Natto, for those of you that haven’t been introduced to the smelly, sticky Japanese foodstuff, is fermented soy beans. And if you do know natto, you probably also know that Mito in Ibaraki Prefecture is the place to go for the good stuff. Well, recently a venerable Mito natto company started selling a rather surprising new item: natto cheesecake. That’s right, a cheesecake made from fermented soy beans.

I know what you are thinking. Sounds disgusting, right? Well, actually, we gave it a try and it’s surprisingly good. The cake has a rich, heavy flavor reminiscent of coffee.

The company responsible for this new cheesecake creation is Mito Natto Manufacturing Company. Established in 1929, the company has long been known as a maker of quality “classic” natto, but they have also been branching out into natto-related goods. They offer dried natto to sprinkle over rice, bite-size snacks flavored with natto, traditional Japanese natto rice crackers, and all kinds of unique fermented soy goodies to please discerning palates, but without a doubt, the most impressive of the bunch is this new natto cheesecake.

Along with your usual ingredients, they’ve mixed in a fine natto powder. We had to wonder if it would stink, but there wasn’t even a whiff of that distinctive natto smell. Generally, it’s thought that fermented foods are compatible, so perhaps because the cake also contains cheese and butter, the addition of natto doesn’t give it a strange flavor. Rather, it gives it a richer, more complex one.

Perhaps those of you that like natto will be disappointed by this cake’s lack of stickiness and smelliness, but those of us that aren’t natto fans will find it much easier to eat! Whichever camp you fall into, you can’t deny this is an adventurous culinary creation. Whoever came up with the idea, we tip our hats to your creativity and audacity.
Looks deceptively like a normal cheesecake…
There’s rich, almost coffee-like flavor in there.