But true beauty is in the eye of the bean-holder.

Lawson is a leading convenience store chain in Japan, but unlike its rivals 7-Eleven and FamilyMart, Lawson is unique in that it has spin-off stores. One such store is Lawson Store 100, with its discounted prices, and Natural Lawson, with a range of healthier and more environmentally friendly goods.

It was in Natural Lawson that our ace reporter Mr. Sato stumbled upon another scoop: “Beautiful Natto.” That is actually an English translation of the product name “Binatto” which claims to be a more appetizing alternative to traditional natto.

▼ To further sweeten the deal, Binatto is sold with your choice of tomato or corn sauce

For those unfamiliar with the Japanese fermented soy beans, natto is just as famous for its incredibly high nutrition as it is for its repelling smell and mucusy texture. In recent years a lot of progress in smell reduction has been made, and Binatto hopes to be the apex of these efforts.

To find out if this was the case, Mr. Sato opened his pack of corn sauce Binatto. To his surprise, not only was the standard square tub there, but another larger cup as well.

Inside the cup was a packet of corn sauce and some toppings. Of course the main attraction was, as usual, in the square box…only it looked noticeably different.

It had the signature natto-brown hue but otherwise just looked like a pile of moist beans. There was no webbing of ooze either, just a sort of sheen that attractively reflected the light.

Mr. Sato couldn’t believe his eyes or nose. He’d had smell-reduced natto before, but this was utterly scentless. To be sure, he stuck his nose right into the box and took as big a whiff as he could.

According to a press release by Mizkan, this scent-free quality was achieved by fermenting the bean with a “newly discovered natto bacterium” and through a unique process compared to conventional natto. However, not much is said about the nutrition of Binatto compared to plain natto, but if it even turns out to be a fraction of the health food juggernaut, you’re still ahead of the game.

▼ Normal natto (left) and Binatto (right)

Mr. Sato put the clean beans into the cup and drizzled on the corn sauce. Then he sprinkled on the toppings, which were a mixture of quinoa puffs, oats, almonds, and edamame.

After stirring it all together, there was still no trace of natto smell. All Mr. Sato could detect was a faint scent of corn.

He decided to eat it his favorite way, on top of some rice. However, something didn’t sit right with our reporter. It just didn’t look like natto and rice. It kind of looked like keema curry.

Eating it only made Mr. Sato more conflicted. There was no taste of natto and even the texture of the beans were masked by the crunchy grains. He began to wonder if it wouldn’t go better with some vegetables or on toast. Since we’re changing the rules of natto, maybe it would be best to change the way it’s eaten too.

Nevertheless, he could easily see how Binatto would be a good gateway bean to the real thing and lure in those normally turned off by slimy textures and fermented odors. Even better, natto fans can eat this in public without having to worry about offending friends and co-workers with its distinct smell and ropes of goo.

It was indeed revolutionary natto, if not a little confusing for die-hard consumers like Mr. Sato. However, Binatto will only be sold for a limited time at Natural Lawson for 208 yen a pack, so you’ll want to hurry if you’d like to get a taste of the future of fermented beans.

Source: Mizkan, PR Times
Photos ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]