There are many cheap and local eats called "B-kyu gourmet" (B-grade dishes) in Japan besides the classic Japanese cuisine. Some of these cheap eats have been loved by locals for a long time, and have even been developed as a part of town revitalization. Here are the most popular 6 out of all the cheap eats in Kanto.
1. Tochigi: Utsunomiya Gyoza
Gyoza is a type of dumpling that consists of thin dough made from flour wrapped around a chopped filling of ground meat (often pork), and vegetables such as leek, Chinese cabbage, cabbage, and garlic. Typically it is pan-fried, however boiled and deep-fried gyoza are also popular. In Utsunomiya, famous as the city of gyoza, there are approximately 200 restaurants that serve gyoza including gyoza specialty restaurants. It is cheap and starts from about 200 JPY per person, and each restaurant has its unique gyoza that they take pride in, so it is fun to go restaurant-hopping in the city and compare the taste. If you do not know which one to go to, choose Utsunomiya Minmin first. It is a famous restaurant that has 7 branches within the city, but you should still expect to wait in line.
2. Tokyo: Monjayaki
"Monjayaki" is a dish made from flour loosely mixed with water, seasoned with Japanese Worcestershire-style sauce, and mixed with other ingredients such as cabbage, then grilled on an iron griddle. It simmers when grilled, and you carry it directly to your mouth from teppan using a spatula called "hagashi". Many are surprised and wonder what kind of cuisine it is when seeing it for the first time, but it tastes so good that it will get you hooked. If you want to eat monjayaki, visit Kondo Honten, the oldest monjayaki restaurant in Tsukishima, an area where approximately 60 monjayaki restaurants are located together. You can enjoy many kinds of toppings from standard to non-traditional ones.
3. Kanagawa: Atsugi Shirokoro Horumon
Horumon means beef or pork offal. At Atsugi Shirokoro Horumon, they use pork. It becomes soft and rounded when grilled, and is known for its fatty and juicy taste. They only use fresh tube-like offal, which are dipped in the special sauce which each restaurant prides itself on then grilled. The name "Atsugi Shirokoro Horumon" can only be used within the city of Atsugi. Restaurants located outside of Atsugi cannot serve horumon and call it "Atsugi Shirokoro Horumon" so be careful when choosing a restaurant. You can savor fresh horumon and its distinguished taste in more than 50 certified restaurants located in Atsugi! You can try it at one of the certified restaurants, Atsugi Shirokoro Hormone Yaki Chiyono.
4. Saitama: Gyoda Jelly Fry
Even though it is called "jelly fry," it has nothing to do with jelly as in sweets. This cheap eat loved in Gyoda is made with potatoes and okara (a pulp consisting of insoluble parts of the soybean which remains after pureed soybeans are filtered in the production of soy milk) as its main ingredients, shaped like an ellipse, deep-fried, and dipped in sauce. It is a snack loved locally and its chewy texture as well as the flavor of sauce are irresistible. It used to be called "zeni fry" (its shape looks like zeni, an old type of Japanese currency) and over a long period of time, the name has changed to jelly fry. The price varies from about 50 to 100 JPY per piece. The city is crowded with more than 50 shops including Gyoda Jelly Fry Hompo Takao located close to city hall.
5. Gunma: Yakimanju
"Yakimanju" is a manju (steamed bun) made from flour dough, steamed, put on skewers, and grilled with sweet and spicy sauce on both sides. It is said that yakimanju first appeared back in the 1800s and has been loved as one of the local dishes in Gunma ever since. You will be surprised by the size, but its taste and the bread-like texture will have you eating a skewer in seconds. The price varies from approximately 150 to 300 JPY per skewer. Available at Harashimaya Souhonke, a shop specializing in yakimanju that is so popular it closes when they sell all the yakimanju prepared for the day.
6. Chiba: White Gyoza
The name "white gyoza" originates from the fact that the founder learned how to make dumplings from a Chinese person named Pai (which means "white"). White gyoza is known for the original method to make them, by steaming then deep-frying with a great amount of oil. By deep-frying them, the outside of gyoza becomes crispy and when you eat it, its chewy dough will have you reaching for one after another. It is so popular that there are many customers who get 100 or 200 of them to go. There are many white gyoza fans outside of the prefecture as well and there is always a waiting line. You can eat gyoza for one person for 450 JPY (incl. tax) in White Gyoza Noda Honten.
Although they are cheap eats called B-grade dishes, they are known nationally. You should try them when you visit these areas!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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