Aso's Local Cuisine: Dishes, Restaurants & Recipes

Aso's Local Cuisine: Dishes, Restaurants & Recipes

Aso's Local Cuisine: Dishes, Restaurants & Recipes

Introduction to Aso

Aso, located in Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan, is famous for its breathtaking landscapes, including the magnificent volcanic caldera of Mount Aso. Beyond its natural wonders, Aso also boasts a vibrant culinary scene that showcases the best of local ingredients and traditional Japanese flavors. In this guide, we will take you on a gastronomic journey through Aso's local cuisine, highlighting some of the must-try dishes, top restaurants, and even providing you with a few authentic recipes to recreate the flavors of Aso at home.

Must-Try Dishes

Aso's cuisine is deeply rooted in the agricultural traditions of the region, utilizing fresh, seasonal ingredients to create dishes bursting with flavor. Here are a few must-try dishes in Aso:

  • Takana Meshi: Aso is famous for its takana, a type of leafy vegetable, often pickled or used in stir-fries. Takana meshi is a simple yet satisfying dish that combines steamed rice with sautéed takana, creating a flavorful and nutritious meal.
  • Basashi: Basashi, or horse sashimi, is a delicacy in Aso. Thinly sliced raw horse meat is served with soy sauce and grated ginger, creating a unique and tender culinary experience.
  • Akaushi Beef: Akaushi beef, also known as the Japanese Red, is renowned for its exceptional marbling and rich flavor. Aso is home to many ranches that raise Akaushi cattle, and you can enjoy this delicious beef in various forms, from sizzling teppanyaki to savory sukiyaki.
  • Yamakawa Soba: Soba, or buckwheat noodles, are a beloved staple in Aso. Yamakawa soba, made from locally grown buckwheat, is characterized by its earthy flavor and firm texture. Served hot or cold, it pairs perfectly with a variety of dipping sauces.
  • Meat Stew: Aso's cool climate makes it the perfect place to warm up with a hearty meat stew. Made with locally sourced vegetables and tender cuts of meat, this dish is sure to satisfy your cravings on a chilly day.

Top Restaurants in Aso

When it comes to experiencing the diverse flavors of Aso, these top restaurants should be on your culinary itinerary:

  1. Restaurant Asoya: Located in the heart of Aso, this restaurant specializes in traditional Aso cuisine, including takana meshi and basashi. The cozy atmosphere and friendly staff make it a must-visit for food enthusiasts.
  2. Hinokuniya: Known for its exceptional Akaushi beef dishes, Hinokuniya offers a unique dining experience with a choice of teppanyaki or sukiyaki style cooking. Don't miss their melt-in-your-mouth Akaushi beef steak.
  3. Soba Dokoro Kanemitsu: This rustic soba restaurant is tucked away in the countryside, offering an authentic taste of Yamakawa soba. The noodles are made in-house using traditional techniques, ensuring a memorable dining experience.
  4. Aso Meat Stew House: As the name suggests, this restaurant is a paradise for meat lovers. Indulge in their flavorful meat stew, made with locally sourced ingredients, and savor the comforting flavors of Aso.

Authentic Recipes from Aso

For those who want to recreate the tastes of Aso at home, here are a couple of authentic recipes:

Takana Meshi


  • 2 cups steamed Japanese rice
  • 1 cup chopped takana
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds


  1. Heat the sesame oil in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped takana and sauté for 2-3 minutes until wilted.
  3. Add the steamed rice and soy sauce to the pan, mix well, and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top for added flavor and serve hot.

Yamakawa Soba with Dipping Sauce


  • 200g Yamakawa soba noodles
  • 3 cups dashi (Japanese soup stock)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 1 tablespoon grated daikon radish
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • Nori (seaweed), sliced, for garnish


  1. Cook the Yamakawa soba noodles according to the package instructions, then drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. In a saucepan, bring the dashi, soy sauce, and mirin to a simmer.
  3. Divide the dipping sauce into individual bowls.
  4. Serve the cooked soba noodles alongside the dipping sauce, and garnish with grated daikon radish, chopped green onion, and sliced nori.

Map of Aso