Natto is a Japanese superfood that’s made from fermented soybeans. It’s known for its incredibly savory umami flavor, slimy texture, and salty bite.
It’s also packed full of probiotics, making it one of the healthiest foods in the world for your overall gut health.
Over the past few years, Natto has become a very trendy food, especially in vegan circles where it’s praised for its savory, meat-like flavors.
If you’ve been wondering where to buy natto for yourself, then you’ve come to the right place!
Below, I’ll show you what you need to look for when purchasing natto, break down the most popular types of natto, and then show you where to buy the best natto. It’s time you tried something new, don’t you think?
What To Look For When Buying Natto
If you read my last post about Japanese natto and everything that goes into making it, then you’re probably reading this because you’re ready to give it a try…
If you’ve never tried or purchased natto before, then it helps to know what you’re looking for before you buy it. Otherwise, you could end up purchasing the wrong natto and having a bad first experience.
For example, if you’re new to natto and you start off by purchasing an incredibly strong-tasting, extra-slimy batch of natto, you’ll probably be turned off forever!
I generally recommend that newcomers try something lighter and less slimy until they get used to natto’s iconic flavor before they move up the ladder and try some of the more “flavorful” varieties.
To help you in your search to find the best natto, I decided to create a helpful little table outlining what you need to look for when buying natto:
|What To Look For When Buying Natto||Why It Matters|
|The Type of Soybeans Used||Black and red soybeans are the two most popular types of soybean used to make natto. Both produce the same end product, but they each have a distinct flavor profile. It’s similar to how black beans taste different from pinto beans. You may also find natto that combines black and red soybeans.|
|Organic vs. Non-Organic Natto||Organic natto is made using only organically-grown soybeans. It typically costs a little bit extra, but you’ll be able to eat with peace of mind knowing that no harmful chemicals and pesticides made their way into your natto.|
|The Size Of The Container||Once you break the vacuum seal on your jar of natto, the fermentation process will start again. For the best flavor, you’ll want to consume your natto within a few days after opening it. If it’s just going to be you eating it, I would start with a smaller container so you don’t end up wasting any.|
|Salted vs. Unsalted Natto||Salted natto is, by far, the most common type of natto. However, if you’re looking for something with a milder flavor that’s not so salty, then you might want to try low-salt or unsalted natto.|
|Added Seasoning||Some natto brands offer their fermented soybeans with additional seasonings, such as turmeric. If you’re trying to experiment with a slightly different flavor profile, this is a great way to expand your palette.|
That pretty much covers the basics. Depending on the brand of natto you’re buying, the outside of the container may contain a few extra notes about the overall flavor and texture of the natto.
Those are worth reading, especially if you’re looking for a specific type of natto!
Are There Different Types Of Natto?
That brings us to our next point… There are several different types of natto. Although they all share the same general flavor profile and salty umami taste, there are slight differences in flavor and texture.
Some natto is slimier, while others are drier. Some natto is made with whole beans, while other natto is made with crushed or split beans. Each method produces slightly different results.
Most Popular Types Of Japanese Natto
To help simplify your search for the best natto, here are the most popular types of Japanese natto that you may run into:
- Daitokuji Natto: This is one of the most common types of Japanese natto preparations. It’s made using only black soybeans and is known for it’s extra-salty flavor profile.
- Hikiwari Natto: While most natto is made using whole soybeans, hikiwari natto is made using chopped soybeans. This results in a softer, more chewy consistency.
- Mito Natto: This type of natto is made from small soybeans instead of the medium to large-sized soybeans used for most natto. This gives it a somewhat caviar-like consistency.
- Niowanatto: If you’re just trying natto for the first time, then niowanatto is a great option. It’s Japanese for “low-odor” natto. It’s made using special enzymes that don’t release as much of the umami flavor and don’t produce as much of the slimy residue.
- Hoshi Natto: Hoshi natto is dried natto that’s often used as a topping on soup or salads. It can also be eaten as a slightly crunchy snack if you’re looking for a bit of savory crunchiness in your life!
Where To Buy Natto: Your Guide To Finding The Best Natto
Not long ago, natto was an incredibly rare delicacy to find. If you wanted to eat Natto, you pretty much had to live in a city like New York or San Francisco with a large Japanese population.
Occasionally, you’d find it in an authentic Japanese restaurant or small corner store. Other than that, natto wasn’t very popular and most Americans had no idea what it was.
Today, it’s a different story.
Although natto might not be available on every single grocery store shelf, almost anybody can buy it on Amazon or find it at a local Asian or Japanese specialty market.
If you’ve been wanting to try natto, keep on reading to get the scoop on finding the best natto!
1) Order It On Amazon
Unfortunately, most of us aren’t lucky enough to live right next door to a Japanese grocery store or restaurant where natto is served on a daily basis.
Until recently, you would’ve had to catch a plane ticket to Tokyo if you wanted to try authentic natto.
