During the Showa Period in Fukuoka, Japan, there was a certain large restaurant enterprise that was very exclusive where it was impossible for regular customers to enter. The mentaiko that was used in this restaurant was home-made and the head chef was very proud of it.
On the day the head chef would make his mentaiko, he would marinate the mentaiko in his particular spicy sauce that was soy-based. Consequently, the umami components of the ingredients would intermingle in a complex way, resulting in a taste that would be slightly different every time the marinating process was completed. Furthermore, with exquisite timing the head chef would delicately wrap the mentaiko with umami-infused marinated kelp. The ultimate taste of this kelp-wrapped mentaiko that was laboriously made using only the highest quality ingredients showed the spirit of craftsmanship the head chef put into it.
The reputation of the head chef’s mentaiko was so good, it was regarded as delicious whether it was eaten raw, roasted, with tea and rice, or with just a plain rice ball. However, the head chef was never satisfied with the current situation, so he would offer other delicious dishes that had never been seen before, and everyone would always enjoy them.
During this time, a topping sauce for mentaiko was developed. Using his reliable soy-based sauce as a base, through trial and error the chef repeatedly tried mixing various ingredients and spices. After years of difficulty, a “special topping sauce” that could bring out the maximum richness of umami taste from mentaiko was finally created.
Afterwards, the head chef conceived of placing his mentaiko on top of a bed of rice, similar to the popular eel over rice dish in Japan, and topping it with his “special topping sauce.” This was how “Mentaiju” was introduced to the world. This delicious and limited dish quickly became very popular, and customers wanted to eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, between meals, or even as a late-night snack.
Since the old days in Fukuoka, there were many shops around the city that sold mentaiko as a “souvenir”, but there were no restaurants that offered it as a meal.
Since that head chef retired, his “Mentaiju” dished slipped away like a dream. Now it has been brought back to life, and its delicious taste can be experienced by everyone now and forever. “Ganso Hakata Mentaiju” is Japan’s first shop dedicated to offering the experience of enjoying Mentaiju.
To design a way to standardize the taste of mentaiko, various umami components like kelp and others were arranged together to reproduce that old-time sumptuous taste today. Also, that head chef’s legendary “Special Topping Sauce” has been revived as our “Mentaiju Special Sauce” thanks to long years of research and effort.
That old “Mentaiju” dish that was once popular back then has been reborn. Please come by and try that traditional taste today.