beef. 
The cuts of meat can be categorized into three groups: fatty, lean, and marbled. Other horse parts, such as mane fat, liver, and tongue, are prized as a small portion is obtained per animal. 
The majority of the horses slaughtered for consumption are imported from Canada, Mexico, Italy, Argentina, and Brazil.  

How is basashi eaten?

Like fish sashimi, basashi is dipped into condiments. It’s usually eaten with sliced onions, grated ginger, Japanese horseradish, and garlic, then dipped in a sweet soy sauce, a specialty of southern Japan. 
While basashi refers to raw horse meat, it can also be grilled, smoked, and added to hot pot dishes. There are other more creative dishes such as baniku pizza, baniku ice cream, and baniku burgers. 
While it’s an acquired dish, it’s a must-try if you visit Kumamoto. Don’t forget to accompany with some local shochu (焼酎, Japanese distilled alcohol)!