B-kyu Gurume culture thrives in Western Japan. B-kyu Gurume are simple yet delicious, local dishes made locally with local produce. While the name suggests a second class, they are by no means less tasty. Not only locally, some B-kyu Gurume dishes have become popular throughout Japan, the popularity increasing with food festivals such as the B-1 Grand Prix.
What Makes B Kyu Gurume?
So what is B-Kyu Gurume? The word “gurume” comes from the katakana or the French word gourmet, meaning food. And the B implies the “rank”. B rank, meaning that it’s lower than what an A rank would be, but what does that mean? This means it’s not very expensive, nor is it made with fancy ingredients and arranged to perfection on the plate. Instead it’s more of a soul food, made with local produce, often becoming very popular in the local areas. People in Japan love to eat local dishes while traveling, and that’s one way of how B-Kyu dishes continue to grow in popularity throughout Japan. Some examples of popular B-Kyu Gurume are ramen, gyoza, gyu-don, yakitori, probably most of the Japanese food that you know and love! I’d like to introduce some B-Kyu Gurume dishes from Western Japan.
Popular B Kyu Gurume of Western Japan
Shiga’s Salad Pan
One of Shiga’s popular B-Kyu Gurume is the “Salad Bread” from Nagahama City, Shiga Prefecture. It’s sold at the long-established bakery Tsuruya Pan, established in 1951. The bread made every day contains “takuan”, which are daikon radish pickles, mixed with mayonnaise. What makes it addictive is the texture and the salty-sweetness perfection. Salad Pan sandwiches are so popular they are even available in supermarkets around Shiga Prefecture. Their sponge cake sandwiches are also really popular.
Osaka Hanshin’s Squid Roast
B-Kyu Gurume of Osaka might bring up images of takoyaki or okonomiyaki. These are very popular dishes that have become famous worldwide, and Osaka truly is home to some really delicious food! There’s a lot more to offer than the more famous dishes. One B-Kyu Gurume dish, a little less famous, in Osaka is the “Squid Pancake”, priced at 150 per piece. It’s located on the first basement floor of Hanshin Department Store’s Umeda main store, where you will always find lines of waiting customers on the weekends. This delicacy has an Osaka twist using pancake-like batter, compared with the squid roast popular throughout the country (which tends to be a squid roasted on a stick).
Wakayama’s Tenkake Ramen
While Wakayama Ramen is famous, many people argue that Green Corner’s Tenkake Ramen is the best! At only 350 yen a bowl, 405 yen for a large bowl, this delicious meal is easy on the wallet. The ramen is a soup topped with tenkasu (tempura batter), wakame seaweed, and red pickled ginger. The toppings include tenkasu, wakame seaweed, and red ginger. The crunchy tenkasu softens after it is soaked in the soup, for a comforting texture, filled with soupy goodness. Green Soft, the green tea ice cream from the same shop is also very famous!
Nara’s Kinshitsu Kitsune
Try this impressive Kinshitsu Kitsune (700 yen) at Mentoan in Nara City. Kinshitsu Kitsune is a large kinchaku (fried tofu bag) filled with udon noodles floating in a Kansai-style bonito and kelp broth. The kinchaku bag is made from a fried tofu bag similar to aburaage (pictured above). It has a slightly spongy texture and absorbs the soup’s flavour. It’s said the idea came from mochi kinchaku of oden, and the exciting sight of the udon noodles breaking out of the kinchaku is a flavoursome bursting surprise!
Fukuoka’s Mucchan Manju
Mucchan Manju is a snack a bit similar to Imagawa-yaki and Taiyaki, but with some very different variations. It’s a speciality of Fukuoka Prefecture, and so shaped like a “mutsugoro,” a fish found only in the Ariake Sea in Japan. Compared with Taiyaki, Mucchan Manju is wider in diameter, has a fluffier texture, and offers different fillings. Most Taiyaki fillings are sweet, the most popular being sweet red bean paste, chocolate and cream. Mucchan Manju, however, branches out a little more and savoury fillings like “ham and eggs” rank the highest. There’s a branch in the Hakata Bus Terminal which is very convenient for travellers.
The B Kyu Gurume of Western Australia
Perth, Western Australia has an abundance of seafood, and fish and chips are a popular B-Kyu Gurume-type dish. Other cheap, soul foods available all throughout the country would be meat pies filled with various different fillings, sausage rolls and other pastries and of course burgers with beetroot!
The Local Delicacies of B Kyu Gurume
There are a few things special about Japanese B-Kyu Gurume. The popularity, price, varieties available, and the differences depending on the region. Many people in Japan travel to certain locations to sample the local specialty dishes from far away. The food is a representation of the area, bringing the best of the local produce and the character of the place.
Compared with this, what most people would consider Australian B-Kyu Gurume to be are served throughout the country, with little stress on difference in variety depending on the location. There is no denying though that both countries offer genuinely delicious grub either as cheap as chips, or the more expensive, fancy dishes. You won’t be spoilt for choice in either country.