Enjoy seaweed and the culture of Edo on your table.
If you visit a soba shop, the first thing you might try is a light snack and a glass of sake. These brief pre-meal moments are a joyful piece of a culture that has been passed down since the Edo period. The most popular snacks areitawasa(processed fish with wasabi), rolled eggs, and roasted seaweed. To get the most out of the aroma and flavor of the seaweed, many restaurants use a special box called a Yaki Nori Box―a seaweed roasting furnace, which heats seaweed over a charcoal fire.
“We hope to bring the joy of freshly roasted seaweed to the home.”
Mr. Takahiro Yamamoto, senior managing director of Yamamoto Noriten, which boasts a long history as a seaweed specialty store, says that the “Yaki Nori Box” was created in 2019 for this purpose. The lid is made with paulownia, and is decorated with scenes from the famous woodblock-print series, “36 Views of Mount Fuji: Edo-Nihonbashi” by Katsushika Hokusai, while air holes in the sides are decorated with plum blossoms. The plum-blossom motif is connected to the company’s registered trademark, the Maru-ume (round plum). The symbol originates from the fact that when the company was founded, high-quality seaweed was harvested during the colder seasons when plum trees were in bloom, and represents the idea that seaweed, like plum blossoms, has a valued aroma.
Mr. Yamamoto says that using this product will instantly improve the fragrance and flavor of seaweed roasted within it. “It will gently melt in your mouth. I think you’ll love the flavor.” It is also well loved by customers, who say that it has given life to their nightly glass of sake.
Yamamoto Noriten has been in business for over 170 years. Looking over their long history, one can see that they never limited themselves to traditional methods, and have continued to work to create new ideas. Their second heir created flavored seaweed, their third standardized the size of the seaweed, and their fifth introduced the use of seaweed as a pairing dish for sake. They are currently at work to create new projects to create ever more flavorful, pleasing products.
“I would like to focus on so-called ‘chushoku’ (pre-prepared foods like carry-outs and convenience store lunch boxes), and directly provide customers with onigiri (rice balls), lunch boxes, and other dishes that make good use of seaweed.” Mr. Yamamoto says he would like to take the business down new roads, together with the rebuilding of their main headquarters next year. We look forward to whichever fragrant offering they will come up with next.
■Yamamoto Noriten – Official online shop:www.yamamoto-noriten.co.jp
Yaki Nori Box:www.yamamoto-noriten.co.jp/yakinoribako/