Although the possibility of UNESCO awarding a distinction to the Japanese cuisine kaiseki ryori (a traditional multicourse Japanese meal) as an intangible cultural asset may attract more tourists to learn more about Japanese gastronomy, the problem is not all tourists can afford the very expensive kaiseki ryori.
But, thanks to Japan’s “B gourmet,” more tourists are able to indulge on a gastronomic feast that offers authentic Japanese cuisine at an affordable price. Although B gourmet cuisine is not as lavish as A-class fine dining, this does not mean that B gourmet dishes are inferior.
The Japanese phrase “B gourmet” was coined in the 1980s after the American movie genre B movies—low-budgeted produced films in the US. This type of cuisine is also called B kyu or B class as it aims to provide the same gastronomic delight that A-class (fine dining) cuisine provides at a fairly reasonable price. In fact, the marketers and proprietors of B gourmet dishes use the catchphrase “A class taste at a B class price.”
Some of the most popular B-gourmet dishes in Japan include takoyaki, curry rice, katsu, udon, yakisoba, ramen, okonomiyaki, monjayaki, and rice bowl dishes filled with different toppings. Although some may think that all okonomiyaki, for example, is the same in all regions of Japan, the okonomiyaki in every region has a distinct flavor that reflects the character of each locality because of the locally available ingredients and seasonings used to cook the food. Besides the taste, the appearance of B gourmet restaurants as well as the personality of the proprietors has become one of the major selling points of the dishes.
The appeal of B gourmet to the public as well as to tourists of all classes is evident by the number of people that attend the annual B-1 Grand Prix. With the aim to revitalize provincial regions the event has drawn around 400,000 to 600,000 hungry people every year since it was first held in the Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture. This event only serves as a testament to the superior taste of B gourmet dishes in Japan.
B-1 Grand Prix Website*Japanese Only