Spend a while in Japan, and at some point you’ll no doubt encounter natto, sticky, stinky fermented soybeans that often get served over rice for breakfast. This polarizing food has its superfans and impassioned detractors among Japanese and foreigners alike, but if you happen to be in the former camp, you should know there is an all-you-can-eat premium natto pop-up bar in Tokyo’s Ginza this weekend.
The bar is being run by Ibaraki Prefecture, one of Japan’s biggest natto producers, at its Ibaraki Marché restaurant, which features food from the region. From the 10th to the 12th, 710 yen (US$5.83) will get you unlimited trips to the natto bar, where three different high-end types of natto will be available each day.
Now, if you’ve ever bought natto before, you might be thinking this sounds a little pricey. After all, you can get a pack of good natto at the supermarket for about 55 yen. But the natto bar also has 12 different toppings you can choose from, including standards like sliced onion and shredded perilla leaves plus more unusual fare like lotus root dressing and honey. Plus, you get rice and miso soup with your order.
There is also a kind of non-sticky (ish) natto called Mamenoka that is currently enjoying a huge boom in France. According to organizers, it will be one of the featured types of natto during the event, but they aren’t saying on which day. You’ll just have to go and see! But it is available for sale at the neighboring store whether it is being served or not.
▼ Fancy not-so-sticky Mamenoka
For me personally, I’d rather pay 710 yen to keep from eating natto, but I know it is a healthy superfood and some people enjoy the taste and texture, so if that’s you, head over to Ginza this weekend and get your grub on!
Ibaraki March / 茨城マルシェ
Address: Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Ginza 1-2-1
Open 11 .am.-11 p.m.
Natto bar available until 5 p.m. only
▼Raw opposum shrimp preserved in soy
▼ Our Japanese reporter’s favorite toppings were diced tomatoes…
▼ … and raw onions and curry powder. Don’t expect any kisses after eating that, though!
▼ Garlic chive kimchi
▼ Honey is supposed to be a luxurious topping for natto.
▼ Many of the items served at the natto bar are also available for sale.
▼ Some natto-loving celebrities and Ibaraki’s Miss Natto were on hand to promote the event.
▼ “I can’t believe I am about to put something that smells like this into my mouth.”
[ Read in Japanese ]