Know your natto?

I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it, but after years of doing business in Japan (and living in Tokyo on and off for 15 years) I just had my first full serving of Natto last Friday night. It's stinky, sticky, stringy, and at best an acquired taste. But that's just the gaijin perspective of a western barbarian. In Japan, Natto is very popular, wickedly nutritious and scientifically linked to various health benefits, which range from stronger bones to a healthier heart and immune system. Natto is prepared with Bacillus subtilis and boiled soybeans and is frequently eaten with Japanese short-grain rice topped with soy sauce, mustard or chopped chives. Natto is extremely rich in protein, vitamins and minerals. The fermentation process reduces antinutrients, boosts its beneficial plant compounds and helps your body absorb the nutrients that it contains. Read more about Natto here. Not many retailers outside of Japan have ventured into Natto yet, but would could be better than gambling on a product that is so good for consumers. Here are some great 豆知識 about Natto and manufacturing partners to get you started. The top 5 manufacturers in Japan are as follows:

  1. Takano Foods タカノフーズ(おかめ納豆 / 茨城県小美玉市)

  2. Mitsukan ミツカン(金のつぶ、くめ納豆 / 愛知県半田市)

  3. Azuman あづま食品(朝めし太郎納豆 / 栃木県宇都宮市)

  4. Yamada Foods ヤマダフーズ(おはよう納豆 / 秋田県仙北郡美郷町)

  5. Marukin Foods マルキン食品(元気納豆 / 熊本県熊本市)

Aside from the big 5 if you are looking for partners, perhaps consider these options as well.

  • Okuno Foods 奥野食品(東京納豆 / 三重県松阪市)

  • Oosato オーサト(中粒納豆本家/ 茨城県取手市)

  • Kikumizu 菊水食品(茨城県日立市)

  • Koisha Foods こいしや食品(平家納豆/ 栃木県宇都宮市)

  • Shikaya しか屋(鹿児島県鹿児島市)

  • Taishi Foods 太子食品工業(青森県三戸郡三戸町)

  • Tengu Natto 天狗納豆(茨城県水戸市)

  • Hoya Natto 保谷納豆(東京都西東京市)

  • Marumiya 丸美屋(お城納豆 / 熊本県玉名郡和水町)

In the US, these 3 are your best options.

  • Japan Traditional Foods Inc. (J.T.F.)

  • New York Natto

  • Rhapsody Natural Foods

What's your favorite way to eat Natto?

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