Japan Eats: B-grade dining is tops in Tokyo
January 5th, 2012
10:30 AM ET
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Think back to your younger, broker (or possibly drunker) days, when you enjoyed home-cooked beans folded into instant mashed potatoes and eaten hot from the pan, or ice cream piled onto your favorite donuts. It's cheap, tasty and satisfying as all get-out, but most definitely not about to find itself on any Michelin or Zagat lists.

The term "B-grade food" sounds just plain weird, implying something less than great. Yet stroll into any Japanese bookstore and you’ll spot dozens of magazines and books emblazoned with the characters "B級グルメ" - "B-kyu gurume." So why is second-rate dining so hot right now?

The whole point of B-grade cuisine is that it's not the mainstream "quality" stuff that's simpered over on TV shows or put forward as an emblem of the "unique" Japanese food culture. Rather, it's food with its own identity, usually a regional one, or sometimes just something thrown together simply because it tastes good. It’s being different that matters here.

Best of all, there are dozens of restaurants all over in Tokyo where you can sample the best of B-grade from across Japan. Here's our pick of seven of the best.

Read - B-grade cuisine: Japan's bizarre food fad

See all our Japan Eats coverage and get more on CNNGo

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Filed under: Asian • Bite • Cuisines • Feature • Japan • Japan Eats • Japanese


soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Robert Townly

    Why can't CNN ask local Japanese about the food they eat? This is all from the "gaijin" perspective and NOT from a truly Japanese view.

    January 10, 2012 at 4:36 am |
  2. Iku

    I love B-grade dining. Actually, they are cheap, good taste and easy, not like "A-grade dining" in five star's restaurants.
    But, author, not "Bokkake omlet soba", correctly "Bukkake omlet ..."
    Anyway, I lived in Nagasaki, but never tried Turkish rice... maybe next time I go back to Japan. :D

    January 7, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • Samurai Shonan

      Japanese D grade food would be better than the unhealthy crap people around the world eat. That is why we are thin and trim here and not big fat bonbon eating slobs.

      January 9, 2012 at 1:13 am |
  3. JT

    When I see "B-Grade" I can't help but think of the letter grades they give restaurants upon inspection. If a restaurant does get a "B", you really don't want to go there. Not sure if they are even allowed to operate with a "C"...

    January 6, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  4. dagwood

    Puppy dogs' tails in the omelet? Nice

    January 6, 2012 at 5:08 am |
  5. Terry

    Nothing wrong with so called B grade food, but that stuff in the picture is like some of the grossly disappointing stuff I used to make up as a little kid when I was still under the impression that things that tasted good individually must necessarily taste even better when mixed.

    January 5, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
  6. Mmmmm

    How 'bout some moist manko?

    January 5, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  7. Jason K

    Look up Okonomiyaki basically translates as "what you like". Its grilled batter like a pancake with all kinds of random yummies thrown in. Nihon tabemono wa oishii desu! b(^_^)d

    January 5, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Riko

      I like Okonomiyaki. this is my favorite Japanese food. Im Japanese . Now I am in Carifornia as a international university student. I live with my hostfamily. 2 days ago I made Okonomiyaki. then my hostsister and I ate it. she likes it. Buy the way do you know Yakisoba? this is kind of noodles. If you like Okonomiyaki you will like Yakisoba too ;)

      January 6, 2012 at 2:14 am |
      • Samurai Shonan

        I love okinomiyaki too. Excellent food...so is monja yaki

        January 9, 2012 at 1:15 am |
    • Beefburger

      HA! Like carnival food here. Fried butter or fried Twinkies anyone?

      January 12, 2012 at 3:38 am |
  8. Daxo

    spaghetti with linguica (Portuguese sausage) and ketchup sauce...MMMM...MMMM...Good

    January 5, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  9. queenSupreme

    balogna and potato chip sandwiches. Tastes better than it sounds!

    January 5, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • KW

      I freakin love bologna and chip sandwiches. Sour cream and onion or ranch chips though.

      January 5, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
  10. Flora

    Similar to some thing I used to do as a kid – radishes in Coke. I don't know why, but I liked it.

    January 5, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  11. Captain Slapaho

    Lime Kool Aid with strips of bologna in it.

    January 5, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  12. Tony Baloney

    banana slices with sausage in ramen! Now that's good eats!

    January 5, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  13. Ann

    Wouldn't give those hard-boiled eggs a B. They're undercooked. Ugh.

    January 5, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • WRMartin

      That boiled egg is cooked perfectly. Let me guess, your version has a green ring around the outside edge of the yolk and the yolk has the consistency of powder. Please don't cook any eggs for me. Ever.

      January 5, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
      • Jason K

        Truth, the tamago is the best part of the gohan. Americans kill it. Its like ordering a steak well done...why bother, just chew some leather soaked in salt water...

        January 5, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Samurai Shonan

      That is the beauty of it. We eat them raw here all the time too.

      January 9, 2012 at 1:17 am |
  14. my johnson

    Schweaty ballz!

    January 5, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  15. *

    =

    January 5, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • JoeBeer

      ?

      January 5, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
      • *

        :)

        January 5, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  16. Drunken Santa

    A Culture Question: would this be the equivalent of an American ordering a Philly Steak from a footcart instead of a Fillet Minion from a steakhouse?

    January 5, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Jason K

      Sort of, but I've always felt that the best foods you can get are from the street vendors in ANY culture. That doesn't mean the healthiest though...

      January 5, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • teamom

      Do you mean a Filet Mignon? If so, please spell correctly. Otherwise, your posts are not taken seriously.

      January 8, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  17. JUDITH PICKNELLY

    sorry for any CAPS, not shouting, merely am site challenged.
    JUDITH PICKNELLY

    January 5, 2012 at 11:26 am |
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