As a nation of die-hard foodies, Japan is always on the lookout for a memorable meal. We’re just a couple of months away from New Year’s, when Japan dines on some of its most opulent dishes of all as part of the multi-dish osechi meals that are traditionally eaten at the beginning of the year.
Recently, more and more families have begun purchasing their osechi rather than making their own, and we imagine quite a few have been tempted by the Mickey Mouse and Frozen versions we talked about last month. If you’re willing to hold off on satisfying your inner child for the sake of the world’s less fortunate actual kids, though, you might be interested in an osechi set that helps raise funds for charity group Table for Two.
Headquartered in Tokyo, the non-profit organization was founded in 2007 and his since served over 50 million meals to children in Africa and other developing regions. Table for Two’s most well-known initiative is a program involves restaurant customers ordering designated menu items for which a portion of the proceeds are donated to the organization, which then goes to funding its programs of supplying lunches in schools to needy, undernourished kids.
Table for Two put a slight spin on that idea by partnering with department stores Daimaru and Matsuzakaya to develop the Regional Foods of Japan and Table for Two Osechi Set. As with its restaurant partnerships, for each set purchased, one percent of the sale will be donated to Table for Two.
While the focus of the humanitarian effort is global, the dishes and ingredients are all domestic, with unique local delicacies from across Japan.
Starting from the north, the set has hizunamasu, a dish from Hokkaido containing salmon cartilage and daikon radish. Tohoku contributes ichigoni, made with abalone and sea urchin, and central Chubu is the source of hazenokanroni, or candied gobi.
Teriyaki yellowtail, a specialty of the Hokuriku region, is one of the less challenging items in the set, which also includes Kyoto-style imobou (potato and cod), and Western Japan’s blowfish skin seasoned with ponzu citrus sauce. The island of Shikoku is known for its bonito, which is cubed and stewed for the osechi bundle, and Kyushu is represented by its own potato dish, imokinton.
Customers can preorder the charitable meals starting October 1 at Daimaru or Matsuzakaya locations, or at their shared online shop. As with most osechi sets, the luxurious lineup doesn’t come cheap, costing 27,000 yen (US$252) for enough to feed four people. Still, it’s a little easier to justify opening your wallet and splurging on a meal when doing so helps hungry children have one too.