Nagoya is known for several specialty foods. One dish is an epic mashup of two of my favorite foods– Miso and Katsu.
Exploring kyodo ryori— or local specialties– is a fun way to become better acquainted with a city in Japan. Towns and cities pride themselves on these special foods, so you get to learn something about a city’s unique character.
It’s also quite delicious.
Aomori has it’s apples, which are juicy and flavorful, but you won’t find me complaining about having to try Nagoya’s special dish– Miso Katsu.
Miso is a paste made of fermented soybeans. It’s used to make the soup served with a meal in virtually any Japanese restaurant around the world.
Miso is a savory ingredient whose flavor can vary wildly among different miso makers.
Katsu is a pork cutlet that is coated with panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) and deep-fried until crunchy and golden-brown. When done right, katsu is light and crunchy on the outside, while moist and tender on the inside.
I like katsu and I’ve been having a lot of katsu since arriving in Japan. I wouldn’t say I eat katsu every day, but if I don’t have any katsu for a few days, I expect there would be withdrawals.
Considering the fact that I like both miso and katsu, I was immediately intrigued when I learned about Nagoya’s miso katsu.
As we explore the streets of Nagoya, we keep our eyes peeled for a unique establishment that might prove to be an interesting place to try this dish. However, as the afternoon wore on without any luck finding such a restaurant, we decide to stop at the next katsu shop we encounter.
Like many restaurants in Japan, this one doesn’t really have a name of its own– it just says “Katsu-ya” (“Katsu Shop”) on the sign above the door.
This particular katsu-ya serves a few different katsu dishes, but thankfully their main focus is on miso katsu.
We order the miso katsu, and fill our cups with some hot green tea while we wait.
When the freshly-cooked miso katsu arrives, it’s nothing at all like I expected. Instead of a pale tan color, the miso sauce is dark red in color.
Of course, no meal in Japan would be complete without being accompanied by a bowl of rice.
The red miso sauce is rich and flavorful. The sauce does not scream “miso” at you, but rather subtly hints at its miso underpinnings.
This is not the type of sauce normally served with katsu. Tonkatsu sauce is generally on the sweet side, while this is definitely in “salty” territory. The flavor is like a mix between normal tonkatsu sauce and BBQ sauce– with a liberal dose of salt added for good measure.
In fact, if it were not for the rice, it might be too salty.
I’m not sure yet if I’m sold on the sauce, but the katsu is unquestionably good. It’s golden brown, crunchy on the outside, and soft and tender on the inside.
It does not take long for us to make short work of the miso katsu.
After we finish out meal, we enjoy another cup of green tea and relax for a bit. Once we are sufficiently rejuvenated by the green tea and miso katsu, we shoulder our bags and head back out into the streets to resume our exploring in Nagoya.
- Arrival: Roast Pork & Udon
- Nagoya Station City
- Nagoya Underground
- Epic Mashup: Nagoya’s Miso Katsu
- Hands in the Air: Street Sculpture in Nagoya
- A Moment of Peace in the Park