Food and drink

A Tasting Tour of Japan’s Shikoku Island

Rob Goss savours the regional culinary dishes and flavours of Shikoku Island, the smallest of Japan's main islands but a contender to be its tastiest

Regional flavours make travelling around Japan a foodie’s delight. The four prefectures that comprise Japan’s Shikoku Island – Ehime in the west, Kagawa in the north, Kochi in the south and Tokushima out east – are perfect examples. Here are some classic Shikoku dishes to look out for.

Tokushima Ramen

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One of Japan’s less-heralded ramen variations – and criminally so – Tokushima ramen features thin, softish noodles topped with green onions, pork belly and beansprouts. One Tokushima twist is that it can also be served with a raw egg on top. The main quirk, however, is that Tokushima ramen broth comes in three different hues – brown (the most common), yellow or white, depending on the combination of stock and the type of soy sauce in the mix – although each one tastes a little sweeter and saltier than a typical ramen. There are plenty of no-frills places to slurp up Tokushima ramen in Tokushima city, but the brown broth  version at Inotani (4-25 Nishidaikumachi; +81 886531482) is widely considered a standout.

Sanuki Udon

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For many Japanese, sanuki udon is the most identifiably Shikoku Island dish. Hailing from Kagawa, these slightly springy wheat noodles are typically served in a stock made with dried sardines and can come with a variety of toppings – a raw egg mixed into the bowl and a sprinkling of green onions is one classic option. It’s Shikoku soul food at its simplest and best. You’ll find sanuki udon all over Shikoku Island – there are an estimated 800 restaurants in Kagawa prefecture alone.

Katsuo no Tataki

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Nothing says Kochi like katsuo no tataki: bonito tuna that’s seared over a straw fire just enough to scorch the outside while the fleshy centre remains tender and raw. Served in slices with raw garlic and onions (or green onions) and a sprinkling of ponzu sauce – a mix of soy, citrus and sake – it goes extremely well with beer or sake. Head to Hirome Market (2 Chome-3-1 Obiyamachi, Kochi) in the heart of Kochi city to find dozens of stalls and food stands serving it. The market is especially lively at night with the after-work crowd.

Uwajima Tai Meshi

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Tai (red snapper) is the main ingredient in this Ehime signature dish, which is almost as much fun to prepare as it is to eat. You begin by mixing a raw egg into a soy- and fish-stock-based sauce before adding chunks of raw snapper, then pour the entire mixture onto a bowl of hot rice. The Dogo area of Matsuyama has some great tai meshi joints. Try Gansui (3-6-4 Okaido) or Kadoya (20-24 Dogoyunomachi).

Cathay Dragon will launch flights to Tokushima on 11 December 2019

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