When in Shiga: 7 Local Delicacies to Eat Your Way Around Shiga, Home to Japan’s Largest Inland Lake

We visited this place in November 2019, prior to Covid-19. Do check for pandemic-related updates and precautions before making your visit.

Though overlooked by travellers in favour of her more famous neighbour, Kyoto, Shiga 滋賀県 also has her own undiscovered charms to offer. Aside from being home to Japan’s largest inland lake, Lake Biwa, Shiga also presents a bevy of culinary treasures, many of them exclusive to this humble and peaceful prefecture.

shiga-lake-biwa

If you’re taking a trip off the beaten track, here are some of Shiga’s local delicacies to feast on!

1. Biwa Fish 

Shiga prefecture’s strategic location around Lake Biwa means a treasure trove of fresh fish for seafood lovers. Grilled, preserved, or raw, the variety of local fish will certainly keep your inner Aquarius happy. Don’t forget to try the famous Biwa trout!

Read my review of Station Front Bar Okura.

station-front-bar-okura-shiga-skewered-fish-of-biwa

station-front-bar-okura-shiga-sake-sashimi

Where to eat it: Station Front Bar Okura 駅前酒場 御蔵
Address:
Google Maps
Nearest Train Station: Biwako-Hamaotsu Station
Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday: 5.30pm – 11pm
Closed on Sunday and Public Holidays   
Contact:+81 77 522 0022

2. Funazushi ふなずし

Love it or hate it, no trip to Shiga is complete without sampling the famous (or infamous, depending on your experience) funazushi ふなずし. Unapologetically pungent, this uncommon form of sushi is traditionally made with nigorobuna, a Japanese goldfish unique to Lake Biwa, that is pickled in salt and compressed with steamed rice to encourage fermentation. Definitely a challenging dish for the uninitiated, with many reviews comparing its strong taste and odour to blue cheese.

station-front-bar-okura-shiga-funazushi

Where to eat it: Station Front Bar Okura 駅前酒場 御蔵

3. Omi Beef 近江ビーフ

Another highlight of Shiga’s food culture hails from the land. Heralded as one of Japan’s top three wagyu, omi beef has a distinctly fatty texture that melts ever so delightfully in your mouth. Whether skewered in a bar or filleted beautifully in a high-end restaurant, this prized beef will leave you feeling absolutely satisfied and salivating long after you’ve popped the last bite of meat.

While there are a number of notable restaurants that specialise in omi beef around Shiga, my best experience savouring omi beef was in an unassuming izakaya named Okura. But if you want to experience omi beef with all the fancy trimmings, Specialties Omi Beef Restaurant Tiffany is a great option to sample different renditions of this delicious meat. It even has a retail store on the first level for you to shop from.

station-front-bar-okura-shiga-skewered-omi-beef

Specialties-Omi-Beef-Restaurant-Tiffany

Where to eat it: Station Front Bar Okura 駅前酒場 御蔵
Specialties Omi Beef Restaurant Tiffany
Address: 558 Takakaicho, Omihachiman, Shiga 523-0891
Google Maps
Nearest Train Station: Omihachiman Station
Opening Hours:
Wednesday to Monday: 11.30am – 3pm/ 5pm – 8.30pm
Closed on Tuesday 
Contact: +81 748 33 3055
Website

4. Yaki-Saba Somen 焼き鯖そうめん

Yaki-saba 焼き鯖, or grilled mackerel as it’s known to the non-Japanese speaking world, was born out of a heartwarming tradition. Back when women were married off to farmers far away from their hometown, families would send packages of grilled mackerel to their daughters.

This briny-tasting fish is eaten two ways in Shiga; one of them being yaki-saba somen, with cuts of yaki-saba served atop a bowl of thin noodles. The result is a comforting dish that fills your tummy and spirit with warm reminders of home. Its serving style is also pretty eye-catching!

Yakisaba somen is a local specialty of Nagahama, a city located north of Otsu. While there are two restaurants that are known to serve it in the old castle town, Yokarou seems to be the more popular choice, with snaking queues forming throughout the day. See if you can spot some famous personalities who dined there! Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and One Piece author Eiichiro Oda are among them.

Read my review here.

yokarou-nagahama-Saba-Kaido-with Yakisaba-Sushi

Where to eat it: Yokarou 翼果楼
Address: 7-8 Motohamacho, Nagahama, Shiga 526-0059
Google Maps
Nearest Train Station: Nagahama Station
Opening Hours: 10.30am – 5pm daily 
Contact: +81-749-63-3663
Website
Menu

5. Yaki-Saba Zushi 焼き鯖寿司

Alternatively, you can also enjoy the strong flavours of yaki-saba pressed onto sushi rice. Great for popping in your mouth for two or three bites, depending on how ravenous you are!

yokarou-nagahama-grilled-mackerel-sushi

Where to eat it: Yokarou 翼果楼

6. Kintsuba きんつば

Kintsuba is a simple, yet delicious snack made with sweet bean paste that is cut into thick square pieces, dipped in batter, and cooked on one side, before the process is repeated on all sides. Tt’s not exclusive to Shiga, but it’s an affordable and enjoyable snack you can enjoy between museum and temple hopping in Nagahama. Plus, it’s almost therapeutic to watch those little squares of deliciousness being assembled by hand before your eyes!

Grab your goodies from Imohei, a takeaway kiosk situated just a couple of steps from Kaiyodo Figure Museum Kurokabe.

kintsuba

imohei-nagahama

Where to eat it: Imohei 芋平長浜店
Address: 8-19 Motohamacho, Nagahama, Shiga 526-0059
Google Maps
Nearest Train Station: Nagahama Station
Opening Hours: 10am – 5.30pm daily 
Contact: +81 749 65 5546
Website

7. 300 Year-Old Soba そば at Honke Tsuruki Soba 本家 鶴㐂そば 

While soba is neither native or exclusive to Shiga, this 300-year old shop deserves a special mention on this list because… well, it’s three centuries old! Proof that authentic recipes and simple food can stand the test of time. You can even takeaway packets of soba noodles and sauce to re-create this time-honoured dish at home.

Read my review here. 

honke-tsuruki-soba-tempura-soba

Where to eat it: Honke Tsuruki Soba 本家 鶴㐂そば
Address:4-11-40 Sakamoto, Otsu City, Shiga
Google Maps
Nearest Train Station: Sakamoto-Hieizanguchi Station
Opening Hours: 10am – 5.30pm daily 
Contact:+81-77-578-0002
Website/ Facebook

chueonit. 

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