Eat up local B-grade gourmet! The B-1 GrandPrix

B-grade gourmet is the food that represents local areas all over Japan. They are not as fancy as A-grade food, but still very yummy!


Food & Drinks

What is B class gourmet?

B-grade gourmet is a Japanese term for ordinary, yet tasty, foods, such as Ramen noodles or curry and rice. They are not luxurious and are almost always reasonably price.
This "B-grade gourmet" is a newish term which originally came out from a magazine in 1985. These days, it is used as a way to help revitalize a town with particularly tasty meals.
The first B-1 GrandPrix was held in Hachinohe, Aomori in 2006. B-grade gourmet chefs from all over Japan came to participate in the competition. Since then, the GrandPrix is held once a year and the event has been growing very quickly.

But the purpose of the B-1 GrandPrix is not to just sell local food. The main purpose is to teach as many people as possible about the local specialties of their hometown, as well as all of Japan, to help them appreciate the uniqueness of cheap Japanese cuisine.

Champions of B-1 GrandPrix!

The judges of the B-1 GrandPrix are the customers. Customers vote with the chopsticks they've used, so they can vote for two food at once.

Let's check out successive champions as chosen by the customers!

Fujinomiya Yakisoba (Champion in 2006 and 2007)

Norio NAKAYAMA/Flickr

The Champion for 2 years in a row in 2006 and 2007 was Fujinomiya Yakisoba. Special features of this yakisoba are its ingredients. They use a meat residue after processing and cabbage. Also, it is common to add shavings of dried bonito on top just before eating for an extra flavor treat.

Shiro-koro pig innards (Champion in 2008)

Usually, pig innards are served flat after proccessing. They are also sometimes sold after being well boiled.
But pig innards sold in Atsugi, Kanagawa are all sold as is. They are sold rare, so they are very fresh, and are sold only on the day when the pig was killed.
The meaning of "Shiro-koro" comes from its appearance when they are barbecued. The skin outside will shrink and become like a ball. Shiro = white, Koro=rolling.

Yokote Yakisoba (Champion in 2009)

Hideyuki KAMON/Flickr
This yakisoba is one of the three greatest Yakisobas in Japan. They use special straight noodles and put a fried egg on top. This had been eaten only in a small area in Akita, but thanks to the B-1 GrandPrix, it became famous all over Japan.

Ko-fu Chicken innards stew (Champion in 2010)

This is called a "stew", but it is very different from the general innards stew eaten in Japan. This is more like "teriyaki" than "stew". It is cooked with sugar and soy sauce and served on top of rice in a bowl.

Hiruzen Yakisoba (Champion in 2011)

This Hiruzen Yakisoba is cooked with lamb barbecue sauce. Because of this, it looks just like ordinary yakisoba, but the taste is very different. This has been a home made recipe for over 50 years.

Hachinohe Senbei-jiru (Champion in 2012)

Senbei-jiru is a local specialty to the area around Hachinohe, Aomori where the B-1 GrandPrix was born. This is soy source flavord soup which has rice crackers inside.

This Senbei-jiru got a prize higher than 4th grade every year, but never got the first prize.
But, at last, they got a first prize in 2012!

Namie Yakisoba (Champion in 2013)

Very thick udon-like noodles and a thick sauce are the features of this Namie Yakisoba. Some people put chill pepper on top. Namie town is located very close to the Fukushima Daiichi power plant and everyone had to evacuate after 3-11. Even though many people got separated, they never gave up. They finally got the first prize in 2013!

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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