【Japanese Gourmet】Affordable Local Gourmet Foods Pilgrimage: Fukui Edition

"Fukui Prefecture" is famous for dinosaurs, eyeglasses, crabs, etc. In addition to the standard Echizen soba and Echizen crab, there are actually many other gourmet foods that are still unknown. This time, we will introduce delicious food from Fukui in the Hokuriku region!

What is "B-grade gourmet"?

Unlike traditional local cuisine that represents the region, B-class gourmet does not use the unique Japanese cooking methods or gorgeous seasonal presentations that attract the attention of tourists. It is a comfort food that is cooked with local ingredients and has been loved by local people for a long time.

The reason why Fukui has delicious food

The reason why Fukui has delicious food

Fukui Prefecture is famous for its special products such as sake, soba, and rice. Fukui has water resources rich in minerals thanks to Mt. Hakusan, which straddles Fukui, Ishikawa, Gifu, and Toyama. The water resources that flow from Mt. Hakusan into Fukui is rich in minerals, and the spring water in various places in the prefecture, such as Ono City, Sabae City, and Obama City, has been certified as "Fukui's delicious water."

In particular, Ono City is home to “Hongan Shoozu”, which is a habitat for three-spined stickleback fish (イトヨ / Itoyo, a national Natural Monument), and “Oshozu”, which was selected as one of the “Top 100 Famous Waters of Japan”. Moreover, Fukui borders the Sea of Japan, so seafood such as Echizen crab and Fukui sweet shrimps in winter are also famous.

Fukui B-grade Gourmet

Sauce katsudon (cutlet bowl)

Sauce katsudon (cutlet bowl)

Sauce katsudon (ソースカツ丼) is also known as the “comfort food” of Fukui residents. If you order "katsudon" in Fukui, you will not get an egg-covered rice bowl, but rather a simple and hearty dish with several slices of lightly sauced pork cutlet on top of rice.

There are various theories about its origin, but the long-established Western-style "Yo-roppa Ken" (ヨーロッパ軒 - 'Europe Ken') is said to be the restaurant where the dish has originated. The founder, "Masutaro Takabatake", opened a restaurant in Waseda, Tokyo after completing his culinary study abroad in Germany, selling sauce katsudon. Although the restaurant was destroyed by the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, Mr. Takahata reopened "Yo-roppa Ken" (currently the main store of Fukui Yo-roppa Ken) in his hometown of Fukui the following year. Based in Fukui, the name recognition of the sauce katsudon has been skyrocketed.

Nowadays, there are many restaurants in the prefecture that sell sauce katsudon, but the taste of the sauce varies from store to store. If you have time, visit several restaurants and find your favorite!

Shoyu katsudon (Soy sauce cutlet bowl)

Shoyu katsudon (Soy sauce cutlet bowl)

At first glance, it looks like sauce katsudon, but in fact the appearance and taste are completely different.

"Shoyu Katsudon" (醤油カツ丼) is a B-grade gourmet developed in 2010 by Mr. Akeshi Nomura, the 6th generation owner of the long-established soy sauce store "Nomura Shoyu" in Ono City, Fukui Prefecture, with the help of local restaurants.

In order to call it “shoyu katsudon”, three conditions must be met: use soy sauce produced in Fukui Prefecture, serve cutlets, and plentifully top them with vegetables. Soy sauce katsudon has a lighter taste than sauce katsudon, as the soy sauce used is made from Fukui's high-quality spring water.

Instead of loin cutlets, there are restaurants that serve mackerel cutlets and vegetable cutlets such as tomatoes and eggplants. One of shoyu katsudon's features that sauce katsudon does not have is that you can eat plenty of vegetables. If you want to enjoy the taste of Fukui while considering the balance of nutrition and taste, we recommend the refreshing shoyu katsudon!

Tsuruga ramen

Tsuruga Ramen

"Tsuruga Ramen" (敦賀ラーメン), which features a rich soy sauce based soup made from pork bones and chicken broth with medium-thin noodles, is a local gourmet dish that all Japanese who eat it for the first time say, "It tastes nostalgic."

It originated in a ramen stall that operated around Tsuruga Station in Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture. During the Showa period, when truck transportation was popular, there were more than a dozen ramen stalls lined up along National Route 8 near Tsuruga Station. Truck drivers stopped by the stalls as a place to take a rest, thus the name of Tsuruga ramen gradually spread throughout the country.

Along National Route 8, many ramen stalls are still open at night, including "Ichiriki" (一力), and are loved by many locals.

Volga rice

Volga rice

“Volga rice” (ボルガライス) is a Western-style dish that was born in the Takefu area of Echizen City, Fukui Prefecture. It is an omelet rice and topped with tonkatsu and a special sauce (demiglace sauce, ketchup, or white sauce, etc.).

The way it is made varies, and the contents of the omelet rice, the type of cutlet, and the sauce may differ from store to store.

This dish has been popular in the Takefu area for over 30 years, but its origin and place of birth remain unknown. Regarding the origin of the name, there are two theories that have been handed down: the "Russian cuisine theory" (because eggs are used in the same way as the Russian dish called "Volga") and the "Italian regional cuisine theory" (similar to the dishes eaten in the Borgana region of Italy). Although shrouded in mystery, it can be said to be a local gourmet dish that excites people with various arrangements.