2 days in Kumamoto from tomorrow, please help!
Could you please recommend some restaurants in Kumamoto? I'd like to try the famous horse meat (I've had only donkey meat before but only a bit as a part of salami), either raw or cooked. Other local foods are welcome too, I am willing to try anything at least once :-)
The one notable exception right now is a restaurant based around sweet potatoes as I've had more than my share of them in Kagoshima.
Oh, and I don't speak or read Japanese but I don't need any big conversations or knowing exactly what I'm eating. Pictures or very basic food English is fine. Thank you!
I have no expertise for that city at all, but I've looked to travel there a few times in the past and have identified these places of interest fishing around on Tabelog. You can cut and paste the phone numbers into English Google to see if there is English information on them...
Offal/ grilled stuff-
I went to the horse place above. It was actually very good. We had a steak menu and a sukiyaki menu and both were very pleasant. They spoke a little English and were able to show us what menus are with horse meat. They were not able to describe how to eat things or what they are made of, but it was OK. They are probably still laughing at how we ate the sukiyaki :-) We sat at the counter and watched the sashimi chef at work.
Horse meat basically tastes like beef, but is not so fatty as Kobe beef and the taste is not so strong. Basically I would equal it to the taste of high quality European beef. It soaked up the flavor of the sukiyaki broth very well. The fat that is sometimes around the meat can be quite tough. The sashimi I liked the best was the least fatty, it was perfectly juicy even without the fat and very tender.
We went to the Ramen place you suggested tonight. They didn't have any English menu and spoke some very basic English. They told us that they only have tonkotsu ramen, and we could choose between normal and spicy. Some people ordered different versions in Japanese, but I think we all got pretty much the same thing. It is literally a hole-in-the-wall, with counter seating, a bit shabby. Two young guys were serving the ramen by combining the broth from a really big pot and the on-order cooked noodles. I'm not sure if they were supposed to sprinkle the whole thing by some dried vegetables and spices (I would guess that some MSG was involved), but overall, the taste was very good. The pork was a bit too fat for my taste but it was cooked to perfection.
Kumamoto is well-known for heavy tonkotsu broth- usually sprinkled with dried garlic. I suggested this shop because of that. Doubt they sprinkled MSG as it is a naturally occuring element in dashi broth already and tonkotsu doesn't really need it anyway...The menu says they only have normal and spicy, but you can also order either version with extra chashu... The day after eating a bowl of this type of ramen, it's a good idea to do 100 push-ups, run 5km, and eat only leafy greens...