Food & Drink January 29, 2015 8:28 pm

Natto Love: An Acquired Passion


Food & Drink January 29, 2015 8:28 pm

Natto Love: An Acquired Passion


Japan Dreaming

Natto Love: A Quick Rundown

Natto is likely one of the most feared and misunderstood things foreigners encounter in Japan. Anyone familiar with natto already knows this, but for those who are not acquainted, let me quickly sum natto up. Natto is fermented soybeans. Natto is stinky and most importantly, natto is slimy. Well, that should help the uninitiated grasp how this Japanese cuisine staple is so hated by foreigners; some Japanese also dislike it, but that is beside the point.
Photo by: whalt – Natto!
Full disclosure, I am a foreigner living in Japan who absolutely loves natto. I also know that natto is going to be a hard sell for people who grew up in the U.S. for example, since stinky and slimy are two adjectives Americans do not associate with food. I can only speculate that it’s possible other cultures are a little more forgiving about scent and texture regarding food, like the Thai who have durian and the French who have extremely potent aged cheese. Natto is actually quite close to an aged cheese or beer in concept; fermentation is the driver for flavor.

Natto Love: The Basic Benefits

Photo by: Robyn Lee – …natto…
Let me layout a couple positives about natto. Firstly, natto is healthy. The fermentation is a big part of the health benefits, but the bean factor is also huge. Natto is an excellent source of protein. If you are in Japan or plan to go there and you are not Japanese, then you can impress many Japanese if you really like natto. I know this might sound silly, but my personal experience backs this up; not scientific by any means. Every time I meet a new Japanese friend and they eventually find out how much I love natto, they seriously are impressed. I think a lot of Japanese are just used to foreigners hating on natto or they assume they will dislike it. Either way, I have enjoyed the surprised reactions all the same.
Photo by: Tamaki Sono – 090412
Natto is an acquired taste, again very similar to beer. Remember when you were a kid and your grandfather, uncle, or dad let you try beer for the first time? It’s safe to assume most kids were disgusted by beer upon first taste and puzzled at why it seemed to be so important for adults. In a way, this is natto. I did not like it at first, but over time it just somehow grew on me and became one of my favorite things.
Photo by: Chris Lewis – Natto roll
The best way to try natto for your first time is to eat natto rolls. Not rolls stuffed full, I am talking about the minimalist rolls where the natto filling is subtle. That is how I began. Eventually, if the rolls don’t disgust you, there is a good chance you will acquire a taste; just like you did for beer.

Natto Love: Where the Magic Happens

Photo by: yoppy –
せんだい屋の納豆あれこれ

If you happen to be in Tokyo or you plan on visiting, let me recommend a place that is all things natto. It is called Sendaiya and it is located near Ikejiri-Ohashi station on the Tōkyū Den-en-toshi Line. Map. Ikejiri-Ohashi is only one stop from Shibuya. Sendaiya has natto doughnuts. Everyone can enjoy Natto doughnuts, since they taste nothing like natto. Natto doughnuts are healthier and lighter than regular doughnuts. Sendaiya even has a vending machine out front, which means you could get natto doughnuts at 3am if you feel like it.
Photo by: Hirotomo Oi – natto vending machine


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Categorised in: , , ,

This post was written by Mathew Ryan

Natto Love: A Quick Rundown

Natto is likely one of the most feared and misunderstood things foreigners encounter in Japan. Anyone familiar with natto already knows this, but for those who are not acquainted, let me quickly sum natto up. Natto is fermented soybeans. Natto is stinky and most importantly, natto is slimy. Well, that should help the uninitiated grasp how this Japanese cuisine staple is so hated by foreigners; some Japanese also dislike it, but that is beside the point.
Photo by: whalt – Natto!
Full disclosure, I am a foreigner living in Japan who absolutely loves natto. I also know that natto is going to be a hard sell for people who grew up in the U.S. for example, since stinky and slimy are two adjectives Americans do not associate with food. I can only speculate that it’s possible other cultures are a little more forgiving about scent and texture regarding food, like the Thai who have durian and the French who have extremely potent aged cheese. Natto is actually quite close to an aged cheese or beer in concept; fermentation is the driver for flavor.

Natto Love: The Basic Benefits

Photo by: Robyn Lee – …natto…
Let me layout a couple positives about natto. Firstly, natto is healthy. The fermentation is a big part of the health benefits, but the bean factor is also huge. Natto is an excellent source of protein. If you are in Japan or plan to go there and you are not Japanese, then you can impress many Japanese if you really like natto. I know this might sound silly, but my personal experience backs this up; not scientific by any means. Every time I meet a new Japanese friend and they eventually find out how much I love natto, they seriously are impressed. I think a lot of Japanese are just used to foreigners hating on natto or they assume they will dislike it. Either way, I have enjoyed the surprised reactions all the same.
Photo by: Tamaki Sono – 090412
Natto is an acquired taste, again very similar to beer. Remember when you were a kid and your grandfather, uncle, or dad let you try beer for the first time? It’s safe to assume most kids were disgusted by beer upon first taste and puzzled at why it seemed to be so important for adults. In a way, this is natto. I did not like it at first, but over time it just somehow grew on me and became one of my favorite things.
Photo by: Chris Lewis – Natto roll
The best way to try natto for your first time is to eat natto rolls. Not rolls stuffed full, I am talking about the minimalist rolls where the natto filling is subtle. That is how I began. Eventually, if the rolls don’t disgust you, there is a good chance you will acquire a taste; just like you did for beer.

Natto Love: Where the Magic Happens

Photo by: yoppy –
せんだい屋の納豆あれこれ

If you happen to be in Tokyo or you plan on visiting, let me recommend a place that is all things natto. It is called Sendaiya and it is located near Ikejiri-Ohashi station on the Tōkyū Den-en-toshi Line. Map. Ikejiri-Ohashi is only one stop from Shibuya. Sendaiya has natto doughnuts. Everyone can enjoy Natto doughnuts, since they taste nothing like natto. Natto doughnuts are healthier and lighter than regular doughnuts. Sendaiya even has a vending machine out front, which means you could get natto doughnuts at 3am if you feel like it.
Photo by: Hirotomo Oi – natto vending machine


Tags: , ,

Categorised in: , , ,

This post was written by Mathew Ryan