Namie evacuees bag food trophy

Kyodo

Fried noodles served up by nuclear evacuees of the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, won first prize in this year’s low-price popular food contest B-1 Grand Prix held in the city of Toyokawa, Aichi Prefecture, over the weekend.

The Namie team, whose members had to flee their town at the March 2011 start of the meltdown crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, served Namie “yakisoba” fried noodles in the contest, the eighth to be held so far.

It was the first time for Namie residents to win the competition, although the group has taken part in the event three times before.

The winner was chosen by votes from visitors who tasted the various local delicacies on offer Saturday and Sunday.

Second prize went to a group representing the city of Towada in Aomori Prefecture. The group, which served Towada “barayaki” — beef flanks grilled on a hot plate with onions seasoned with a spicy-sweet soy-based sauce — is comprised of volunteers and was established in 2008 to help revitalize the city.

Third prize, meanwhile, went to a group from the city of Katsuura in Chiba Prefecture that served “tan tan men” spicy Chinese-style boiled noodles.

“Mamebu-jiru” soup was a local specialty offered by people from Kuji, in Iwate Prefecture.

The offering enabled the city, badly damaged by the March 11, 201 tsunami, to place fifth.

Namie yakisoba owes its flavor to the thick pan-fried noodles resembling “udon,” a type of thick wheat noodle, served with pork and bean sprouts doused in Worcestershire sauce.

“Everyone, what happens to Fukushima is not always bad,” said Sadayuki Yashima, giving cheer to people in Fukushima, while the 45-year-old leader of the group from Namie received the chopstick-shaped trophy.

A record number of 64 groups participated in this year’s contest.