“Edamame, but not as you know it.”

In recent years, edamame have become a pretty trendy food in the western world. Here in Japan, though, the humble soybeans have been a mainstream, even blue-collar snack for generations.

So our Japanese-language reporter Udonko was a little surprised when she was strolling around downtown Kyoto’s Sanjo Meitengai shopping arcade and came across an a fashionable-looking specialty takeout shop dedicated to all sorts of uniquely flavored edamame.

“Edamame, but not as you know it,” promises the sign in front of Spice Up Edama・Meee, whose last syllable is pronounced like the long-E English word “me,” as opposed to the Japanese pronunciation of edamame. Having opened in October, Spice Up Edama・Meee bills itself as Japan’s first flavored edamame specialty shop.

Edamame are traditionally eaten as a snack either at home or in an izakaya (Japanese pub). Spice Up Edama・Meee, though, turns them into an on-the-go street food, and serves them in paper cartons with a little pocket at the back for you to put the inedible shell pods in after you pop the beans into your mouth.

In Japan, edamame are pretty much always boiled and given just a dash of salt before eating. Spice Up Edama・Meee, though, goes avant-garde with its seasonings, offering olive oil and chili pepper, butter soy, wasabi, ume (Japanese plum), and butter soy edamame, among other others.

Oh, and there’s one more way Spice Up Edama・Meee’s are “edamame, but not as we know them”…

…which is that individual orders are priced at 700 yen (US$4.50). In Japan, that’d be expensive for an order of edamame in a sit-down, table-service restaurant, and the price is even more eye-popping when it’s a takeout joint charging it.

Still, Udonko was intrigued, and after looking over the menu decided to try the most unique option of all, the Cheese Edamame.

This is the only item at Spice Up Edama・Meee that comes in a round cup instead of a French fry-style carton. The Cheese Edamame are also the only ones that are served already outside their pods, and which come with a spoon to eat them with. Accompanying the glistening edamame inside the cup are little cheese cubes, with black pepper spread over both of them.

While this is in no way the typical way to eat edamame in Japan, Udonko found the combination of flavors delicious. The richness of the cheese was nicely balanced by the simple, fresh flavor of the edamame, which Spice Up Edama・Meee has shipped to Kyoto directly by its supplier farmers in Shizuoka, Niigata, and Chiba Prefectures. The beans had just the right amount of pop to their texture, and the quantity is big enough that it’s a snack that’ll fill you up without making you feel bloated like less healthy fried or sweet snacks might.

There’s no eat-in area, but there is a table where you can sit while you wait for your order, and the wall with illustrated beans and the shop’s logo is openly encouraging social media snapshots.

With its ample English signage, and elevated price point, it’s pretty clear that Spice Up Edama・Meee is hoping to become a hit with inbound foreign tourists. However, the shop has won Udonko over too, but she might want to take some friends along the next time she goes back so that they can take advantage of Spice Up Edama・Meee’s two-orders-for-1,300-yen or three-for-1,500 deals.

Location information
Spice Up Edama・Meee /
Address: Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, Nakagyo-ku, Sanjodori Teramachi Higashi-iru Ishibashicho 21-2
Open 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Top image: SoraNews24
Insert images: SoraNews24, PR Times
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