Kanto Cuisine: Typical Food From the Region

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Kanto cuisine

Kanto is a central region of Japan with a varied climate, freshwater lakes, and extensive coastline. As well as being internationally famed for the fine-dining restaurants of Tokyo, Kanto is also home to a number of different regional ingredients and speciality dishes.

The Kanto region’s culinary identity is shaped by its strong flavors, robust ingredients from a varied climate, and historical influences dating back to the Edo period. All these contribute to the rich culinary tradition of the area, with each of the 7 prefectures (Chiba, Tokyo, Ibaraki, Kanagawa, Gunma, Tochigi, Saitama) in Kanto having various regional specialities.

The top restaurants to visit in Kanto are the 7 Japanese 3-star Michelin restaurants in Tokyo: Azabu Kadowaki, Kohaku, Kanda, Makimura, Ryugin, Kagurazaka and Harutaka.

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What food is Kanto famous for?

Kanto is famous for gyoza, dumplings; anko nabe, monkfish hotpot; and the flat udon “Kanto noodles”. What is known worldwide as “sushi” is Edo-mai, the sushi that originated in Kanto. It is also well-known for fine-dining food in Tokyo, the city with the most 3-star Michelin restaurants in the world.

There are 7 prefectures in Kanto, each of which is known and renowned for different sorts of food specialities.


Chiba has a rich coastline, which supplies, among other species, fresh sardines and mackerel. It also has active meat and dairy production, which informs many of its classic dishes.

5 of the best known are:

  • Namero: a traditional fisherman’s dish of chopped fish with herbs and condiments, eaten raw, like fish tartare.
  • Sangayaki: similar to namero, but made exclusively with sardines and mackerel and grilled or fried.
  • Unagi-don: eel on a bed of rice. Eel has a rich history in this region, stretching back to the Edo period.
  • Gau ramen: the ramen broth is specially refined with milk and cream cheese here, due to the extensive dairy sector.
  • Futomakizushi: a special type of rolled sushi, where different colored fillings are revealed as the sushi roll is sliced.


Traditional Tokyo cuisine tends to be hearty and well-flavored, reflecting the roots of the working-class heritage. But as an international metropolis, Tokyo is also full of foreign flavors and is the city with the most 3-star Michelin restaurants in the world.

5 classic dishes from Tokyo are:

  • Fukagawa meshi: a seafood soup containing leeks and clams in a miso broth, traditionally served in spring.
  • Monjayaki: similar to okonomiyaki, often made with squid and prawns.
  • Dojou nabe: an earthy hotpot made with the loach fish, often served in working-class areas.
  • Sushi: Tokyo is the inventor of modern sushi – known as Edo-mai after the Edo bay in Tokyo in which the seafood is fished.
  • Oden: a soy and bonito broth with additional ingredients such as eggs, fishcakes and skewered tofu.


Ibaraki has an agricultural heritage and rich soil for grazing animals. The region is also known for deep-sea fishing off the coast.

Here are 5 of the region’s best-known dishes:

  • Anko Nabe Hotpot: a speciality winter hotpot made with angler fish (monkfish) meat, a local delicacy.
  • Ankimo: monkfish liver. Monkfish liver is known as the fois gras of the ocean.
  • Hitachi wagyu beef: one of the best known wagyus in Japan.
  • Natto: fermented soybeans; they are eaten all over Japan, but Ibaraki is the number one consumer and producer.
  • Miso toasted peanuts: a popular snack with drinks.


Kanagawa is a mixture of inland mountains and coastlines with abundant seafood. The port cities of the region have led to international influences, and the temples of the mountains are an inspiration for kencho jiru – religious vegan dining.

5 dishes that the region is well known for are:

  • Kaigun curry: a sweet, stew-like curry from the city of Yokosuka in Kanagawa.
  • Gyu-nabe beef hotpot: the port city of Yokosuka saw the first beef in the country; it was used in this local hotpot with miso broth.
  • Shirasu-don: tiny sardines served on rice, sometimes boiled, sometimes raw.
  • Kencho jiru: a vegan kombu-based soup with vegetables; classically served in Buddhist temples.
  • Kuro Tamago: black eggs boiled in the hot sulphuric spring water in Hakone


Gunma is unusual in Japan with a focus on wheat, rather than rice as its staple carbohydrate. It is also a cultivator of fish and has a variety of rural hotpots, meaning the region is sometimes known as Japan’s soul food kitchen.

