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foodjapan.net - Chanko-nabe

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[food]* Cooked in a miso, salt or shoyu base, chanko-nabe is traditionally served to sumo wrestlers to help them gain weight.


Chanko-nabe is a dish traditionally served to sumo wrestlers to help them gain weight for tournaments. Ingredients are boiled together in a shoyu, miso or salt base, and served communally in a large pot. There is no fixed recipe for chanko-nabe and chefs will usually opt for whatever ingredients are in season, but meat or fish usually feature heavily alongside ingredients such as fried tofu, mushrooms and other vegetables.

Price can vary wildly with area and ingredients but I saw these going at ¥3,000 - ¥5,000 per nabe in Tokyo's Ryogoku district. One restaurant-sized nabe is usually shared between two or more people, and eaten with other side dishes.




For sumo wrestling, the heavier you are, the less likely you are to be thrown off your feet, and as such sumo wrestlers strive to put on as much weight as possible. Chanko-nabe is said to have developed from this as a cost-effective way of providing weight gain - allowing flexibility with ingredients as well as nutritional balance.

Chicken is favoured on the belief that a wrestler should always be on two legs (like a chicken) and never on all fours (like a cow or pig) or off his feet altogether (like a fish) - although at restaurants all types are common. Only chicken is served to sumo wrestlers while a sumo tournament is in progress.




Look out for chanko-nabe specialty shops throughout Japan, or concentrated in Tokyo's Ryogoku district, the traditional home of sumo.

I tried it at:

Yuu (Ryogoku Branch)

3-24-5 Ryogoku
Sumida District 


Getting there: 1 min. walk from JR Ryogoku station (Chuo-Sobu Line)




Actually, I think it just seems like a rather mild version of Chinese or Taiwanese hot pot. This prep method certainly brings out the best in the ingredients, it's lovely as comfort food and I certainly enjoyed it - but unless you're in it for the tradition it is, as a culinary item, quite unremarkable. Sorry. ♥♥

For more information, see our blog entry on chanko-nabe.

Like / love chanko-nabe? Got someplace to recommend? Comment below or Twitter / twitter.com/foodjapan


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