On October 23, 2021, Japan fes, a wildly popular monthly street fair focused on Japanese food and culture, held its final event of 2021. While many of the vendors offer treats like ramen and takoyaki to the thousands of visitors, SUGIMOTO Shiitake of Miyazaki Prefecture sold Umami Vegan Shiitake Burgers made with Japanese Dried Shiitake DONKO and Shiitake Powder. These were a big hit with the crowd, which largely consisted of trend-sensitive young people in their 20s and 30s.
To allow people to experience the savory aroma of shiitake mushrooms, patties made of dried shiitake and chickpeas were grilled on a griddle in the booth and served hot. The booth attracted a long line of attendees who waited to buy the burgers, which sold out within four hours of going on sale. They were especially popular with the health-conscious crowd, with one visitor commenting “I’m a vegan, and I came here to enjoy this burger… I can’t get enough of it!”
This is SUGIMOTO Shiitake’s second experience at a food fest in New York, the first being at the Vegandale Food Drink Festival, which targets vegans and vegetarians. For that venue, they served “Zen Minestrone Soup” which is perfect for vegans who want to keep warm even in the summer, and was very popular.
This time, in order to match the interests of younger visitors, we went with the ever-popular burger. We received many positive comments such as, “I like the thick texture of the shiitake mushroom patty,” and “The sauce is good, teach me how to make it!” The feedback we received from customers was invaluable for planning our future developments.
Patties starring meaty shiitake mushrooms and a richly flavored shiitake sauce
The “Umami Vegan Shiitake Burger” is based on an original recipe created by SUGIMOTO Shiitake in collaboration with Hannah Kaminsky, a vegan chef living in Texas.
The patty is made from a paste of shiitake mushrooms and chickpeas, seasoned with soy sauce, miso, and balsamic vinegar to make it crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. In order to enhance the flavor of the shiitake mushrooms, a special sauce made by boiling real shiitake powder and garlic together with lemon juice and oil is used as a topping.
In the U.S., Beyond Meat and other plant-based “meats” have been popular for many years. Demand for meat alternatives has been growing, especially among vegans.
Recently, mushrooms have been attracting more attention as an alternative meat, especially shiitake mushrooms, which are rich in Vitamin D. Through this event, we were able to inspire many people who had never considered mushrooms as a viable meat alternative before!
We are currently editing a short movie about the event, and look forward to sharing it with all of you when it’s finished!