Shizuoka Green Tea
Dubbed the “Kingdom of Green Tea,” Shizuoka is one of the most famous tea producing regions in Japan (along with Uji City in Kyoto prefecture). The concept of terroir, which in French culture describes the impact of soil and location on the taste of a wine, is just as valid with green tea; and the rolling hillsides of rich soil leading up to Shizuoka’s volcanic mountains and its pure spring water are perfect for growing Japan’s quintessential beverage.
Kuro Hanpen (Black Fish Cake)
Hanpen is a mild-flavored fish cake made from surimi fish paste, grated Japanese yam, and seaweed stock. It typically has a white color and comes in round, square, and triangular shapes. In Shizuoka specifically, kuro hanpen is made with mackerel and whole sardines, giving it a distinctive black or ash color. Kuro hanpen can be grilled and eaten with a mixture of ginger and soy sauce or served in oden stew.
Shizuoka Oden (Dark Oden)
Oden is a popular wintertime stew in Japan, made with various ingredients like fresh daikon radishes, hard-boiled eggs, chewy chikuwa fish cakes, and savory squid balls simmered in a soy sauce and dashi fish broth. Shizuoka has its own local take on oden where the ingredients are skewered and left to simmer for a long time in a dark broth made with beef tendons. More soup is added as the liquid cooks down, accentuating the concentrated flavors of the broth and skewered fish cakes that have been simmering in it. Shizuoka oden is eaten with spicy yellow mustard and a special seasoning made of dried fish powder and powdered aonori seaweed.
Sakura Ebi (Sakura Shrimp)
Sakura ebi are a tiny dried shrimp harvested in Shizuoka’s Suruga Bay. They’re named for their color, which many compare to the delicate pink of Japanese cherry blossoms. The shrimp are sun-dried through a traditional process that gives them a light, crisp texture and intensifies the savory umami flavor.
Currently famous across Japan is Fujinomiya yakisoba, a local dish of Fujinomiya City in Shizuoka Prefecture. Different from traditional yakisoba, Fujinomiya yakisoba is characterized by its chewy and firm texture. Most customers who eat Fujinomiya yakisoba for the first time are pleasantly surprised.
Mikkabi Mikan (Mikkabi Mandarin Oranges)
Mikkabi, a town located to the west of Hamamatsu City, has a mild climate that’s perfect for growing mikan, known in the West as mandarin oranges. Mikkabi mikan are known throughout Japan as being a premium variety that’s juicy and sweet, with just the right amount of refreshing citrus acidity. They’re also very easy to peel, with a thin skin that comes off cleanly in one piece. If you visit the Hamamatsu area, be sure to stop by a Mikkabi mikan farm for a fruit-picking tour.
Abekawa Mochi (Mochi Rice Cakes with Roasted Soybean Flour)
Abekawa mochi is one of the classic dishes of Shizuoka. This mochi (pounded rice cake) is dusted with roasted soybean flour and is characterized by its extreme softness. It could be said that Sekibeya is actually the birthplace of Abekawa mochi! The interior of this long-established restaurant contains old furniture and a raised tatami mat seating area.
Gyoza is a pan-fried dumpling made with finely minced pork, leek, and cabbage that found its way to Japan by way of China. In Shizuoka, gyoza is made Hamamatsu-style, with the dumplings arranged in a circle to fit as many dumplings as possible in the fry pan while cooking. When served, the ring of fried dumplings looks like an edible wreath. They’re eaten with a heap of moyashi bean sprouts piled high in the center of the ring.