Rediscovering Itameshi Cuisine for a New Audience

Itameshi Cuisine is the impossibly delicious melding of Italian cooking with Japanese ingredients.

And while Italian pasta had already made its way to Japan back in the Edo period (1603 – 1868), it wasn’t until the American occupation of Japan after the second World War that classic Italian dishes like spaghetti came onto the scene thanks to the Italian-American GIs who were homesick for the red-sauced comfort foods their grandmothers used to make.

According to Eater, the Italian persuasion had taken hold of the country by the 60’s, and noodles could regularly be found in your local, Japanese coffee shop. Once the 80’s hit, the foreign fascination had taken hold, and it was a full-on Itameshi boom. With the 1991 economic collapse, Japanese eateries all but abandoned their fancier (and more costly) French food which paved the way for the more accessible and affordable Italian palate.

Itameshi, literally meaning “Italian Food” in Japanese, is essentially a tribute to the two countries’ obsession with noodles. The cuisine is built upon a heritage of tradition, craft, affordability and pure ingredient-driven flavor. One particular flavor stands out: umami – the special, savory fifth flavor that propels popular Japanese foods like soy sauce and butter.

As the Itameshi obsession has grown, Japanese chefs are often known to apprentice in Italy and bring home the traditional Italian cooking techniques so they can put their own unique spin on it with Japanese ingredients.

It’s led to predict that 2020 will recognize a new rise in Itameshi cuisine.

Already, the audience for this tasty fusion has grown as American chefs have begun exploring the connection between Italian and Japanese cuisines and adding their own spin. Now, more and more palates from around the world can enjoy the complex, flavor-driven dishes of old-world Italian cooking being challenged by passionate Japanese gastronomy.

At Nikken Foods, we are big fans of Itameshi cuisine.

Maybe it’s because our history also took hold in Japan in the 1960’s with our founding by Dr. Hirotomo Ochi. Or perhaps it’s our pension for pioneering high-quality, all-natural fusions of ingredients to share with consumers all over the world.

This drive for flavor enhancement has made us a global provider for premium, natural ingredients for the food industry. To that end, we’ve pulled out the recipe cards of some our top Itameshi-inspired ingredients to spark your new obsession:

To learn more, explore Nikken Foods’ product portfolio today.