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Culinary Traditions of Northern Japan: Discovering unique and delicious dishes like grilled hokke (local fish)

The Delights of Northern Japan’s Cuisine

Japanese cuisine is world-renowned, but many people may not be as familiar with the unique culinary traditions of Northern Japan. This region boasts a range of mouthwatering dishes that showcase local ingredients and flavors. One standout dish is grilled hokke.

Grilled Hokke: A Northern Japanese Specialty

Hokke is a type of local fish found in the Northern regions of Japan. Though it is not as well known as other types of fish like salmon or tuna, hokke has a delicious natural flavor and a hearty texture that makes it a local favorite. Hokke is often grilled whole and served with condiments like soy sauce or ponzu (a citrus-based sauce). True to the Japanese culinary tradition of using every part of the ingredient, the hokke is often cooked with its scales and its internal organs intact, resulting in a dish with a unique texture and depth of flavor.

Other Northern Japanese Dishes to Try

Grilled hokke is just one of the many unique dishes to try when visiting Northern Japan. Here are a few other favorites:
  • Wanko Soba: A local specialty dish from Iwate perfect for noodle lovers. Wanko Soba is served in small bowls and you are challenged to finish as many bowls (which are quickly refilled) as you can!
  • Miso Ramen: The town of Sapporo boasts the best miso ramen in Japan. The soup is made with a thick miso paste, and toppings may include corn, butter, and bean sprouts.
  • Zunda: A sweet paste made from edamame beans that is commonly served in the Tohoku region as a dessert or spread on toast for breakfast.


Northern Japan is a treasure trove of unique and delicious dishes that showcase the region’s local ingredients and traditions. From grilled hokke to Wanko Soba, there is something to delight every palate. Next time you find yourself in Northern Japan, be sure to give these dishes a try!
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