From the Land of the Rising Sun comes another interesting Kickstarter campaign hoping to capture the hearts – and credit cards – of international backers. If you’ve ever dropped a piece of sushi or gyoza into a dish of soy sauce and ended up with stains on your favorite light-colored shirt, then Kyoto Soy Foam might be a worthy addition to your kitchen cupboard. The patented powder formula, when whipped in a dish with some water, creates a fluffy, splash-proof alternative to your standard shouyu.
Believe it or not, soy sauce of the foamy variety is not a new concept. In Kyoto – Japan’s former imperial capital and, in modern times, its de-facto cultural epicenter – old traditions run deep. Kimono-clad geisha, faces painted a striking white, still roam the streets. Traditional clothing, like kimono, can cost tens of thousands of dollars and are often priceless family heirlooms, so legend has it that soy sauce foam was invented by a considerate chef hoping to protect patrons from stains.
Hiroyuki Imai, president of the company that produces Kyoto Soy Foam since April 2013, tells Tech in Asia that he hopes the product will become an international hit far beyond the confines of Kyoto.
“Kickstarter is the most famous crowdfunding site, so we thought it would help,” he says. “There are a lot of domestic crowdfunding sites in Japanese. However, our purpose is to promote this to international markets, so we didn’t choose them. Ultimately, we’d like to show off our soy foam at Foodex conventions abroad and find overseas distributors.”
Kyoto Soy Foam comes in single-serving packets meant for one or two people. One 10-gram packet of soy foam powder must be combined with two tablespoons of water, whipped in a dish with chopsticks (or shaken in a closed container), and left in the fridge for 30 minutes to produce the desired result. If you were imagining a foam soap-like dispenser, you’re unfortunately out of luck.
“If you wanted to use a foam dispenser, we’d have to add some chemical ingredients,” explains Imai. “That might end up being bad for your health. Our current formula is used with a special mix of starch – the best solution for keeping the bubbles. The foam actually keeps overnight, but we don’t use any preservatives, so it won’t last for a month or longer like your typical bottle of soy sauce.”
Because it involves a bit of prep time, Kyoto Soy Foam isn’t meant to be your everyday soy sauce alternative. Imai recommends saving it for special occasions, adding that it puts a unique touch on home-cooked cuisine when entertaining guests.
Despite its much shorter shelf life, Kyoto Soy Foam has one big advantage over standard alternatives that health-conscious consumers will appreciate: low sodium. Run-of-the-mill soy sauces often contain between 15 and 18 percent sodium content, and low sodium varieties have around seven or eight percent. Kyoto Soy Foam contains only five percent.
Kyoto Soy Foam’s Kickstarter campaign, which went live on Saturday, has attracted only six backers and AU$191 (US$180) of its AU$5,000 (US$4,700) goal – but 27 days still remain. A pledge of AU$10 (US$9.40) lands you two packets, but shipping outside of Australia will cost you an extra AU$15 (US$14). Backers who put up AU$500 (US$470) get five packets, an original T-shirt, and a Kobe beef steak dinner in Kyoto (travel costs not included).Editing by Steven Millward