Okayama is relatively a new destination for people all over the world, especially those in the Southeast Asia, mainly due to its connectivity. However, if you look at the Japan map carefully, you will find that Okayama is actually only a 90 minute train ride from Osaka.
This means you can just do a day trip here and be back in Osaka just after dinner. Most people will fly direct to Osaka, and for those with an extra free day, you can visit Okayama and explore the unique local foods and also do some sightseeing here.
So, what are the popular and must try food in Okayama? Well, there are quite a bit and here, I will share some of the more popular ones that you can try. This list of Okayama food is not Halal and is for general travelers. There are Halal food or Muslim friendly food, but they are not listed here.
Okayama White Peaches
Without fail, the number one most famous food is no other than the Okayama Peaches, which is probably the best peaches in Japan and around the world. They are seasonal, but can be bought at supermarkets or grocers, and they can cost anywhere from ¥1000 to ¥1500 per fruit.
The Okayama peach is also known as the White Peaches or ‘Momo’ in Japanese, and there are a few varieties of these available. The best time to try them fresh is during the summer period when they are readily available.
Grilling fresh Chiya beef is one of the best ways to cook it.
Chiya Beef From Okayama
Some of you might have heard of the famous Kobe Beef or Wagyu Beef from Japan, but over here in Okayama, they have their own special beef which is called Chiyagu or Chiya Beef. Due to limited supply of this tender beef, most people travel to Okayama just to experience this cut.
For any beef lover, you can explore Niimi City way up in the north of Okayama as they are commonly found there. There are about four or five reputable restaurants all over Okayama and one of the recommended places to try this is also at the Chiya Gyu Yakiniku Restaurant here. Address: 397-2 Shoden, Niimi, Okayama Prefecture 718-0013, Japan. Phone: +81 867-72-6605
Bara Sushi (Mix Sashimi over Rice)
For sashimi and rice lovers, the Bara Sushi is something popular here that you simply cannot afford to miss. Imagine various cuts of fresh sashimi topped over your rice bowl, mixed with the local Okayama vegetables.
One of the main reasons this dish was created is that people could enjoy one dish with multiple ingredients all mixed up into a bowl. Various places sell the Bara Sushi, and when you are exploring, keep a look out for this.
Nothing beats a freshly cooked oyster okonomiyaki when you are in Okayama.
Hinase Kakioko (Oyster Okonomiyaki)
If you have tried the common Okonomiyaki in Osaka or Hiroshima, then you have not tried the Okayama Okonomiyaki as they use fresh oyster for their version. This savory pancake is made from a vegetable batter, and when combined with fresh seafood, it gives you a totally different taste from the usual style you may have tried.
Okayama’s famous yakisoba dish.
Hiruzen Yakisoba (Hiruzen Stir-fried Noodles)
For the noodle lovers, a must-try dish is the Okayama Hiruzen Yakisoba, which is found in the northern part of this prefecture. The difference between the general Yakisoba and the Hiruzen is that they use free range Okayama chicken meat, mixed with the local sweet and spicy miso. This dish can be can be found at selected restaurants around Okayama.
Sawara (Spanish Mackerel)
The Japanese Spanish Mackerel is called Sawara in Okayama, and it is probably the most famous fish in this part of Japan. They catch one of the best quality mackerel in all Japan, where the fish meat is a lighter flavor and much more sweeter than the common mackerels.
Sawara is commonly found at most places serving sashimi, sushi or even shabu-shabu or Japanese hot pot. You can always ask the restaurant staff in Okayama if they are serving this fish.
Horumon Dishes (Internal organ meats)
First of all, what is Horumon? It is the Japanese word for beef giblets or also known as internal organ meats. So, only if you are a fan of Horumon, then this would highly interest you as there are many speciality places where you can savor this.
Many locals swear that the Horumon is healthier than regular beef cuts due to the meat and innards having more nutrients and are way much lower in calories. Among the most popular dishes that use Horumon are the Udon, and here in Okayama, they have various places that serve this and you simply need to ask the restaurant about the Horumon.
Steamed octopus over rice, a highly popular dish in Okayama.
Takomeshi (Octopus with Rice)
We are most familiar with Japanese rice that is mixed with pork cutlets, fried chicken, grilled beef and so on, but here in Okayama, you should try the Takomeshi, which is actually rice with octopus. With the octopus being freshly caught in the Mizushima-nada Sea in the south, they are extremely tender and make the experience of Takomeshi an unforgettable one.
The best place to experience this dish is at the port city of Okayama known as Kurashiki City, where some restaurants specialize in this dish.
What a Demikatsudon looks like with the demi-glace sauce.
The famous pork cutlet on rice is most likely tried by many people, and when in Japan this is one of the not-to-miss dishes. But over in Okayama, they have the Demikatsudon, which is native and unique to this part of Japan.
The Okayama Demikatsudon is made slightly different from the regular ones, and is cooked with a special demi-glace sauce. The pork cutlet is then served on a top of a bowl of rice, littered with finely chopped raw cabbage. You can find this dish around Okayama city from various Japanese restaurants.
Chocolate Kibi Dango is one of the popular souvenirs. Photo All About Japan.
Kibi Dango (Dessert)
A local stick dumpling rice called Kibi Dango is another popular food from Okayama, and is also featured in the Momotaro folktale. This is the most famous folklore story that dates back to the Edo period, and Momotaro is known as Peach Boy.
Momotaro are glutinous rice cakes that have a fluffy and chewy texture that comes in a wide variety of flavors of Japan. Yes, the Okayama white peach, matcha and chocolate flavors are probably the most popular ones here, and you can buy them from various confectionery shops around Okayama, and also at shops in the Okayama Station. These make excellent food souvenirs for family and friends back home.
The popular Omotecho Street for food and shopping in Okayama. Photo Wikipedia.
Foodie or Traveler?
There is no doubt that everyone loves food and travel, hence I hope the list above will provide you with a unique gastronomical experience if you are planning to visit the Okayama Prefecture. Why be normal when you can just take a day trip to somewhere different and post photos other than the usual Osaka Castle, Dotonbori and Kyoto?