As of July 1, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare banned Japan’s restaurants from serving rebā-sashi — beef liver sashimi — a raw dish popular at yakiniku restaurants. It was only a matter of time, of course, before someone began promoting a substitute. After all, Japan is the country that brought the world kanikama — fake crabmeat.
Enter Mannan Rebā. It’s made from sheets of konnyaku (arrowroot jelly), a traditional gelatinous foodstuff commonly found in oden. Haisky, the Kagawa Prefecture konnyaku manufacturer behind the product, introduced the imitation liver last fall — before the ban was announced but after the deadly food poisonings that prompted it.
It seems to be hitting the spot. The company has so far sold over 300,000 packs of Mannan Rebā — over half of them since the ban kicked in.