Right up there with classics such as “can you use chopsticks?” every foreigner in Japan is repeatedly asked if they like natto —the sticky, fermented soy bean with an aroma comparable in strength to strong, European cheeses. Some Japanese seem to think that only they can eat (enjoy) natto, and that foreigners cannot. Unfortunately, by the time foreigners have a chance to taste it, they’ve been brainwashed into avoiding it at all costs. What a shame. For the open-minded, Fukuoka is home to the one and only natto specialty restaurant in Japan, where over seventy dishes prepared with natto —including desserts —can be enjoyed. Some are Japanese, some Chinese and some are based on Italian dishes, including the popular Natto Carbonara and Crispy Natto Croquette. The natto is hardly noticeable in some and front-stage-and-center in others. Owner and chef Akagi Yousuke has personally tasted over 3,000 brands of natto and comes up with dozens of new dishes annually,. Many are truly brilliant, and creative (not to mention humorously-titled), validating his status as a nationally renowned expert on these healthy and tasty brown beans. The restaurant is spacious and reasonably-priced, making it ideal not only for memorable dates, but for groups and families too. Go! Go! Natto-ya!
Menu: Crispy Natto Croquette ¥609, Natto Carbonara ¥945, Natto & Kinoko Mushroom Salad ¥829, Tomato Natto Omelette ¥714, Natto-ya Fried Rice ¥714, Choco-Banana Natto Mousse ¥367, Kinamisu (kinako and natto tiramisu!) ¥367, Draft beer ¥500~
Originally published in Fukuoka Now Magazine (fn162, June 2012)