An odd local specialty that’s surprised the nation. 

Wherever you travel in Japan, you’re bound to come across local specialties that are the pride of their respective regions. Hyogo’s Himeji City, for instance, is known for almond toast, while Okinawa is known for Spam onigiri. And over in Wakayama Prefecture, one of the country’s premier mikan (mandarin orange) producing regions, you’ll find a specialty called Mikan Gohan.

Or will you? That’s the question people are asking after this tweet showing the unusual dish came to light.

As the above photo shows, Mikan Gohan simply consists of rice cooked with peeled, whole mikans. It’s a bit of a mystery as to whether it’s a true local specialty, though, as it’s certainly not a common dish in the region, and according to Twitter user @zasan_zzr1400, who posted the tweet, the “shocking meal” was served to them when they ate at the home of an acquaintance.

After doing some research online, @zasan_zzr1400 found some sites that referred to Mikan Gohan as “Wakayama soul food“. However, a lot of people from Wakayama piped up to say they’d never seen nor heard of this dish before.

▼ This Twitter user says: “I’m from Wakayama, but…” with an image beneath that says, “I never knew about that.”

Other comments included:

“Wakayama born and bred here, but I’ve never eaten that. This is my first time hearing about such a thing!”
“I’m a citizen of Wakayama but I know absolutely nothing about this! And I don’t think I’d want to eat it either.”
“Mikan and rice are best enjoyed separately.”
“I was born in a mikan-producing region but I’ve never seen this in all my life!”
“I’ve heard about orange chicken, but not orange rice.”
“I saw a TV show where they cooked rice with Pom-brand mikan juice so maybe that has something to do with it?”

While cooking rice with mikan juice is not unheard of in Japan — some schools even serve it to students for lunch — placing whole mikans on rice is a whole other story.

▼ Rice cooked in mikan juice.

While mikan producers probably wouldn’t have any complaints about popularising the dish, with so many people surprised to hear about Mikan Gohan, it looks like the meal still has a long way to go before it can be branded as a local specialty or “soul food” of the region.

Though it may not be a famous regional soul food yet, the divisive dish has got people talking about mikans and viewing them in a whole new light, which is never a bad thing. And we have seen mikans pop up in unusual places before, like in the hot tubs of bathing capybaras, so who knows – maybe this dish will catch on and truly become a famous Wakayama specialty in future!

Source: Twitter/@zasan_zzr1400 via Hachima Kikou
Featured image: Twitter/@zasan_zzr1400
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