Saturday, September 7, 2013

Guide to the B-1 Grand Prix in Towada

(Updated with pictures and information from the Saturday, September 7 event.)

Hokkaido/Tohoku B-1 Local Gourmet Grand Prix in Towada
2013 北海道・東北B-1グランプリin十和田
Website | FlyerMap (all in Japanese)
Date: September 7- 8, 2013
Time: 10:00-16:00
Location: Around Kanchogai Street 官庁街通り周辺
Admission: "Event Tickets", a book of ten 100yen coupons (i.e. 1000yen total value) can be used towards the purchase of food. You cannot pay for food with cash. Event Tickets can be purchased in advance online, or in various supermarkets, bars/restaurants, shops, etc. around Towada. (See website (Japanese) for complete list of places selling tickets.) Tickets can also be purchased on site during the event.

Parking: There are 5 free parking lots near the venue as well as a few paid parking lots. The free parking lots have a total capacity of a little over 900 cars, so they are likely to fill up fast. (See map at the bottom of the post for locations--indicated by P1~P5.) You can also park at the Towada Aeon Supercenter and take a free shuttle bus to the venue.

Food Stalls:
Kanchogai Street (官庁街通り会場)
1. Yokote Yakisoba (Yokote City, Akita Prefecture) 4 tickets (400yen)
Yakisoba (fried noodles) with a sunny-side up egg on top.

2. Nayoro Nikomi Genghis Khan (Nayoro City, Hokkaido) 5 tickets (500yen)
Sukiyaki-style stewed thinly sliced lamb, vegetables and udon noodles.

3. Iwate-Machi Cabbage Shio Yaki Udon (Iwate Town, Iwate Prefecture) 3 tickets (300yen)
Fried udon noodles with cabbage, flavoured with olive oil and a salt-based sauce.
4. Aomori Shouga Miso Oden (Aomori City, Aomori Prefecture) 3 tickets (300yen)
Ginger and miso oden (daikon radish, fried fish cakes, boiled eggs, etc. stewed in broth)
5. Ichinoseki Harami Yaki (Ichinoseki City, Iwate Prefecture) 3 tickets (300yen)
Grilled chicken harami (tender meat around the diaphragm)
6. Kuroishi Tsuyu Yakisoba (Kuroishi City, Aomori Prefecture) 4 tickets (400yen)
Yakisoba in broth

7. Kamikita Croquette (Kamikita City, Iwate Prefecture) 3 tickets (300yen)
Sato imo (taro yam), Japanese "black" beef (from black-haired cattle), and asparagus mixed together into a patty, breaded and deep-fried.
8. Yamagata Imo-Ni Curry Udon (Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture) 4 tickets (400yen)
Stewed curry potatoes (and other vegetables) and udon noodles.
9.  Koufu Tori Motsu-Ni (Koufu City, Yamanashi Prefecture*) 4 tickets (400yen)
*Guest group from outside of Tohoku/Hokkaido
Flavoured and stewed chicken motsu (offal/guts)
10. Kuji Mamebu Jiru (Kuji City, Iwate Prefecture) 3 tickets (300yen)
Niboshi (dried infant sardines/anchovies) and kombu seaweed and soy-sauce based broth with gobou (burdock root), carrots, fried tofu, and flour dumplings with walnuts and kurozato (a type of raw sugar, Japanese "black" sugar)
11. Otaru Ankake Yakisoba (Otaru City, Hokkaido) 4 tickets (400yen)
Yakisoba topped with vegetables and seafood and ankake sauce (a kind of thick, flavourful sauce).
12. Honjou Ham Fry (Yuri Honjou City, Akita Prefecture) 3 tickets (300yen)
Breaded and deep-fried ham.
13. Ishimaki Yakisoba (Ishimaki City, Miyagi Prefecture) 3 tickets (300yen)
Ishimaki Yakisoba uses a special type of twice-steamed yakisoba noodle that is brown even before cooking.

