Natsumame in Kyoto Vows to Make You Love Natto

“I wish to eradicate the hate of natto beans,” says Naoko Natsumi, the proprietor of Natsumame, a restaurant in Kyoto’s Gion district. From appetizers to desserts, its 4,400 course meals are all made utilizing natto beans. Following its opening in 2020, the inventive dishes Natsumi invented have earned her an amazing popularity and Natsumame’s reservations rapidly began filling up.

Creating Extra Palatable Natto Dishes

In fact, Natsumi welcomes natto followers, however she opened the restaurant particularly for many who are distrustful of the gooey, sticky, pungent beans.

The Kyoto-native beforehand spent a interval in america as an change scholar. She shared the natto despatched from Japan along with her roommates and associates within the US, solely to see them rush to the toilet proper after tasting it. “I initially did not like natto too, so I may perceive their feeling,” she admits.

Traditionally, soybeans are fermented in a straw container to become natto.
Historically, soybeans are fermented in a straw container to develop into natto.

She saved questioning, nevertheless, easy methods to make natto extra palatable for them. Maybe mixing the fermented beans with one thing else?

Again in Japan, as a senior in faculty, Natsumi was decided to open a natto restaurant. She racked her mind for concepts on natto dishes and located that natto and minced meat was an amazing mixture. The invention led to the creation of one among Natsumame’s hottest most important dishes: Natto-han (natto rice).

Natsumi says about 70 p.c of individuals strolling on the streets in Gion, which is called a geisha district, had been overseas guests (earlier than the Covid-19 pandemic). “I actually wished them to casually drop by at my restaurant whereas they had been sightseeing and provides natto a attempt, no matter whether or not they prefer it or not,” she tells Tokyo Weekender.

try natto in Kyoto
The lantern says ‘Natto and Sake.’ The English signal is impressed by Britain’s well-known ‘Maintain Calm and Carry On’ poster.

Serving to That First Chew Style the Greatest

Individuals unfamiliar with natto usually complain concerning the stringy look, the distinctive odor and the gooey texture. Natsumi has chosen natto beans and created her unique recipes to eradicate these obstacles. She says natto beans offered at your on a regular basis grocery store are sometimes produced from imported soybeans and have a stronger odor. Natto lovers like these regardless, however they is likely to be an excessive amount of for these attempting natto for the primary time.

“The beans we use are fully completely different,” Natsumi explains. “Our beans are extra puffed and a few individuals are stunned.’”

Natsumame primarily makes use of two sorts of natto beans. The small beans kind from Hokkaido and the massive ones from Kyoto’s Keihoku district, one among natto’s supposed birthplaces.

The small beans are very mushy and develop into like paste as they’re combined, to allow them to be harmoniously blended with different substances. Natsumame’s potato salad utilizing these beans is rather like easy mashed potatoes, and natto’s distinctive texture and taste are hardly felt.

Natto-han is without doubt one of the hottest dishes at Natsumame, together with Neba-bonara.

The larger ones are creamy and Natsumi recommends utilizing them with recent cream. She makes use of them in her model of carbonara, one other standard merchandise. The dish is known as “Neba-bonara” from the Japanese phrase neba-neba which means gooey or stringy. Surprisingly, cheese will not be used within the dish, however the natto’s creaminess and stringiness completely play the position of the melty cheese.

If the sticky beans are nonetheless off-putting, Natsumi recommends her natto ice cream, which comes on the finish of the course. The natto beans inside it are frozen in order that they don’t have any odor and so they resemble nuts. The natto ice cream is as stretchy because the Turkish ice cream, dondurma.

Lastly, there’s a particular “coaching” methodology that Natsumi, as a previous natto hater, recommends. Take it one bean at a time. When she was a toddler, her mom instructed her to eat natto due to its well being advantages. She started by placing a single natto bean on high of her daughter’s rice. She positioned two the subsequent day and three on the third day. Natsumi was sad about it and buried the beans deep within the rice earlier than swallowing. However about six months later, someway the beans grew to become tasty and she or he began asking for extra.

Natto is a Funds Superfood

In fact, you do not have to eat natto, however Natsumi’s mom was proper concerning the well being advantages. As a pure probiotic meals wealthy in protein and nutritional vitamins, it is stated to advertise intestine well being, enhance blood circulation, strengthen the immune system and assist gradual pores and skin getting old. Rumor has it that one pack of natto a day retains dying away and a 2020 examine printed in a British medical journal backs this up.

Regardless of the extraordinarily excessive dietary worth, natto is extremely low-cost. A set of three packs is about 100 at grocery or comfort shops.

So, you actually don’t have anything to lose if you happen to simply give it a attempt. Actually, you will make this Kyoto chef extremely completely satisfied.