all you can eat natto

Natto, also known as fermented soybeans, is a unique food hailing from Japan. The smell alone (often described as smelly feet or chemicals), not to mention the slug-like texture, are enough to turn even the most adventurous eaters away. But for some, natto is a delicious and healthy treat that is enjoyed daily.

A restaurant in the Setagaya ward of Tokyo is now offering patrons all the natto they can fit in their bellies for 780 yen (US $8.50). The all-you-can-eat natto lunch gives natto lovers a great deal on a delicious meal and natto haters a cheap way to challenge themselves to eat as much fermented soybean as they can before throwing up. Why would you want to do that? We don’t know, but now you can if you want to.

The restaurant is called Sendai-ya, and customers are able to choose from eight different types of natto. By choosing the all-you-can-eat lunch set, patrons can freely order every type of natto and eat as much as they like. It’s fermented soybean heaven!

Mr. Sato, our favorite extreme food eating writer, was drawn by the thought of all-you-can-eat slime and stink and made his way to Sendai-ya to see what all the fuss was about. Here are the highlights from his trip:

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- The place reeks of natto

The restaurant is a three-minute walk from Ikejiri-Ohashi Station on the Tokyu Den-en-toshi line. There’s a big blue sign with yellow writing that reads “Sendai-ya” out in front, so you can’t miss it. As soon as you enter the restaurant, the smell of natto hits you. If you love natto, your mouth will immediately start to water. If you don’t, well, you might want to take a big deep breath before stepping inside…

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- It only costs 100 yen (US $ 1.05) more to make your lunch set all-you-can-eat

Sendai-ya is most famous for its all-you-can-eat natto. The best part is that it’s so cheap! A regular natto lunch set (with one type of natto) costs 680 yen (US $7.37), but it’s only 100 yen more to upgrade your lunch set to all-you-can-eat. This gives you the opportunity to try all eight types of stinky soy beans! Here are your choices:

▼  Domestically produced small-grain natto

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▼  Domestically produced large-grain natto

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▼  Domestically produced chopped natto

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▼  Edamame natto

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▼  Sesame natto

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▼  Wakame seaweed natto

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▼  Hijiki seaweed natto

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▼  Millet natto

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- Domestically produced large-grain natto is the best! Don’t get anything else!

Mr. Sato had no idea where to start, because to him, all of the choices looked so good! After thinking about his options, Mr. Sato realized that for a natto lover like himself, there was only one possible choice: domestically produced large-grain natto. The sticky/smelly combination of large-grain natto has such a perfect balance of sweetness and umami that it’s all you need alongside a bottomless bowl of rice.

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Mr. Sato noted that he doesn’t have any problems with the other types of natto, but in his eyes, the large-grain type definitely beats the rest. At Sendai-ya, the large-grain natto was the only one that was tastier than what you can find in stores. The other varieties actually tasted pretty much the same. If you love natto, he suggests only ordering the large-grain kind (and lots of it).

Patrons of Sendai-ya should definitely take notice of the edamame natto, however; the taste of which our natto-loving writer describes as “interesting.” Since they used edamame soybeans instead of natto soybeans, the smelliness was quite mild when compared to that of normal natto. Therefore natto lovers may be disappointed with the edamame option.

At any rate, Mr. Sato thought that Sendai-ya was a wonderful restaurant where you can eat fermented soybeans to your heart’s content. If you love natto, this is the holy land and our man suggests you make a pilgrimage to these sacred grounds soon. “Surely, this is natto heaven!” gurgled Mr. Sato through a mouthful of stringy brown beans.

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Restaurant info:

Address: 東京都世田谷区池尻3-20-3 柳盛堂ビル 1F

Business hours: 11:00~20:00, Lunch 11:00~15:00

Closed: Wednesdays
[ Read in Japanese ]