The taste test - Natto
WHAT IS IT? Fermented soya beans. It is most commonly eaten on top of rice for breakfast. They come in a small single serving polystyrene container with mustard and dashi which should be mixed with the beans and stirred till they go slightly less ‘stringy’. The Japan Centre has further recipe suggestions including the rather punchy sounding "Natto kimchi".
WHY IS IT QUESTIONABLE? Natto is routinely described as the "marmite of Japan". It is considered questionable on both the grounds of taste and texture (looks as well to be honest!). The taste is earthy and yeasty with definite similarities to marmite. It manages to have a slimy texture with a stringy quality; like leftover baked beans coated in chewing gum. This is topped by a punchy smell that lingers on your breath. It is lauded for its health benefits and, much like marmite, is either something you revile or can't do without.