Kyushu might be smaller than Japan’s main island, Honshu, in terms of population and size – but it lacks for nothing.

Japan is the world’s hotspot in cuisine – and just like the country as a whole, each one of Kyushu’s seven prefectures boasts its own unique flavours.

Kyushu’s Wagyu

Most have probably heard the term “wagyu” used to describe beef. But while literally meaning “Japanese cow”, wagyu only refers to four specific breed of Japanese cattle. One of those is a specialty of the Kagoshima Prefecture in Kyushu, which produces nearly 20 percent of all Japanese beef, more than any other area of the country.

In Kagoshima, the Japanese black cattle enjoy a mild climate to create a product known for its tenderness and well-balanced marbling. This is especially noticeable when compared with wagyu from other areas that has much more marbling and which can be too much for some tastes.

The red cattle breed of Kumamoto produce a slightly different type of wagyu. The very tender, buttery texture offers something for those who enjoy a bit more marbling. These are the only free-grazing cattle in the whole of Japan but have to play second fiddle to Kumamoto’s better known specialty – basashi.

Miyazaki Prefecture is also known for the quality of its cattle but you can’t discuss Kyushu’s food and not look at Saga in Kyushu’s northeast. Here, cattle breeders are said to have perfected a special rearing system which means calves suffer no stress to produce beef on a par with Kobe and Matsusaka as among the country’s very best.

Chicken Nanban

Miyazaki’s famous chicken nanban is the area’s signature dish. Many may have already know chicken karaage – but not like this. The Miyazaki specialty takes the popular karaage dish and soaks it in sweet and sour nanban sauce and served topped with an irresistible tartare sauce. It’s even more delicious than it sounds.

The name “nanban” hints at a Western European influence dating back to the visiting merchants and missionaries which Kyushu saw earlier and more often than the cities of Honshu during the Muromachi and Edo Periods.