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A tour of Chiba’s gourmet specialties

Things to Do | Visit Chiba | Latest update:2022/07/08

Chiba Prefecture ranks as one of the five most agriculturally productive prefectures in Japan, thanks in large part to its mild marine climate and relative abundance of arable land. This agricultural heritage, in combination with a thriving fishing industry, has cultivated a rich food culture here over the centuries, and today Chiba offers a wide variety of comestible delights for visitors to experience. From the freshest vegetables and fruits, and even more “guilty” options like sweets and ramen, there are culinary delights to be found all over. Here, we want to show you some symbolic and famous foods that many have come to associate with Chiba.

Peanuts

It may not come to mind when thinking of Japanese foods, but Chiba is the number one producer of peanuts in Japan! There are 5 main types grown here, the most prominent one being “Chiba Handachi”. It has a rich flavor making it perfect for roasting. Some of the other varieties are sweeter, making them popular for peanut creams, sweets, or to be eaten straight or boiled. The star of the peanut show in Chiba however is “Peanuts Monaka”, a wafer-like cookie filled with a scrumptious chunky blend of peanuts and sweet anko bean paste. This treat is sold in souvenir shops nationwide, and brings the tastiness of Chiba’s peanuts to you in each perfect bite.

Namero

Source: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries website (https://www.maff.go.jp/j/keikaku/syokubunka/k_ryouri/search_menu/menu/namerou_chiba.html)

“Namero” is a different way to enjoy fish. Unlike sushi which has slices over rice, namero is a mash of diced fish meat that has been mixed with chopped green onions, ginger, and usually miso. It’s mashed until it has a patty-like consistency, making it easy to pick up directly with chopsticks. The consistency is similar to negi-toro, which you may have had at a sushi restaurant, and the fish used in namero is typically sardines or horse mackerel, and sometimes even flying fish! If you aren’t a fan of the “fishy” flavors, namero takes away some of that with the added flavors of ginger and onions, making these kinds of fish more enjoyable for certain people.

Katsuura Tantanmen

Wherever you go in Japan, you don’t have to look hard for a steaming bowl of noodles. Down on the east coast of Chiba is its second largest port of Katsuura, and you’ll soon find that the talk of the town is about their own special variety of ramen: tantanmen. Katsuura tantanmen uses a soy sauce base for the soup, and is topped with ground pork and a heap of chopped onions. What sets Katsuura tantanmen apart however is its striking red appearance due to a liberal use of ra-yu spicy oil. This hearty, spicy meal developed over time to suit the needs of fisherman and divers finishing their work in the cold hours of the morning. After work, a bowl of steaming, flavorful noodles is just what you need to recover and heat your cold body, and while ramen is typically seen as a dinner food, many continue this tradition of having Katsuura tantanmen in the morning. It’s an especially rewarding gourmet experience, particularly in the colder seasons.