Indulging in the crispy and succulent delights of karaage – Japan’s renowned fried chicken – is an experience that goes beyond mere culinary satisfaction. Nakatsu, a town located on southern Japan’s Kyushu Island, is the fried chicken capital of Japan. Nakatsu’s love affair with karaage is further affirmed by its impressive achievements in the Karaage Grand Prix, where shops are evaluated by expert judges across various categories. With its rich heritage and meticulous preparation techniques, Nakatsu has cemented its status as a haven for karaage enthusiasts. Here are some of the must-visit karaage shops in Nakatsu, Japan.
With a legacy spanning five decades, this cheerful establishment in Japan stands out for its uncommon menu offerings. Alongside the popular boneless thighs, wings, and breasts, it serves inaka – meat sourced from mature chickens – imparting a slightly gamier texture and a deeper flavor. Also, the deep-fried cartilage introduces an uncommon yet delightful chewiness.
At Irotoridori, a well-balanced soy-based marinade takes center stage, enhanced by a hint of garlic, notes of ginger, and a touch of mystery fruit. The specialty here is the V-shaped wishbones. Wagyu beef and crispy beef croquettes are also available for additional indulgences.
Karaichi exemplifies the evolving nature of karaage in Japan. Catering to the demand for new flavors and toppings, Karaichi offers a range of innovative options. Their aromatic and spicy chicken is complemented by chili toppings and crispy fried garlic, adding a tantalizing twist.
After claiming the prestigious title of the first-ever Karaage Grand Prix Champion in Japan, Chef Moriyama continues to impress with his exceptional salt-based marinade. It includes vibrant ginger and savory garlic, infusing each chicken bite with a unique umami flavor profile.
Owner and Chef Ogawa Hiroki, a rare female presence in the karaage scene in Japan, meticulously breads and fries boneless neck and thigh pieces. The result is moist and crackly chicken thighs without excessive greasiness, while neck pieces provide a pleasant chewiness.