Are you a fan of popular Japanese food like ramen, yakisoba, and gyoza? These hearty dishes are widely available in Japan and are enjoyed by everyone from locals to tourists. This group of Japanese food is called B-kyu gourmet, also known as B-grade, B-class gourmet or simply B gourmet.
What is B-Grade Gourmet?
B-grade gourmet refers to a variety of Japanese comfort food usually found in casual restaurants or sold as street food. The term grew in popularity in the 1980s to celebrate delicious Japanese dishes made using common and economical ingredients. Popular B-grade gourmet food includes noodles like ramen, udon, and yakisoba; rice dishes like curry rice and rice bowls topped with meats likekatsu (fried pork cutlet); and takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and gyoza.
Unlike high-end or A-grade Japanese cuisine like kaiseki and omakase, the multi-course traditional fine dining, or teppanyaki with premium meats like wagyu beef, B-grade gourmet food are wallet-friendly and can be enjoyed conveniently by the masses. While B-grade gourmet food are cooked more quickly using less expensive ingredients, they are not just fast food with inferior quality or taste.
Famous B-grade gourmet outlets are often packed with eager foodies. They serve high quality Japanese classics that are created by passionate chefs, who are like shokunin: dedicated artisans who devote their time and efforts to perfecting their craft.
B-grade gourmet is very diverse and it includes fusion food like Japanese curry rice and omurice, which were introduced into the national diet during the Meiji period. Different regions in Japan customize their b-grade gourmet favorites with regional ingredients. Each prefecture is proud of their special B-grade dishes that are sold in local shops and also during festivals and events.
One major event is the annual B-1 Grand Prix that promotes Japan’s regional dishes and revitalizes local communities. The “B” means brand and the regions showcase their brand of local specialities and B-grade gourmet food is the star of this event. During the event, you can try a dazzling selection of regional food and vote for your favorite dish.
Are you feeling hungry yet? Here are some of the must-eat B-grade gourmet dishes for your next trip to Japan.
Ramen is the quintessential soul food of Japan. Different regions have their variations of ramen featuring specific types of broth, noodles, toppings and more. Tonkotsu ramen with its thick and savoury broth is the pride of the Kyushu Region while shoyu ramen with lighter soya sauce broth is commonly found in Tokyo. Hokkaido boasts two types of ramen: miso ramen with white or red broth originating from Sapporo and Hakodate’s shio (salt) ramen.
Tuck into a plate of stir fried noodles with vegetables, meat, and sometimes egg at any corner of Japan from streetside stalls to restaurants. This easy-to-make noodle dish is a staple that you can even cook it at home. Fujinomiya yakisoba from Shizuoka Prefecture is one of the most well-known yakisoba; a multi-time winner of the B-1 Grand Prize.
This famed pancake dish comes in different variations–the Osaka okonomiyaki is made from a thick batter of flour, cabbage, eggs, and meat or seafood while the Hiroshima okonomiyaki is assembled with layers of vegetables, meat, and noodles. This satisfying dish is always topped with a generous mixture of dried bonito flakes, seaweed, and mayonnaise and brown sauce. Okonomiyaki’s cousin, takoyaki, grilled balls stuffed with diced octopus is also a highly sought after B-grade snack.
B-grade gourmet is very diverse and it includes fusion food like Japanese curry rice and omurice, which were introduced into the national diet during the Meiji period. Japanese curry rice (kare raisu) is a filling dish of sweet curry customized to the Japanese’s palate and drizzled over rice with vegetables and meat like curry. A popular version of curry rice is served with breaded pork cutlet.
Motsunabe is an iconic B-grade gourmet dish that may not be known to most foreigners. Locals enjoy thishot pot dish bubbling with beef or pork’s internal organs and fresh vegetables. Part of the B-grade gourmet group, motsu or horumon are dishes that contain organ meat and giblets.
About the author
Wendy writes about her travel experiences to escape from her city life in Singapore. Her content creator’s journey started when she had the opportunity to live and teach in Okinawa and circumvent the world with Peace Boat. A compulsive-obsessive traveler and culture enthusiast, she believes that when we know more, we travel better. Or in true foodie spirit, when we eat more, we travel better.