We Ate Natto

Recently, I wrote about a purchase Jane and I made at the Japanese market in Los Angeles... In case you don't remember, we bought some natto (fermented soybeans). Well we finally got around to trying it last night. I have to admit to having cold feet, all those YouTube videos of people gagging and worse weren't inspiring. So every time Jane suggested we try it, I'd reply "not tonight, I'm not in the mood honey." 😉 Last night, she didn't ask, she just prepared the dish.

We have a few simple rules in our marriage. We try not to fight in front of friends/family. We don't spend over $100 without discussing it first. When someone prepares a meal, the other one eats it, unless it truly makes them ill. We can ask not to be fed something again, but we have to at least try it. So, I tried it.

Jane opened the package, and as expected, it was sticky. However, the smell everyone talked about didn't overwhelm us. We'd heard it was supposed to smell of stinky feet or strong cheese. It had an odor, but it was much milder and not at all offensive.

So you're supposed to stir the stuff up a bit before eating it. It gets more and more gooey as you do that (which began to freak me out a bit). Being that this was an experiment, we tasted the natto at this point without adding anything else. It tasted a bit like beans with a hint of beer. Not bad, but in definite need of improvement.

The suggested method of eating natto is over warm white rice with soy sauce and green onion. The natto comes with spicy mustard and some other seasoning packet. Typically we don't have white rice in the house. So we made sure to bring home our leftover rice from the Indian restaurant we ate at on Monday night. Okay, so the rice had a bit of saffron, and the natto would have probably been better over sticky rice, but overall, it was okay. It's way better than Vegemite! We thought the rice was necessary. And the sauce and onions improved the taste dramatically.

We'll eat the other two packages, however we probably wouldn't buy natto again. If it were served to us, we wouldn't hesitate to eat it. Honestly, I don't understand what all the fuss is about.

The package is all in Japanese, but they've put a little sticker on the back in English. So, we bought Kotsumbu Natto which came in three individual packages. The ingredient list:


  • Soybean
  • water


  • Soy sauce (water, soybean, wheat, salt)
  • vinegar
  • sugar
  • mustargd
  • salt and citric acid

Nutritional Info:

  • Calories: 140
  • Total Fat: 7g
  • Sodium: 1mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 9.8g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1.8g
  • Sugars: 8g
  • Protein: 11g


  1. This is funny that you posted this, since I just re-tried natto in a sushi roll on Sunday. I had a small bite straight out of the package a couple years ago, and I am definitely one of those people who gagged at the taste. My friend thought it was horrible too. Maybe you had a better brand or something? Also, the way you guys prepared it sounded as if it could be palatable.
    Anyway, I was able to eat 5 sushi rolls with the stuff in it this time, and it wasn’t too bad, but I really can’t see myself wanting to eat it again other than for its supposed health benefits.
    I enjoyed reading about your marriage rules 🙂

  2. Hi Lindsey,
    I understand the different varieties do have different tastes. I doubt we’ll be doing any comparisons though, as I don’t really think we’ll be buying the stuff again.
    I’ve seen sushi rolls with natto. In general, I don’t care for veggie sushi that much. Although I have had some excellent vegan rainbow rolls (with some kind of rice noodle wrapper).
    Thanks about the rules. They work for us! 🙂

  3. I’ll have to see if I can find the same brand here in Finland… Never tried natto and it has always freaked me out, but I believe it’s the best source of vitamin K as far as vegan food goes (as with vitamin D, there are several types of the vitamin, and unfortunately the type found in leafy greens is not nearly as good). And vitamin K may be the best nutrient to prevent atherosclerosis.

    If I ever buy it, I’ll probably season it with some gochujang (Korean chili paste, not very hot). That way even if it tastes nasty, I shouldn’t even notice!

  4. I do this thing where I re-try the foods I hate once a year to see if maybe my tastes have changed. After trying natto once a year for almost 20 years and hating it each time, for some reason it started to taste good to me last year. There’s an organic Japanese type with shiso perilla leaf paste add-in that I particularly like, especially when eaten with warm white rice and seasoned Korean seaweed. When I lived in Japan people were keen to convert me to natto, but the only way I liked it back then was fried with carrots, rice, soy sauce, etc. to cut the slimy mouthfeel.

  5. I’ve been enjoying poking around your blog the last couple of days and looking forward to reading more of your archives.
    Natto is def an acquired taste, but it is so good for you. I posted some info and a suggested use in response to some of the comments on this post and your earlier natto post.
    Since you have a couple packages left and are determined not to throw it away, I highly recommend the miso soup.

  6. Natto is often eaten with rice for breakfast, especially before a big exam for school or getting into high school/college. I like it, but I can’t eat much of it at once or the taste is overwhelming (kinda like how yogurt, sausage, and hot dogs used to be for me).

  7. Hi Maija,
    Funny, there was no mention of vitamin K on the package. But that’s great info to know. Thanks for sharing!
    If you do not find this brand, make sure to read the ingredient list carefully. Most of the others had Bonito (fish) on the list.
    The hot sauce would probably be a nice addition too.

    Hi Biggie,
    What a great habit. We’ll have to think about our “hated food list” to see if this makes sense for us to do too.
    Did you perhaps have a different brand of natto? Did anything else taste better too? Definitely didn’t see anything with shiso perilla leaf (since I don’t know what that is, it would have registered as odd). If you know the brand, please share. Thanks.
    We didn’t find it all that slimy when mixed in with the rice. It really wasn’t that bad.

    Hi Kara,
    I can see that it’s an acquired taste, although we didn’t have a negative reaction ourselves. I might consider trying it in a roll if I see it at some restaurant…

    Hi Yukiko,
    Thank you. We hope you enjoy our blog!
    Jane loves (I mean REALLY loves) Miso soup, any miso soup. She makes her own, and always brings some of the dried packages when we travel. She likes it for breakfast…
    Anyway, I notice you posted a recipe on your blog, so I expect we’ll have that over the weekend. Thanks!

    Hi Kim,
    I can see that it would be a breakfast food.
    Neither Jane nor I found the taste overwhelming, but then we didn’t experience that with yogurt, sausage, hot dogs…

  8. In every natto I have looked at, there is bonite (fish) powder. Even if it is not mentionned in the translation, you may ask carefully to a japanese native who will read the ingredients in japanese…

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