The word comes with such a savory overtone of mysterious Japanese flavor, doesn’t it? It is a combination of two Japanese words of Umai (delicious in Japanese) and Mi (taste), so the literal meaning of Umami is “delicious taste”. This word has been known globally among foodies and recognized as the fifth taste after sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and saltiness. But not many people realize that the true identity of Umami is glutamic acid also known as MSG (monosodium glutamate). MSG was stigmatized as a chemical ingredient that might cause allergic reactions in some people, and food companies started slapping a “NO MSG” stamp on some of their products. Chinese restaurants also were labeled as serving food that contained MSG, so you often see “NO MSG” disclaimer on their menus, but Japanese restaurants somehow avoided the same stigma. Isn’t that strange? MSG was invented by a Japanese chemist, who eventually started a multi-billion dollar food company, Ajinomoto, that now employs over 30,000 employees. If you look at their web site (ajinomoto.com), the discovery of MSG and its use in their products are openly discussed.
The four major broths used in traditional Japanese food are Konbu (a type of seaweed), Katsuo-bushi (Bonito flakes / Bonito is a type of tuna fish), Iriko (a dried small sardine), and Hoshi-shiitake (dried Shiitake mushroom) broths. Dr. Kikunae Ikeda; the founder of Ajinomoto, identified and isolated the common compound in those broths which is glutamic acid and named it Umami. MSG is a man made glutamic acid. On the spice rack of a typical Japanese household, you likely will find a bottle of Ajinomoto. It instantaneously adds Umami and enhances unique Japanese savor. If you don’t particularly care for Japanese cuisine, your tongue might not find that Umami agrees with you.
*Broken Japanese expressions are used. Identify ”い抜き” expressions.
B: あっ、その店(みせ)知(し)ってる。えっ〜と、店の名前(なまえ)、何だっけ？ 香港屋(ほんこんや)だったかな〜？ お前(まえ)、最近(さいきん) 中華料理ばかり食(た)べてない？
お味噌汁(みそしる) n. miso soup, お is a beautifying particle
から p. from
てくれる v. te-form of a verb + てくれる giving favor by doing "te-form" action
って何(なん)ですか an expression to ask unknown word comes before って
鰹節(かつおぶし) n. bonito flakes
煮(に)る v. to boil
似(に)ている v. 似る to look alike +いる state of being
かもしれません may be
なんて p. (N2 level) add to express surprise
知(し)らない v. ない-form of to know
の p. creates a noun clause
難(むずか)しそうだ i-adj 難しい + aux.v. そうだ, seems to be difficult
即席(そくせき) n. instant
使(つか)えば v. conditional form of 使う, to use
簡単(かんたん)に na-adj. easily
の方(ほう)が (Aより)Bの方が 〜 comparison expression. B is better than A. A part is omitted in this sentence.
さあ Interjection. used to urge an action.
冷めない v. ない-form of being cold
うちに p. (N3 level) while. while it is still hot, please eat (in this sentence)
召(め)し上(あ)がる v. respect tone of "to eat"
こないだ n. colloquial form of このあいだ=先日(せんじつ), the other day.
チャーハン n. fried rice. also called 焼き飯(やきめし)
めちゃくちゃ(に) na-adj. insanely
美味(うま)い i-adj. delicious, colloquial. also reads as おいしい
最高(さいこう) n. the best
ばかり p. plentiful of limited thing, compare with だけ
別(べつ)に〜わけじゃない an expression, It doesn't particularly mean that〜
し p. sampling of an action
はずがない はず is a noun to express "certainty". はずがない is certainly not
ぎみ ます-form v. + ぎみ to express tendency
余計な na-adj. unnecessary
全然 adv. usually followed by ない、not at all
なんか n. used to look down on a thing/state that comes before
一本 n. a single decision that comes before.