5 regional specialities of Gunma are:

  • Yaki manju: roasted steamed manju, which are balls of dough filled with sweet red bean paste.
  • Ginhikari: rainbow trout, which is farmed in the region.
  • Kanto noodles: local flat udon noodles, made of wheat, often claimed to be among the best in the country
  • Okkirikomi: a type of regional hotpot that makes use of the udon noodles.
  • Konnyaku: a chewy, versatile product made from the konjac root, and used in the noodle dish shiritaki.


With a warm, mild climate, Tochigi is the king of strawberry producers in Japan. It is also home to many renowned fresh water sources, including Lake Benten.

Here are 5 of the delicacies you will find in Tochigi:

  • Yuba: the delicate skin that forms on soy milk while tofu is made. It’s skimmed off and eaten alone, or in dishes with a mild taste and a texture often compared to cheese.
  • Gyoza: pan-fried, deep-fried or boiled dumplings with international fame.
  • Sauce katsudon: the signature dish of Ashikaga City, this sweet vegetable sauce is used as a dressing for pork served with cabbage or rice.
  • Tochiotome strawberries: the number one variety of strawberries in Japan.
  • Sano ramen: noodles prized for their luscious texture, which comes from the waters of Lake Benten.


Saitama is another region that favors wheat production, with which they make udon noodles. There are many different types of udon from this region, including nikumisi and kawahaba udon.

5 specialties of the region are:

  • Gokabo: a pastry of glutinous rice, sweetened and rolled in “kinako” – toasted soybean flour.
  • Hiyajiru Udon: a cold udon noodle dish, served with dashi stock and sesame seeds.
  • Chichibu potatoes: hearty baked potatoes with miso
  • Satsuma imo: sweet potatoes, served as street food or confectionary
  • Zeri Furai: little fried potato and vegetable croquettes, served with Worcestershire dipping sauce.

What restaurants do you go when eating in Kanto?

There are 11 restaurants in Tokyo which hold 3 Michelin stars; of those, 7 serve Japanese cuisine. Azabu Kadowaki, Kohaku, Kanda, Makimura, Ryugin and Kagurazaka have all achieved this pinnacle of gastronomic success, as has Harutaka, which specializes in sushi.

For a more earthy, informal experience, Omoide Yokocho “memory lane” in Tokyo is an area of back alleys and narrow lanes that is home to more than sixty restaurants, izakayas and bars. Daikokuya is one of them, especially recommended for its sake varieties, yakitori, and grilled fish.

The website Japan Travel recommends the Tomita chain of ramen restaurants in Chiba, for the local Gau-ramen speciality, and Kawatoyo as the best place for unagi-don.

Ashimaen in Gunma is highly recommended by locals for enormous portions of Japanese curry, and food blogger Yummy Delight recommends the patissier Kusatsu Choju Ten for yaki manju.

In Ibaraki, Steakhouse Senri serves the local Hitachi Wagyu beef, and the Visit Ibaraki Guide recommends Jikyuan, Nakaya or Sova Tea Koshiji for handmade soba noodles. In Saitama, Tokujuan is recommended for an authentic Japanese family experience and the street stall Koedo Osatsuan for the region’s famous sweet potato chips.

The best place for yuba in Tochigi is Nikko’s, and Min Min is highly recommended for gyoza, with a small but delectable menu.

Japan Travel says that Coco Ichibanya Curry House is an excellent location for the typical curries of the Kanagawa region, and the Japan Society recommends Hachinoki for a Kencho-jiru restaurant.

How does Kanto differ from other regional Japanese food?

Kanto is different from other regional Japanese food in that it has been more widely exposed to international influences through its port cities. The diverse climate, humid in places, has also affected what crops or livestock are cultivated, leading to specialities deriving from local produce and coastal areas.

Other culinary regions of Japan are also famous, but Kanto, and Tokyo in particular is known for being one of the top culinary destinations in the world.

How does Kanto compare to Kansai cuisine?

Kanto cuisine differs significantly from Kansai cuisine. The two regions have distinct taste preferences and ingredients. Kansai cuisine tends to be milder and sweeter. Kanto cuisine is heavier, saltier, and more hearty, as a result of working-class heritage in Tokyo, and rural tastes in other parts of the region.

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Caroline first opened the doors to her own apartment in Berlin to guests, which was soon sold out. She then became the head chef of Muse Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg, for eight years, renowned for “international comfort food.”