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Tokyo: Is there any food you won’t eat in Japan?

by Mark Buckton

Maximilian von Reden
Hotel manager, 39 (German)
Nattō (fermented soybeans)! It’s awful — the smell, texture and, of course, the taste. When I first came here 20 years ago, I went through all the “test” foods we are subjected to, but whilst others are OK now, nattō is the one I’ve never gotten around to liking.

Kiyona Hisataka
Sales and event staff, 30 (Japanese)
Shiitake mushrooms. They are so shibui (astringent) that they both taste and feel bad in the mouth. I’ve hated them since I was a little girl. Also — and this is not exclusively Japanese, of course -tomatoes. I just don’t like the taste!

Ryan Nelson
Electrician, 27 (Australian)
The dry seaweed (nori). I tried it but I just don’t like it. It’s too salty. Admittedly, I did just eat it straight out of a packet, so I might try it again in a different way. Similarly, the “wet” seaweed in soup in the mornings (wakame) — I don’t like that either.

Hiromi Yamamura
Bakery staff, 28 (Japanese)
I don’t like karashi (a type of mustard). It’s just too strong. Also, Japanese green peppers; I hate them and have since I was a young girl. They taste so bad and I can even smell them on others if they’ve been eating them. That is so annoying!

Zslot Bekefy
Chief financial officer, 34 (Hungarian)
I usually don’t like seafood anyway, but if there is nothing else, some types of fish are OK. That makes life difficult in Japan, of course. One thing I won’t eat again, however, is octopus. When cooked, it is like rubber. Also, tofu is not so good.

Elizabeth Porter
Teacher, 31 (Australian)
The first is whole squid dressed in a type of vinaigrette. It was slimy and its eyeballs were attached. The other I tried in a pension in Nozawa (in Niigata), and that was a partially boiled egg. The yolk was boiled but the white wasn’t. I gagged!

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  • Otto Albrecht

    70 Centigrade, 10 minutes – Onsen-tamago

    • Charlie Sommers

      I have had onsen-tamago and would describe the white as soft and custard like but definitely cooked. The yolk however has the texture of an uncooked yolk and is delicious.