Shoutengai (商店街会場)

14. Towada Barayaki (Towada City, Aomori Prefecture) 3 tickets (300yen)
Grilled onions and beef bara (belly meat) with a special sauce.
15. Kahoku Tsumetai Niku Soba (Kahoku Town, Yamagata Prefecture) 3 tickets (300yen)
 Chilled soba (buckwheat) noodles and chicken in a chicken and soy-sauce based broth.
16. Toyoma Abura-Fu Donburi (Toyoma City, Miyagi Prefecture) 3 tickets (300yen)
Abura-fu (deep fried bean curd formed into a stick) on rice.
17. Namie Yakisoba (Namie Town, Fukushima Prefecture) 4 tickets (400yen)
Thick yakisoba noodles with bean sprouts, pork and special sauce.
18. Omagari Natto Jiru (Daisen City, Akita Prefecture) 3 tickets (300yen)
Natto (fermented soy beans) miso soup topped with onsen tamago (hot spring egg--i.e. a very softly boiled egg) and okoge (literally the crispy/burnt rice you sometimes get at the bottom of a rice cooker, but in this case it's made to be crispy but not browned/burnt).
19. Ohoutsuku Kitami Shio Yakisoba (Kitami City, Hokkaido) 5 tickets (500yen)
Sea salt yakisoba with onions and scallops--all local Hokkaido ingredients.
20. Oga Shottsuru Yakisoba (Oga City, Akita Prefecture) 4 tickets (400yen)
Shottsuru (fish-based soy sauce) yakisoba with crab claws, shrimp, squid.

21. Hachinohe Senbei Jiru (Hachinohe City, Aomori Prefecture) 3 tickets (300yen)
Vegetable and meat soup with senbei (a type of Japanese cracker).

Towada Barayaki Kids Park (十和田バラ焼キッズパーク会場)

Three local Towada elementary schools present their own versions of barayaki (3 tickets (300yen)). Takashizu ES (left) uses Aomori beef, Shoyo ES (center) uses garlic pork instead of beef, and Sanbongi ES (right) uses onions that they planted and grew themselves at Sanbongi Nogyo (Agricultural) High School.
Sanbongi ES barayaki
Leftover Tickets:
You can use any leftover tickets at a variety of shops, restaurants, bars etc. in Towada including Sakura 156 (the souvenir shop inside Art Station Towada), most grocery stores, and even Eagle Bowl (bowling). A complete list (Japanese only) of participating locations can be found here.

How to Vote:
voting station

Put your chopstick(s) into the ballot box of the group you liked best--consider the personality/performance of the group as well as the actual taste of the food.

Only brown chopsticks can be used to vote. White chopsticks (e.g. from Towada Barayaki or Koufu Tori Motsu-Ni) cannot be used.

Even if you buy from more than one stand, you can only use one set of chopsticks to vote.

Each individual chopstick can be used to vote separately, i.e. you can vote for two different groups with one chopstick each or give the pair of chopsticks to a single group.

Suggestions to get the most of the event:
 - Be patient. Expect to spend a lot of time waiting in line.

- Go from west to east. To see everything, start from the west (around stall number 10) and head east (towards stall number 1), swing by the Towada Barayaki Kids and Towada Market and then go a little north to the Shoutengai venue. Be warned that the Kanchogai Street stalls (numbers 1-13) tend to have longer lines (on average 30-40min?) than the Shoutengai venue (numbers 14-21), where waiting times were from 5-20min.
 In particular the Koufu Tori Motsu-Ni (stall number 9) has extremely long line-ups--at one point it was a 150min (2.5hr) wait! You can see below, this is towards the end of the line (approx. 2hr wait from here). The stall itself is located about where the third tree from the left is (with the white flag).
 The stall is finally in sight ahead (the blag flags on the right), but it's still about an hour's wait from here. The people standing on the left side are in the front of the line from the above picture (the 2hr+ wait). You can see that it still's a fairly long line on the right, too.

- Plan ahead. Decide what you want to eat, look at the map and plot out a course ahead of time.

- Divide & conquer. If you're going with friends or family, make a list of what people want to eat, assign people to go to different booths, and set up a place to meet once everyone has got their food. (Or tell everyone to look for you in the motsu-ni line if you decide to get some, because they can probably get 2-3 dishes and you'll still be in line.) This way you can reduce the amount of time spent waiting in line and share food so you can try more types. A lot of the dishes are fairly hearty--lots of yakisoba (fried noodles) and fried things, so if you try to eat everything by yourself you'll probably get full by the second or third dish.

- Bring drinks/sweets. Most of the food is salty/savoury so you will probably get thirsty and/or start to crave sweets. There are drink stands, but it will cost about 150yen for a bottle.
tea mascot next to drink stand
The vending machines in the Chuo Kominkan (central community center), inside the library, and near the public restrooms (by the big horseshoe statue) on the park side are probably cheaper but they might sell out fairly quickly. There are Lawson, Mini-Stop and Circle K convenience stores within walking distance (see map) but it's nice to be able eat your B-1 dishes with drinks and have dessert on hand rather than having to go out to get it afterward. There's also an excellent patisserie/cafe called Shiroi Mori nearby if you want to sit down and have some tea/coffee and cakes afterward (the banana milk tea is a favourite among local ALTs).