Japan is well-known for having many Michelin-starred restaurants with plenty of elegant places to choose from. However, did you know that Japan also produces top quality, non-flashy, simple, and cheap food that tastes Michelin-worthy? Well, they do and it is popularly known as “B-kyu Gourmet” or “B-Class Gourmet”. It is a combination of second-grade food (B-kyu) with an A-grade (gourmet) party in your mouth!
Although special occasions call for devouring fancy food along with the expensive price tag. Sometimes it’s nice to appreciate simple, cheap, delicious food with no frills. In most cases, these are the ones who willingly queue up in long lines for that perfect cheap bowl of ramen, udon, curry rice, yakisoba, okinomiyaki, donburi, and the like.
B-kyu foods can be found anywhere and has always existed all around Japan. They are commonly served in tiny restaurants and food stalls and is mostly appreciated by those who love good, cheap, honest food.
All it takes for people to notice a B-kyu gourmet restaurant is a good review. It can be quite alarming that it is possible for a once unnoticed small food store to suddenly have a long line of people eagerly awaiting to devour some cheap, delicious food. This has become quite a trend that many new food outlets want to be recognized for their own versions of B-kyu gourmets.
Restaurant owners want this kind of attention to gain more positive reviews and keep customers happy and satisfied so that they keep coming back. However, only a few of them actually become the B-kyu Gourmet sensation, as unfortunately most fizzle out, especially when new competitors sprout.
A B-kyu Gourmet Festival called “B1-Grand Prix” is held annually across Japan and is a two-day event attended by over 500,000 people who want to take part in voting for their favorite B-kyu foods. This event is a great opportunity for food-pilgrims all over the world and also provides the opportunity to boost the hosting town’s economy. The festival is normally held in Autumn, but be sure check out the site for the updated schedule here.
Due to the charm of local ingredients used in B-kyu gourmets, it has been attracting many people locally and internationally. It is said that its boom started when “Fujinomiya Yakisoba” from Shizuoka Prefecture brought home the golden award for the 1st and 2nd B-1 Grand Prix Competitions. The dish was simply made with noodles sprinkled with meat and fish powder but tasted especially delicious. This started the push for many local towns to promote their own B-kyu dishes.
Japan is famous for all kinds of food but not all of them can qualify as a B-kyu Legend. This may sound surprising to many tourists who may sometimes assume that Japanese people love to wait in long lines. However, to truly appreciate the essence of B-kyu food, in most cases, that long wait in line is very much worthwhile.