The Top Local Dishes in Kumamoto

ByJustin Hanus
Jun 28, 2022

The Top Local Dishes in Kumamoto

Kumamoto is known for its diverse cuisine. As well as Japanese food, you can find restaurants in Kumamoto serving food from all over the world, including from China, India, Korea, and Turkey. During your time in Kumamoto, don’t neglect to try some of the local dishes, though. There are a few in particular that are particularly representative of the prefecture.


The most famous dish from Kumamoto is horse meat sashimi, called basashi. Although it’s less popular with tourists, it’s a favorite with locals due to the lean meat’s low fat and high protein content. The taste of the meat itself is mild, but the dish is usually served with other ingredients that have intense flavors, including garlic, ginger, and soy sauce.
Another way to eat horse meat is in a hotpot. When cooked, the meat is more tender.

Kumamoto Ramen

Although ramen is available around Japan, it’s slightly different wherever you go. Kumamoto ramen uses a broth made from pork along with medium-size noodles. It features several toppings, but the defining flavor is garlic from the roasted chips and garlic-infused oil.


Another noodle dish from Kumamoto is taipien. The soup is inspired by Chinese cuisine and features vermicelli glass noodles, seafood, and green vegetables. It’s a good choice for lunch when you want something light.

Sea Urchin

For more seafood, try sea urchin. The taste is just as intense as the bright orange tone would suggest.

Karashi Renkon

Lotus root is prepared in Kumamoto into a spicy dish called karashi renkon. It is covered in a paste made from hot mustard and miso, then deep-fried until crispy. It’s best accompanied by beer as a snack in the evening or as a side for a meal.

Ikinari Dango

Kumamoto also has a signature dessert: ikinari dango. The sweet potato slices are filled with red bean paste and coated in chewy flour to create dumplings. These are steamed and served hot or cold. You can purchase them from street food stalls or in stores selling confectionery. As well as the traditional flavor, they come in varieties like walnut and chestnut.

Chosen Ame

One more option for a sweet snack is “chosen ame,” which means “Korean sweet.” It’s not Korean, though. It was made for soldiers sent to Korea in the Imjin War. It has a base of glutinous rice and is sweetened.


The last thing to try in Kumamoto is not a dish but a drink. Shochu is a popular alternative to sake and has a long history in Kumamoto. The prefecture makes its own variety produced by rice from Hitoyoshi, where the water is exceptionally pure.

If you are staying in Kumamoto for an extended period, you’re in luck as you’ll be able to try all these local dishes and more. Be adventurous to make the most of your time in Kumamoto. Your tastebuds will thank you!

Igorberger, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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