If you travel around Japan, you will soon realize that each area has its own regional cuisine and that people love to combine sightseeing with trying the specialties of their holiday destination. So, when a friend visited me in Miyazaki Prefecture, the first item written on her to-do list wasn’t a tourist destination, but to eat real Chicken Nanban!
Chicken Nanban (チキン南蛮)
You might have seen Chicken Nanban on the menus of restaurants all over Japan as a kind of fried chicken karaage (唐揚げ) with tartar sauce, but the original dish is surprisingly different to this! Chicken Nanban was originally conceived in Nobeoka City in northern Miyazaki Prefecture in the 1970s as chicken cutlet soaked in a sweet vinegar sauce. One of the original recipes doesn’t even add tartar sauce to the recipe but is still very popular.
You can find Chicken Nanban almost everywhere in the Prefecture, especially in Nobeoka, and every place has their own special recipe. Chicken breast fillet is often used to make the dish, but there are also variations using chicken thigh fillet. Chicken Nanban with tartar sauce is especially popular. In addition to restaurants, cafes, bars, and supermarkets sell Chicken Nanban. It is also a popular dish for lunch boxes and, from time to time, convenience stores in Miyazaki Prefecture have even sold special Chicken Nanban rice balls. The dish is so popular that one of the mascots in Nobeoka City is called “Chikinan-Bancho” and July 8th (as 7 can be read as “nan” and 8 as “ban” in Japanese) is known as Chicken Nanban Day!
A second dish I recommend to people visiting Northern Miyazaki is Karamen, a spicy noodle soup. Spicy dishes are popular in many countries with a warm climate and Karamen is perfect for warm summer days in one of Japan’s sunniest prefectures. Depending on the Karamen restaurant, you can choose not only some of the ingredients, but also your spice level. Some places, for example Masumoto（桝元）, offer over 20 spice levels! I recommend ordering the soup with its characteristic konyaku noodles, ground meat and many garlic cloves. If you order the soup at a high spice level, the broth will look dark red. However, you might want to start with a less dangerous level.
Other Regional Specialties and Ingredients
Miyazaki Prefecture is producing many delicious ingredients that you shouldn’t miss when visiting the prefecture. The prefecture is especially well known for Miyazaki beef, which is known in Japan as a brand with a quality even higher than the worldwide famous Kobe beef! Further, fruits like mango and hyuganatsu, a citrus fruit, are known for their delicious flavor. And don’t forget to try various beverages like shochu, sake or beer that are produced in many local breweries when visiting Miyazaki!