Japan is mayo land.
Dressing, filling or used for cooking, mayonnaise is often used in Japan. Best shots would be salad dressing, pizza topping, or on a onigiri and okonomiyaki. These are also made as sauce for cooked seafood such as prawns. But the craze doesn’t stop there. There are even popular snack items such as chips that is in mayo flavors.
With this craze, there also comes different brands of mayonnaise – and yes, even unbranded or generic ones, that are sold in the market. Here are my top brands in reverse order:
4. Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise
An American brand, Hellmann’s is considered popular in Japan. A quick look at the ingredients, one would find that it contains whole eggs, distilled vinegar, salt and sugar. Best for cooking, this mayonnaise though is a bit sour compared to its Japanese counterparts.
In terms of texture, Hellmann’s is quite thick in constitution compared to its Japanese mayo brands. It’s most probably attributed that Hellmann’s uses whole eggs in the mixture. It is also lacking the tanginess which is more favored by the Japanese taste buds.
A Japanese mayo brand, Kenko is made from vegetable and canola oils, water vinegar and egg yolk. The texture is just light and it has a yellowish color.
These mayonnaise are conveniently packed in flexible plastic containers that has caps with pouring holes shaped like a star. “It is good for sushi and salads,” one friend said remarking on how she loves Kenko. My friend adds also that Kenko is very close to Kewpie’s taste (which we will discuss in the latter segment of this blog), however cheaper in price.
Another Japanese brand, Ajinomoto prides itself for using very fresh eggs – or at least up until three (3) days after these were laid. Not just that, Ajinomoto maintains that the chicken laying eggs are with premium feeds to ensure the produce of quality eggs.
Ajinomoto also uses malted vinegar which gives it a distinctive taste.
Ajinomoto is in the Japanese market for over 30 years now and has about 20% share of mayonnaise market in Japan today.
…and landing on my top spot is
Kewpie, as the name says is Japanese mayonnaise. Rightfully, Kewpie is considered to be the innovator of mayonnaise in Japan. First selling in Japan in 1925, Kewpie is almost close to a century old and is still the most trusted and most bought mayonnaise brand (about 70% market share) in Japan. This is in spite of the fact that local and imported mayonnaise brands in the country ballooned in the last few decades.
So how does it get to be number 1 spot? Kewpie contains egg yolk only, salt, sugar and brewed vinegar to include apple. However, the dividing line would be its umami taste. Kewpie contains monosodium glutamate which makes all flavors in a food stand out. That is why, Kewpie tastes rich and just light.
My friend once told me, “I would take Kewpie anytime as it feels like food from home”.
Then again, one might say this is quite biased for an opinion because friends ideally share the same tastes and likes. But what if I told you that even world reknowned chef such as Chris Santos and David Chang fondly uses Kewpie for their specialties and touting “Kewpie as the best mayonnaise in the world.”
And yes, for the tradition…for the staying power in the market…for nostalgia…I’d go for Kewpie too anytime!