Who knew the Japanese were some of the world’s biggest mayonnaise fanatics? With entire restaurants devote to the condiment, along with a mayo museum (really) and a term for mayonnaise fanatics (mayolers), it’s definitely a thing. But when you say mayonnaise in Japan, you’ll inevitably get a bottle of Kewpie. Soon after you’ll become addicted to the stuff.
It’s been a staple in the kitchen of many Asian-inspired chefs, from Momofuko’s David Chang—who called it the best mayonnaise in the world in a Food & Wine article—to local chefs like Matthew Williams of Ramen Gaijin.
“Kewpie is great because it’s has a bit of sweetness from rice wine vinegar and let’s be real, a ton of MSG,” Williams said.
Indeed it’s not for everyone, but it’s also the very definition of umami, that hard-to-describe flavor that’s both rich and savory, thanks to MSG. Let me say that one more time. There’s a lot of MSG in it.
A bit sweeter than good old Hellman’s (aka Best Foods), Kewpie mayo, which is in fact named after the adorable doll that’s its trademark, is insanely smooth and spreadable, best slathered over, well, everything. Closest we can come to a familiar American taste is Miracle Whip.
Mix it into Sriracha, use it for the world’s most decadent deviled eggs, slap it on a sandwich or just squirt a bit on a pretzel.
$5.99 at Asia Mart, 2481 Guerneville Rd., Santa Rosa, (707) 542-3515.