When it comes to meibutsu, food associated with a particular region of Japan, Nagoya is probably best known for miso katsu, tebasaki and hitsumabushi. Perhaps one dish that is closely connected to Nagoya yet has a further reaching popularity, is ebi furai.
Developed at the turn of the 20th century as a reaction to the growing popularity of other Meiji era yoshoku, western inspired dishes such as tonkatsu and omrice in the restaurants of Tokyo, Ebi Furai, or deep fried breaded prawn, is enjoyed all over the country. No matter where you go in Japan, you can probably find ebi furai on an Izakaya menu or in a bento box.
Many Nagoyans take for granted that the dish originated within their city, due to the fact that Aichi’s official fish is the tiger prawn, and that the fried prawns resemble the golden Kinshachi that adorn the top of Nagoya Castle. However, the most likely connection is a more recent one, thanks down to the popular sunglassed comedian and super-talent Taomri joking that Nagoyans pronounced it as ebi furyaa. This dig at the Nagoya-ben accent (despite being factually inaccurate as foreign loan words tend not to be affected by Japanese dialects) has since cemented in the national consciousness the connection between ebi furai and Nagoya.
Whether a result of a joke or not, Naogya now takes ebi furai as seriously as it does the other Nagoya-meshi, and you can find it in virtually every restaurant that sells yoshoku. However, for a more eclectic experience, you could try out these restaurants:
Perhaps the most famous restaurant for ebi furai in Nagoya, on the 8th floor of the La Chic building in Sakae, you will find Maruha. Whilst you can find branches of this seafood orientated izakaya elsewhere in Nagoya, it is the views of the city and the airy atmosphere that makes this one stand out. More impressive, however, are the immense fried prawns, in particular the maki ebi furai, a deep fried prawn rolled and sliced in the style of maki sushi.
La Chic 8F, Sakae 3-6-1, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya
This chain of small cafés dotted around the city is famed for one thing and one thing only, the ebi furai sand (fried prawn sandwich). While not particularly well known outside of the local community, for 930JPY, the sandwich in the house’s special sauce, is definitely worth seeking out.
Check website for your local cafe or head to the Mei-eki branch: Meieki 3-14-15 Nakamura-ku, Nagoya
When it comes to Nagoyan ebi furai, big is most certainly better. Nagoyans pride their fried prawns as being not in the slightest bit shrimpy, and at surely at nowhere else do they come as big as at Kitchen Oumi in Chikusa. Measuring in at a whopping 30cm (12 inch), that’s a lot of prawn for your plate.
1-9-23 Chikusa, Nagoya, Chikusa-ku
If you don’t fancy heading out to get your ebi furai fill, why not try making your own? While we are big fans of ebi furai here at Japan Info Swap, we do not profess to be great chefs. As such we will leave the recipes to the experts. Try clicking on one of the links below and get frying up your very own Nagoya delicacy.
By Mark Guthrie
Image: compfight.com "Ebi Fry" by Buck82 (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) – Modified