BQpedia: Your guide to the underbelly of Japanese cuisine

B級グルメ (“B-Kyu Gurume”) may mean “B-Grade Gourmet” but the only thing “B-Grade” about this food category is the price, as most Japanese will swear by the “A-Grade” taste of these local favorites. Not to be confused as the equivalent of “fast food” in the West. Let WAttention walk you through this food culture with our definitive BQ Gourmet guide!

Today’s BQ menu: Yakisoba / ˌyäkēˈsōbə

What it is: Yakisoba is a simple dish of stir-fried wheat flour noodles that is a staple menu at any matsuri (festival). The usual ingredients are sliced pork belly, cabbage and other vegetables, with the key flavoring being a tangy sosu, or Japanese Worcestershire sauce – a thicker and sweeter version of its English counterpart.

A popular variety of yakisoba sosu, available at most supermarkets.

Where to find it: At matsuri (festivals) stalls, outdoor barbeques, old-style Chinese restaurants, and okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancake) eateries in the Kansai area (eg: Osaka).

Why people love it: The tart, smoky scent of sizzling sosu wafting in the air is enough to set Japanese stomachs rumbling. This nostalgic soul food reminds one of fond childhood memories – from festival fun to hometown memories of mom whipping up a quick batch in the kitchen. As a dish that’s hard to go wrong with, it’s also a favorite item for student fundraising stalls at school festivals!

Katsuobushi bonito flakes are a common topping.

Its various forms: Besides the standard sosu yakisoba, look out for this favorite in a variety of forms, such as the following: