CultureExplore the World of “B-kyu Gotochi Gurume” in Japan

Simple, cheap, ordinary but true taste temptations in Japan such as ramen, okonomiyaki (Japanese-style pancakes), udon (noodles made from wheat flour), yakisoba (fried noodles), curry rice, hamburgers, and donburi (bowl of rice a variety of toppings) are called B-kyu gurume (B-class gourmet cuisine). B-kyu gurume dishes, well known to all the locals but not to most outsiders, are usually prepared using mainly local ingredients and are referred to as B-kyu gotochi gurume (B-class local gourmet dishes). B-kyu gotochi gurume embodies the charm of local ingredients and the local culture and has been attracting more and more attention these days.

B-1 Grand Prix

The “B-1 Grand Prix” is an annual B-kyu Gotochi Gurume Festival that began in 2006. Local members of the "Ai B League," (“We love B League”) compete against each other for the championship prize. Unlike other cooking contests, the aim of the B-1 Grand Prix is not only to find the best tastes but also recognition of the local areas of the participating groups. At the 5th Annual B-1 Grand Prix held in Atsugi City, Kanagawa Prefecture, in September 2010, there were 46 participating groups and 435,000 visitors enjoyed the various local dishes during the two-day festival.

The 2010 champion was "Kofu tori motsu-ni," chicken giblets in a thick sweet-salty glaze made with sugar and soy sauce. It has been pleasing the palates of customers at soba restaurants in Kofu City, Yamanashi Prefecture, for many years. The runner-up was "Hiruzen yakisoba" from Maniwa City, Okayama Prefecture. This yakisoba dish containing chicken is cooked with a jingisukan (mutton barbecue) sauce and a miso-based sauce. "Hachinohe senbei-jiru," a soup prepared with pieces of the specialty Nambu senbei (rice crackers) cooked in miso with plenty of local vegetables, came in third.

The 6th annual B-1 Grand Prix will be held in Himeji City, Hyogo Prefecture, on November 12 and 13, 2011.

Start of the Boom

The B-kyu gurume boom started when "Fujinomiya yakisoba" from Fujinomiya City, Shizuoka Prefecture, took the gold at the 1st and 2nd B-1 Grand Prix competitions. This dish includes original noodles sprinkled with small pieces of meat (degreased meat chips) and fish powder. More and more people have been coming to Fujinomiya just to eat this yakisoba.

B-kyu Gotochi Gurume in Eastern Japan

After the success of Fujinomiya yakisoba, many local groups have been promoting their local gourmet dishes, and so now there are many B-kyu gotochi gurume dishes to chose from.

Aomori Prefecture is famous for Hachinohe senbei-jiru and many other B-kyu dishes. "Aomori shoga-miso-oden" of Aomori City is a dish based on oden (fishcakes and vegetables stewed in a soy-flavored, dried bonito-based broth) with very unique ingredients, such as sea snails and daikakuten (a kind of deep-fried fishcakes), served with shoga (ginger)-flavored miso-based sauce. "Kuroishi yakisoba" from Kuroishi City is made using a unique style of pouring the soup over the yakisoba noodles. Towada City serves "bara-yaki.," in which sliced rib meat and onions are pre-marinated in a sweet soy-based sauce and grilled on an iron hotplate.

"Yokote yakisoba" from Yokote City, Akita Prefecture, is known for its unique combination of yakisoba with a sunny-side egg on top served with fukujinzuke (Japanese soy-based pickles) on the side. This was the gold prize winner at the 4th B-1 Grand Prix. With "Namie yakisoba" from Namie town, Fukushima Prefecture, and "Joshu Ota yakisoba" from Ota City, Gunma Prefecture, to name but a few, it is obvious yakisoba is a popular B-kyu gotochi gurume dish.

"Black yakisoba" from Itoigawa City, Niigata Prefecture, is a unique yakisoba made with squid ink.

The winner of the 3rd B-1 Grand Prix was "Atsugi sirokoro horumon" from Atsugi City, Kanagawa Prefecture. This is a delicious dish of grilled pork giblets served at various restaurants, each with a different and original dipping sauce.

Shizuoka Prefecture boasts a wide variety of B-kyu gotochi gurume. Fujinomiya yakisoba heads the list, followed by "Susono suigyoza" (boiled gyoza dumplings) from Susono City, "Mishima korokke" (croquette) from Mishima City, “tamago fuwafuwa" (fluffy egg) from Fukuroijuku in Fukuroi City, and many others, all of which are popular contestants in the B-1 Grand Prix. "Shizuoka oden" from Shizuoka City is oden dish with a local specialty, kuro hampen (black fishcake), topped with shredded dried fish and aonori (green seaweed). Hamamatsu City has "Hamamatsu gyoza" served with boiled beansprouts.

B-kyu Gotochi Gurume in Western Japan

Okayama Prefecture has many popular dishes including the B-1 Grand Prix high-ranking regular from Okayama City, "Tsuyama horumon udon," and last year’s runner-up "Hiruzen yakisoba." Hiroshima Prefecture, famous for okonomiyaki, also has "Hiroshima tsukemen," a noodle dish served with a spicy red soup on the side. Kokura in Kitakyusyu City, Fukuoka Prefecture, in Kyusyu is the home of "yaki-udon" (fried udon noodles).



This time we introduced mainly B-kyu gotochi gurume cooks that participated in the B-1 Grand Prix. There are many more B-kyu dishes all over Japan. Some may falsely claim to be B-kyu dishes by taking advantage of this boom to attract customers so you may want to do a little research on the Internet or other sources to make sure that you will be partaking of “authentic” B-class local gourmet cuisine. Enjoy B-kyu gotochi gurume fare and, at the same time, invigorate the local area!

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