Like the Denver Broncos, the Nikkei stock index and “Gravity” director Alfonso Cuarón, Japanese food is on a hot streak. Here at home, the revival of interest in classic regional fare known as B-kyū gourmet (B-level cuisine) has spread to supermarket shelves and fast-food menus around the country. Overseas, everyone from the casual restaurant-goer to the head of the U.N.’s cultural agency has been lavishing unprecedented levels of attention and praise on washoku.
And yet, there is a disconnect between the everyday cuisine that’s enjoyed in Japan and the food that’s singled out for acclaim by most foreigners. Sure, ramen has become a mainstay dish of trendsters across the globe, but the cuisine that generates the greatest interest abroad — sushi, sushi rolls, kaiseki and the like — is not a typical part of the Japanese daily routine. It’s safe to say that even the most dedicated foodies living outside the country lack familiarity with down-home dishes such as yakisoba fried noodles, soup curry or tekka don (marinated tuna over rice).