While Hiroshima isn’t as immediately famous as other cities in Japan for its local delicacies, that doesn’t mean there aren’t many unique Hiroshima dishes and fantastic restaurants to seek out. In particular, Hiroshima is known for its grilled, sticky, savory pancake okonomiyaki and its fresh seafood, most notably oysters. The small port city of Kure even has its own style of Japanese curry that won’t be found anywhere else in Japan. That’s not all to discover, though, and there’s no doubt delving into Hiroshima’s local cuisine will leave you hungry for more. Here are eight of Hiroshima's must-try dishes.
Hiroshima Onomichi Ramen
You can’t travel to a Japanese city or prefecture without trying the local ramen. Doing so would be to miss out on the local flavor. In Hiroshima, this includes indulging in some Onomichi style noodles. Flat springy noodles are combined with a silky soy sauce, fish, and pig bone broth before, typically, being topped with tender chāshū pork, scallions, and beansprouts. One of the most beloved ramen joints in the city, Youki has two local branches, including within Hiroshima Station, and has been serving up steaming bowls of Hiroshima-style ramen for over 60 years. You can also visit one of the branches of Ippudo in Hiroshima for a wider variety of ramen, including vegan options.
Ni-Anago (Saltwater Eel)
Eel is a prevalent dish across Japan, and you're likely familiar with unagi in its many forms. However, unagi and anago differ because unagi refers to freshwater eel, whereas anago refers to saltwater eel. Anago is particularly popular in Hiroshima, and this is one of the best places to try the dish. Known to be less fatty and enjoyed for its soft, flaky texture and naturally sweet flavor, Anago is also typically served broiled on top of rice. Two of the best places to try this dish are Tsuki Akari, which also has English menus available, and the historic restaurant Anagomeshi.
Okonomiyaki is a truly signature Hiroshima dish that is also served in the Kansai region—albeit with some subtle differences in preparation. Okonomiyaki can be described as a style of customizable shredded cabbage pancake that is fried up with toppings of your choice, such as seafood, scallions, and pork. Hiroshima style will also typically include fried egg and noodles and will be cooked in front of you on a flat top grill. The pancake is finally topped with sweet okonomiyaki sauce (which consists primarily of dates), mayonnaise, and bonito fish flakes. Make sure to visit Okonomiyaki Village (Okonomimura) for endless restaurants to choose from.
A delicious snack or souvenir with over a hundred years of history, particularly popular on Miyajima Island, Momoji Manju is a must-try while in Hiroshima. A small maple-leaf-shaped cake, it’s usually filled with sweet bean paste, but other varieties like cream cheese, chocolate cream, or custard can be found. Found in most confectionery shops or freshly cooked on the grill at multiple stalls on Miyajima, you won’t have any trouble finding this sweet treat, but Momijido is regarded as a go-to establishment.
Tsukemen is an original Hiroshima dish that is incredibly addictive and ideal for anyone who loves a bit of spice in their food. You will be served a bowl of noodles with chili, soup stock, and sesame oil-based dipping sauce with a side of spring onion, cabbage, and toppings of your choice such as ramen egg and pork slices. Just dip your noodle and sides in the sauce and enjoy. Be ready to decide what spice level you’re on board for, as some shops will have as many as 12 options to choose from. Recommended restaurants include Bakudanya inside Hiroshima Station and Reimenya, who only serve this specialty dish.
Hiroshima is famous for its seafood, and particularly its oysters, so there’s no better city to try them in. With no end to the delicious ways you can sample this shellfish, including marinated, battered, and served as tempura, in curry, pan-fried, or steamed, the world is literally your oyster. Some notable places to get stuck into some seafood include Ekohiiki, where oysters are perfectly paired with sake and delicious sides, and Guttsuri-an, where you can barbecue your own seafood, including oysters.
One of Hiroshima’s most popular dishes, these spicy soupless noodles are filling, cheap, and keep you coming back for more. Your dish will contain a mix of miso, green onion, and a small amount of spicy broth; a portion of noodles sits on top, which you then have the fun task of mixing together until the noodles are completely coated. Shiru-nashi Tantanmen is based on the Sichuan Chinese dish dan dan mian but is a generally more stripped-down version with less broth served. There are restaurants serving this dish everywhere, so you will have no trouble finding it, but a great place to try this noodle dish is King Ken—just order your meal on the vending machine found outside any of the five branches. Or Kunimatsu, which is conveniently located near Hiroshima Castle.
Kure Kaiji Curry
Kaiji curry (or navy curry) is a staple of the nearby port city of Kure. Sailors from every country and culture around the world are known for their superstitions and rituals. The Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (Kaijo Jietai) is no different. One of their popular traditions, inspired by superstition, is eating a local curry dish every single Friday. The ritual actually comes from a logically sound place: by eating the same food every seven days, sailors out at sea can more easily keep track of the days. While Japanese curry is one of the nation’s staple dishes, this Kure style of curry was initially only cooked and eaten aboard naval vessels. Today, however, local restaurants cook and serve it up to anyone who visits and orders it. So, if you’re looking for a unique local twist on Japanese curry that you can’t get anywhere else, you’ll have to travel to Kure City in Hiroshima. Tsuboyaki Curry is a great option if you are wondering where to start.