Karaage, or a more complex variant of fried chicken, is one of Japan’s most popular dishes. But why is Nakatsu, a little town in Japan, if not the entire world, famous for making the best fried chicken?

A Chinese restaurant by the name of Rairaiken in Usa City, a community close to Nakatsu City, is where karaage first made an appearance. Deep-fried chicken karaage was first served at the restaurant as a set meal in the late 1950s. But it was the relocation to the nearby Nakatsu that made the fried chicken famous nationally and internationally. Two cooks began their own karaage business in Nakatsu. They added apple chunks and let the chicken soak in the salty water for a longer amount of time to improve the flavor. The stores quickly gained popularity and grew in number, confirming Nakatsu’s role as the creator of karaage. 50 restaurants participate in a healthy competition where chefs experimented with karaage’s ingredients and flavor.

In Japan, karaage is a symbol of creativity. And it is what makes the people of Nakatsu feel at home.