spaghetti rolled on fork
What Is Itameshi Cuisine And Why Is It So Popular In Japan?
By Elaina Friedman
In Japanese, Itameshi simply translates to "Italian food" and is often paired with the word wafu or "Japanese style" at Itameshi-focused restaurants. And just like Italian-American cuisine, Japan has its own way of doctoring up iconic dishes from the boot-shaped country.
Wafu spaghetti is a standout in Itameshi cuisine. Japanese-American writer Nina Li Coomes explains the dish as "a whole category of various spaghetti dishes that are nudged with umami-laden soy sauce or butter emulsions, replace Parmesan with seaweed, or swap out basil for strips of verdant shiso."
While Japanese cafes had been serving spaghetti since the 1920s, it wasn't until the 1990s that Itameshi cuisine really flourished. The boom came about after the Asian economies collapsed in 1991 when customers started looking for an alternative to fine dining cuisine and Italian food was regarded as "friendly, cheap, and cheerful."