Kumamoto is known for horsemeat and it is a regional specialty they are quite proud of. It is served raw on a plate, with a side of soy sauce and ginger paste, sometimes garlic paste. Shaved white onion adds to the flavor. The meat is cut in a certain fashion to avoid the chewiness of typical raw meat.
When you eat basashi, you will probably find it indistinguishable from raw beef. It should be served at room temperature and can be purchased at almost any grocery store though there are specialty stores. Look for horsehead placards outside to spot them.
Although ramen noodles are common all through Japan, each region has its own style and Kumamoto is no exception. You can get any style, but the one we had had a white soup that seemed less salty than most and had a fresher, almost creamier taste. We got it in a typical neighborhood noodle shop.
So for the first time back in 1992 I had a chance to eat Sakura niku (raw horse meat).
I found out what it was after I had already eaten it. Well, it's not that bad. Kumamoto is apparently famous for it's raw horse meat.
It also goes by the name Basashi. Or if you can't remember that try saying Nama no Uma no niku (literally raw horse meat).
Many Japanese people have never eaten it.
The last time I went to Kumamoto in 1999, I decided to try it again. I found a restaurant located close to Kumamoto castle that was serving it.
It's an experience. Well, for those of you who
are shocked... remember Americans sometimes used to eat horse. Where do you think the expression came from 'I'm so hungry I could eat a horse'. In this case I was hungry so I ate some horse.
So how does it taste?
Well, it was raw so imagine that if you can.
You dip it in soysauce and then chew and chew and chew. For those of you who know,
it's like chewing octopus.
Yum... actually it doesn't taste that good. I'm not a big fan of raw meat. Raw fish OK. I think I'll pass if I'm ever given the chance to eat steak tartar.
Japanese language is one of the most complicated! Three types of characters. Anyway, here's some useful phrases to keep in mind in case you need help.
IN AN EMERGENCY:Help! Tas'kete!
Call the police Keisatsu o yonde kudasai!
Thank you Arigato gozaimasu
Excuse Me Sumimasen
I don't understand Wakarimasen
Do you speak English? Eigo o hanashimasuka?
How are you? Ogenki desu ka ?
Good morning Ohayo gozaimasu
Good afternoon Konnichiwa
Good evening Konbanwa
Good night Oyasumi nasai
Good bye Sayonara