Thankfully, Amazon came along and changed the game. If you’re looking to try some delicious natto for the first time, you’ll find a couple of small-batch Amazon sellers who produce and sell their own house-made batches of natto.
Currently, the two top-selling natto stores on Amazon are:
There are a couple of other small Japanese retailers who sell wet natto and dried hoshi natto products as well. However, Rhapsody and New York Natto are, by far, the top-reviewed sellers with the best quality products.
Rhapsody is a small-batch natto producer out of Vermont, while New York Natto is produced by a small Japanese nutrition company based out of NYC. I’ve sampled both brands before, and the quality is outstanding.
Normally, the nice thing about ordering from Amazon is that you can count on two-day Prime shipping. Unfortunately, neither of these products are Prime eligible.
Rhapsody takes around five days to ship your order, while New York Natto takes two to three days to ship orders (making it the faster of the two).
Other than those two brands, there aren’t any other Prime-eligible wet natto brands available on Amazon. So, either way, you’ll have to wait a few days.
If you’ve never tried natto before, though, and you want the best then I highly recommend picking up a jar of New York Natto!
On the other hand, if you’re looking for dried natto, retailers like JAL Selection offer two-day Prime shipping on their hoshi natto.
- Get high-quality natto shipped straight to your doorstep.
- Ability to read reviews and compare brands.
- Better selection of organic natto than your average grocery store.
- Affordable natto.
- Amazon has retailers that sell both wet natto and dry hoshi natto.
- Unfortunately, most of the natto retailers on Amazon don’t offer two-day Prime shipping. This means you’ll have to wait an extra couple of days for your natto to arrive.
2) Japanese or Asian Specialty Market
If you’re lucky enough to live near a Japanese or Asian import supermarket, then there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find some decent-quality natto for sale there.
As natto is primarily a Japanese food, you’ll probably have better luck with a Japanese-specific store. However, Asian import markets are a good second choice.
The only difficulty you may have buying natto from an Asian grocery store is that the text on the jar will almost always be written in Japanese.
So, to make sure you get the right thing, you may have to ask one of the clerks for help finding it.
The quality of the natto is completely dependent on the store’s selection. Some markets will feature organic, high-quality natto, while others may sell more basic varieties of natto which may include added preservatives. It’s kind of a hit-or-miss type of thing.
- Japanese supermarkets almost always have several selections of natto on-hand.
- Natto from grocery stores is generally more affordable than buying natto online from a specialty retailer.
- The natto you purchase from an Asian supermarket will almost always be imported directly from Japan, so it’s as authentic as it gets.
- The natto sold in Japanese supermarkets will typically feature a Japanese label, making it hard to read unless you know the language.
- Some of the natto sold in grocery stores will contain added chemical preservatives designed to keep it fresh while it is being transported overseas.
3) Japanese Restaurants
If you want to try natto at its best, then looking for a restaurant that serves fresh house-made natto is, by far, your best option. You’ll also be able to eat your natto in the way that it’s traditionally prepared with sticky white rice!
If you’re looking for more interesting ways to eat your natto, check out this video by Japanese YouTube vlogger, Outdoor Chef Life:
The only difficulty is that the majority of Japanese restaurants don’t sell natto. The majority of Japanese restaurants in the U.S. primarily cater to Americans, who still aren’t very familiar with natto.
This means that you may need to call around and ask several restaurants before you find one that offers it.
- The natto will always be fresh.
- The natto is typically house-made, so you don’t have to worry about added preservatives and chemicals.
- You’ll be able to eat natto in the way it’s traditionally prepared and eaten in Japan.
- Most American-oriented Japanese restaurants don’t sell natto as it’s not very popular with Americans.
- You’ll usually have to call several Japanese restaurants before you find one that sells fresh natto.
Does Natto Expire?
If you purchase a sealed jar of natto on Amazon, then it should keep for several months in the refrigerator before it goes bad. An expiration date should be printed on the jar, so you have an exact date.
Once you break the airtight seal and open the jar of natto, though, it’s best to eat it all within seven days. Once the seal is broken, the bacteria will go back to work and continue fermenting the soybeans until they’re so sour that they’re borderline inedible.
After the container is opened, you should store the remaining natto in the most airtight container that you can find to help it last longer.
Conclusion- Where Is The Best Place To Buy Natto?
Natto is definitely an acquired taste, but it’s a super-healthy, traditional Japanese food that I think everybody should try at least once. Maybe you’ll hate it, but maybe you’ll end up loving it! There’s a reason it’s been around for over a thousand years…
If you want to avoid the trouble of searching all around town for somewhere that sells natto, then the best way to get fresh natto is to buy it on Amazon.
It gets delivered fresh and in a sealed container, so you can store it as long as you’d like until you’re ready to eat it.
Some people like to eat their natto with a veggie wrap and some rice. If you’re looking for the best raw vegan wraps to roll your natto in, check out this post!