Yamagata Food Guide

Yamagata Dashi
Yamagata Dashi, while at first may sound like a type of soup, is actually a series of finely chopped vegetables and condiments, seasoned with soy sauce and served on top of some steaming hot rice. Some restaurants will add Okra in it to give it gooiness, but it is mainly a dish reserved for the summer, from April to November at most. There is also a Dashi-soba variety, where they pour the Dashi on top of soba noodles rather than rice. Ingredients include eggplant, cucumber, okra, myoga, shiso leaves and summer vegetables.
Dongara Soup
Dongara-jiru is best for those cold winter nights in Yamagata, due to its heartiness and richness. Its made from codfish from the Sea of Japan, and not a single part of the fish is wasted in the broth of the soup. Miso paste is also included in the soup to make it thicker for the winter, and in Shonai, leeks are added to the soup to make it unique. What makes the soup taste so good is actually the fish’s intestines, which are full of fat and umami, making the broth rich with flavor. The best time to eat this dish is from January to February, when the fish are at their fattest.
Chilled Ramen
Hiyashi-Ramen, or Chilled Ramen, is a complex dish that has a lot of thought put into it. Traditionally, ramen is full of fat and depth of taste, served piping hot. However, Chilled ramen completely flips this tradition, and serves the ramen with ice, cooling it down. The ingredients and recipe is tweaked to make sure the oils don’t solidify, making the ramen fresh-tasting, but still keeping that depth of flavor. You can try this ramen where it was invented, 5 minutes away from Yamagata Station at Sakaeya-honten. Here, they use beef stock, shaved Katsuo, and Konbu seaweed as the base.

Photo Cred: Flickr user kawanet https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/176800662/
Sakura Cherries
Yamagata prefecture is the number one producer of Sakura Cherries. Producing over 70% of Japan’s cherries, Yamagata is known for its wide variety of “Sakuranbo”. From red American Cherries, to Sweet Satonishiki Cherries, to the less sour variety of Kokanishiki Cherries, Yamagata has it all. If you can get to the prefecture from mid-June to July, you should also try out cherry picking yourself, as the best-tasting cherries are always the freshest. But hurry, cherries are only in season during the summer, so get them quick! 

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