Moose Milk Cheese from Sweden is priced at $500 per pound; La Bonnotte potatoes from western France go for as a much as $1,543 per pound; Almas caviar from Iran sells for $25,000–comes in a 24K gold tin. Of course. Luxurious and wildly expensive food comes from all over the world. There is one country, however, that seems to have a larger number of luxury food items than any other country in the world.
Japan, the city of Tokyo specifically, is known for having one of the highest costs of living anywhere on the planet. Coincidentally, some of the world’s most expensive foods are found in shops and markets throughout the country. Certain food items in Japan are not just expensive, but also quite unique — items you just can’t find in the fresh fruit or meat sections of your own local grocery store.
Japan has a long-standing custom of presenting gifts to business associates and bosses as a token of appreciation. In the world of business, gift-giving signifies the importance the giver attaches to the relationship. Fruits in particular are popular options, especially high-end fruits, which create a lasting impression on Japanese clients, according to Tokyo-based corporate trainer Farhad Kardan. To meet demand, luxury fruit boutiques have popped up catering to well-heeled clientele out to impress.
From world-famous wagyu beef to melons to milk, Japan is blessed with a dizzying array of exotic and unique food choices. If you are a foodie at heart, a trip to this alluring country may be just the culinary experience you are seeking. Tantalize your taste buds, expand your taste pallet and sample some of the most expensive foods on the planet. Here are ten of Japan’s most expensive foodie choices.
10. Milk — $43
Brought to you by Japan’s Nakazawa Foods, this particular brand of milk sells for roughly $43 a quart, a price that is nearly thirty times more than ordinary milk. Aimed at “adults who live in a stressful society,” Nakazawa Foods milk product comes with special stress-relieving qualities. The milk is taken from the cows once a week at dawn, at a time when the animals release higher levels of melatonin, a hormone that supposedly has the ability to lower anxiety and even some forms of depression in people.
9. Kobe Beef Steak Pizza — $66
In a country known for its exclusive and expensive beef, it makes sense that it would show up as a topping on a fast food chain’s menu. This pizza pie, available at Domino’s, is topped with potato, onion, and a deluxe steak sauce, along with the high-end Kobe marbled meat. Get it to go for $66.
8. Fugu – $100
Get this wrong, and the consequences are deadly. This is pufferfish and pufferfish are lethally poisonous if not prepared correctly. Despite this, fugu has become one of the most celebrated Japanese dishes. A Japanese chef must undergo rigorous training and certification before he is allowed to prepare the fish for human consumption. Fugu is normally prepared in such a way that a tiny amount of poison is left in the fish, as the poison gives it a slightly numbing and tingling effect. A full-course fugu meal will start at $100 per person.
7. Square Watermelon – $800 each
Well, why not have square watermelon, especially since there’s a very practical reason for having square watermelons in Japan. Space is tight everywhere, including refrigerator space. The solution: make watermelon square and in the exact same dimensions of Japanese refrigerators. They not only fit perfectly, but are also stackable. It’s a win-win all around. To get their shape, these watermelons are grown in square glass containers. They sell in specialty fruit stores in Japan for around $200. In Moscow, wealthy Russians are buying up this specially designed fruit for as much as $800.
6. Matsutake Mushrooms — $2000/ Kilogram
In the 80s and 90s, matsutake mushrooms were an expensive, popular food. Today, they are an expensive, rare food due to infestation of its environment. The annual harvest of matsutake mushrooms in Japan yields less than one thousand tons. The price for matsutake in the Japanese market is highly dependent on quality, availability, and origin of the mushrooms. The Japanese matsutake at the beginning of the season, which is the highest grade, can go for up to $2,000 per kilogram depending on supply and demand.
5. Wagyu Beef — $500 to $2,800
Wagyu literally means Japanese cow and refers to several breeds of cattle known for its marbling. Depending on where the cattle are raised, different breeding or feeding techniques are used. Massaging the cattle or feeding them sake or beer may be involved. The goal is to produce cattle with intensified rich flavored meat. The most exclusive Wagyu in the world comes from Kobe, Japan. An average steak can cost upwards of $500, but can go as high as $2,800.
4. Ruby Roman Grapes — $4000 per bunch
This is a variety of table grape grown strictly Ishikawa Prefecture. First introduced in 2008, these grapes are strictly checked to ensure their quality. Each grape is the size of a ping-pong ball, red in color, must weigh over 20 grams and have a sugar content of over 18%. A “premium class” grape exists, which requires each grape to be 30 grams and the entire fruit bunch must weigh a minimum of 700 grams. In 2010 only six grapes qualified for “premium class”. In 2011 no grapes met the standard. In July, 2013, a single bunch of Ruby Roman grapes reportedly sold for $4,000, making the plump, crimson berries worth a staggering $110 each.
3. Densuke Black Watermelon — $6,100 each
Grown on the Japanese island of Hokkaido these rare black watermelons are known for their exquisite crispness and level of sweetness. Only 10,000 are produced annually. It’s the short supply at harvest time that can skyrocket their price during an auction. In 2008, a 17-pound fruit sold for $6,100, making it, at the time, the most expensive watermelon ever sold.
2. Yubari King Melons — $26000 a pair
This orange-fleshed melon is a hybrid of two cantaloupes and is prized for its juicy sweetness, as well as its beautiful proportions. Most often they are sold in pairs. Yubari King Melons are sometimes presented as gifts during Chūgen. A top-grade melon is to be perfectly round and have an exceptionally smooth rind. A portion of the stem is left on top for aesthetic appeal. In Japan, these melons can be found in stores for $50 to $100 each. At auctions, they have been known to sell for as much as $26,000 for a pair.
1. Toro – Price Unavailable
Toro is the fatty belly of the tuna and is commonly used for sushi. True toro is only taken from blue fin tuna and is graded according to its marbling. The most valuable toro, known as otoro, is taken from the underside of the fish close to the head. A lesser grade, chutoro, comes from the belly in the middle and back of the fish. It is less marbled than otoro. Toro is easily the most expensive item on a menu and changes constantly based on market prices. No current price could be had. Besides, if you have to ask the price…