Casual gourmet, or also known as B-kyu gurume (B−級グルメ), is low price yet tasty and casual foods in Japan.
B-kyu means B-class, B-grade, or not the best, it also means low budget.With Japanese, the foods are usually traditional dish with original twists, they’re cheap because lots of them use locally produced ingredients. This casual gourmet is now big part of tourism industry as a large number of tourists are coming to Japan more and more, and as tourists, people don’t want delicacy but pricy dishes, that makes B-grade gourmet even more popular. There’re even biggest contest festival is called B-1 Grand Prix, which gathered over a half million visitors.
Also, since the ingredients are locally provided (due to the price), everyone also can eat fresh and safe food as well.
These B Class dishes are a big trend now in Japan. For a long time, there have been many local dishes all over Japan such as ramen noodle soup. From the basic soup a city, town or region will put its own spin on it, and it becomes the original or traditional version of the soup in that place. So, B-grade gourmet is not a specific dish in restaurant, it looks more like dishes in local area, every prefecture has their own B-grade gourmet!
I’d like to recommend you some typical casual gourmet in Japan according to area:
Japanese curry with sticky rice
Wide variety of vegetables such as onions, potatoes and carrots and meats, for example, beef, chicken, pork, are used to make Japanese curry. There’re also deep-fried cutlet pork (katsu) curry, or curry sauce pours over noodles. Japanese curry are much less spicy than Indian or Thai curry.
Ramen and gyoza
Originated from China, consists of Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a chicken – or fish-based broth, flavored with soy sauce or miso, and has sliced pork (charsew), dried seaweed, and green onions as toppings. Each region in Japan has its own version of ramen.
It’s a ball-shaped Japanese snack made of a wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a special takoyaki pan. It is typically filled with minced or diced octopus (tako), tempura scraps, pickled ginger, and green onions. Takoyaki’s toppings are takoyaki sauce (similar to Worcestershire sauce) and mayonnaise, then sprinkled with green laver and shavings of dried bonito.
Yakisoba is fried ramen noodles with bite-sized pork, vegetables (usually cabbage, onions or carrots) and flavored with yakisoba sauce, salt and pepper. It is served with many toppings of your choice, such as aonori (seaweed powder), beni shoga (shredded pickled ginger), katsuobushi (fish flakes), and mayonnaise.
It’s Japanese pancake containing a variety of ingredients, but the most famous okonomiyaki is located in (Kansai) Osaka and Hiroshima area. The ingredients include: shredded cabbage, green onion, meat (thin pork belly, octopus, squid, shrimp) sometimes mochi or cheese.
Hiroshima’s Hiroshima yaki
The same as Okonomiyaki but has noodles inside.
Special local treat of Nagoya, rice balls with shrimp tempura inside.
Sendai’s Gyutan, ox tongue dishes
Simply grilled beef tongue dish. This chewy taste is a perfect match with white rice.
Participate in B-1 Grand Prix to try everything!
Besides the list above, there’re many more dishes worth trying that you can find them anywhere in Japan. Interested in tasting as many local casual gourmet as you can? There is a festival called "B-1 Grand Prix Festival" held occasionally in places like Odaiba. For more information, refer to the official website.
I’m sure you will be able to clean your plate when tasted these dishes? That likely depends on how much you dig the whole B-grade concept as well as travel within Japan!