Event Report: Organic Megumi Natto Release Party at Ozumo in SF

May 26, 2022

Have you ever had “NATTO” before?  Fermented soy beans from Japan?

Do you like it?

For many non-Japanese, its stickiness and pungent aroma (some call it offensive) are a bit too much.  Actually many Japanese from Western Japan do not care for it either.

Recently, I was invited to the Organic Megumi Natto Release Party at Ozumo in San Francisco.  There were many professionals from the food industry, as well as media, young and old, Japanese and non-Japanese, gathered to  Sample this strange substance from Japan in the right hand, with sake in the other.

MegumiNatto 040.jpg

To my surprise, this natto didn’t smell much, and is a lot tastier than what I am used to, especially here in the US.  And my pure American bred guinea pig who normally hates natto even gave it a thumb’s up!  Yay!  Originally, he was quite resistant about going to a “Natto Event”, but I told him that it’s at Ozumo, there will be free food and sake (getting easier to convince him), and if he doesn’t like it, we can order something else.  At that point, he was sold.  I could have gone by myself, but I really wanted him to try really good natto, and change his perspective about our beloved (?), stinky and sticky staple of Japan.  Look how happy he looks!  (Yes, you should ALWAYS trust me!)

MegumiNatto 035.jpg

So what’s different about this not-so-stinky natto?

Megumi natto is made in Sonoma County, Sebastopol, CA to be exact.  It’s never been frozen, unlike its cousins from Japan sold in the US.  There are two kinds — “Megumi Natto” (meaning blessed natto) and “Tezukuri Natto” (hand-made natto).   It’s hand made locally in small batches from high-quality no GMO soy beans with traditional methods.  You really can taste the beans — nutty, firm yet creamy, and it does have more delicate aroma, which to me, is appetizing.


So how do you eat Natto, and what are the benefits?  Watch the video.

Introduction to Natto Video (6 min) — 2 min out of this video is the same with below.

Short version (2 min)

They served four kinds of appetizers made of natto at the party:

  1. Natto Maki
  2. Age tofu
  3. Natto on tamago yaki
  4. Natto Donburi


This age-tofu with natto was great, especially when we were able to score those just out of the fryer.  The natto was actually hidden under the tofu, so it was great to start for (or fool) my guinea pig.


These look like upside version of age-tofu.  Actually this is natto on top of Tamago yaki, the sweet egg omelette you’d order at sushi restaurant.  I found the egg a bit sweet, therefore strange combination with natto (even though I love adding beaten raw egg to natto with rice).  This one was my least favorite.


These are what they called Natto Maki.  Traditionally natto maki is rolled sushi with natto inside, but this one is actually cucumber and asparagus roll with natto on top.  With the black of seaweed, yellow of natto, green of shiso leaf and red of umeboshi plum paste, they were very pretty to look at, and offered various taste and texture sensations.  Shiso leaves are often used in natto maki (with sushi rice) at Japanese restaurants, their refreshing aroma and taste help reduce distinctive smell and taste of natto.  When natto is mixed into miso soup, it does the same thing.  Try it!


They named these Natto Donburi, meaning natto rice bowl.  Bowl…  hmmm…  To me, they look more like traditional natto maki.  The green color of wasabi on top was pretty, the chef was a bit too generous…  It was a bit overpowering to me.  To my personal taste, a bit of yuzu kosho would have been a nice addition for not only color but also aroma and more delicate kick.

And there were a few tubs of natto floating around, and people were having fun stiring and stretching this (not-so) stinky substance to several feet. (It stretches up to 4 feet.)


To my surprise, the founder of Megumi Natto, Mr. Minami Sato and I went to the same graduate school in Arizona, AND the same university back in Tokyo.   As he told me he went to Keio, I could totally see so-called “Keio Boy-ness” in his  presence and smile.  He totally reminds me of my friends, especially because I just saw many of them a month ago in Tokyo at our reunion!


This was a really fun party with lots of great people.  I wish they had a little more natto appetizers to sample.  Maybe they were so good, the guests ate a lot more than expected! Megumi Natto has a lot of potential in the US market, especially for Japanese food enthusiasts, especially if Japanese restaurants like Ozumo is willing to put fun and tasty natto appetizers on their menu — or even as Sakizuke (amuse bouche).

A few days ago, there was an article on Wall Street Journal on Organic Megumi Natto titled  “Tempting US Palates with Fermented Soy” last Friday.

Reading the comments, I’m convinced the biggest challenge Mr. Satoh is facing is the typical prejudice many Americans — those who were FORCED to eat natto when they were in Japan — have about natto.  I have to tell you, his natto is far superior to these natto from super markets you and I had, growing up in Japan. (Remember, I lived in Japan till I was 27, I had a lot of it.)  This is not your father’s Oldsmobile…  I mean, this is not the same with typical supermarket natto you’ve had in the past.  If you try it, you will agree. My American bled guinea pig agreed — you saw his happy face!  He even asked for more and was very disappointed when he found out they ran out. Probably because they were so good, the guests ate a lot more than expected!

Thank you Sato-san and Dallas-san from Japan Traditional Foods, and the staff at Ozumo for a great party!  And of course, thank you Nobuko for inviting me.

If you want to buy some, here is the list of stores you can buy Megumi Natto and Tezukuri Natto.

Later in the week, I found their Tezukuri Natto (I don’t know what the differences are between Megumi Natto and Tezukuri Natto except for the  packaging difference) at Mitsuwa Market Place in San Jose.  And yes, of course, yours truly, the leftover wizard needed to make something very different and fun with natto.

What is it?



Can you take a guess?  Leave yours in the comment box.  If you guess it right, I will treat you to one at our house!

I’ll reveal my secret on my next post.  : )

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