Great Winter Food in Kansai

ByJustin Hanus
Nov 29, 2022

Great Winter Food in Kansai

Japan can get pretty chilly during the winter months. Fortunately, the country excels when it comes to hearty winter meals. As are regional variations, seasonal ingredients and dishes are very important in Japanese cuisine. Many of the country’s staple dishes have several different regional twists. Here is a selection of what you can look forward to in the Kansai region.


Tofu is eaten all year round in Japan, but it’s especially prevalent following the end of the soybean harvest in autumn. Yudofu is a regional tofu dish (the translation is ‘hot tofu’) that is very popular in Kansai throughout the winter. It consists of tofu pieces boiled in a dashi broth to which soy or ponzu sauce is added. Popular accompaniments include vegetables or grated wasabi. This dish became popularized by Buddhist monks in Kyoto many years ago due to tofu being one of the best protein sources for vegetarians and its ability to keep people warm in colder periods.


This is a Japanese stew or hotpot enjoyed all over the country. It’s typically made with a soy broth and cooked with various additional ingredients, including eggs, fishcakes, tofu, vegetables, daikon radish, or potatoes. It’s often served with karashi mustard as an accompaniment. Kansai oden is sometimes known as kanto-daki and can be made with a beef-based broth. Local specialties include the Himeji oden in Hyogo, which is cooked using a ginger broth.

Shabu Shabu

Shabu Shabu is another kind of Japanese hotpot winter favorite. It originated in Osaka in the 20th century and differed from many other hotpot dishes because ingredients are dipped into the broth and cooked one at a time, like the European fondu dish. The broth base usually consists of kombu seaweed; cooked ingredients include beef, fish, vegetables, or tofu. Each element is then dipped in a sauce (typically soy, ponzu, or sesame) and served with a side dish such as noodles, rice, or grated daikon.


Crab is considered the “king of the winter seafood” and is very popular in Kansai and other parts of Japan between November and March each year. You can enjoy this food boiled, grilled, or even sashimi (raw). Another popular way to eat crab in winter is tempura-style, cooked in a crispy coating. This is often served at street food kiosks and restaurants in Kansai.


Another nabe hotpot dish, sukiyaki, is a popular dish served at Japanese New Year parties and is a great sharing meal. It typically consists of thin strips of beef cooked in a broth made of soy, sugar, and rice wine. Other common ingredients are tofu, cabbage, mushrooms, and noodles. Sukiyaki is usually served with a dipping sauce made from a beaten egg.


This dense winter stew favorite is a Western-inspired dish more similar in style and texture to European stews than typical Japanese broths. British Royal Navy stew dishes influenced it in the 19th century in Japan. The Kansai version consists of beef, potatoes, and vegetables in a soy or dashi broth served with either boiled rice or miso soup as a side.

Ocdp, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

About the author

Justin Hanus editor

Leave a Reply