FUKUSHIMA – A group from Aomori Prefecture won the ninth B-1 Grand Prix food contest in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, over the weekend, besting chefs from across the country who came to champion their regional “B-kyu (class)” cuisine.
The Towada Barayaki Seminar from the city of Towada took first prize Sunday for a grilled dish featuring flanks of beef with onions seasoned in a spicy sweet soy sauce.
The dish is believed to have originated in the 1950s, when the townspeople determined it was the best way to serve beef flanks, which they got on the cheap from the U.S. military base in nearby Misawa, the group said.
The group, better known as Barazemi, was established by volunteers in 2008 to promote Towada’s cuisine.
“Many of those who were forced to evacuate their homes following the 2011 nuclear crisis (at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant) and have since been taking refuge in makeshift facilities have come to taste (Towada Barayaki),” said member Hiroyuki Hatanaka, 51. “We hope that this will help us speed up the process of revitalizing the Tohoku region, including Fukushima.”
Students from the city’s Nishi High School also participated in the competition, helping to promote the city.
Second place went to Nekketsu Katsuura! Tantanmen Sendan, a group from Katsuura, Chiba Prefecture, that drew raves for its original “tantanmen,” a spicy ramen dish.
Third prize went to a group from Imabari, Ehime Prefecture, for “yakibuta tamago meshi” (roast pork with eggs on rice). The dish was reportedly initially served as a meal for employees at a Chinese restaurant in the city.
According to the B-1 festival’s organizers, about 453,000 people turned out for the two-day contest. Next year’s B-1 Grand Prix will be held in Towada.