It's an addage we're used to: fresh is better than frozen. Fresh pizzas are better than frozen, freshly picked raspberries preferable to their mushy defrosted counterparts. Add natto, the fermented soy beans that were the subject of our recent blog post, to that list.

We had been settling for years on the frozen stuff — still delicious, of course — but it was Richard, a commenter on the post, who pulled us out of our natto ennui and got us looking for the good stuff. Now we've found it:

Japan Traditional Foods Inc., located in the Sebastopol, California, 2 hours north of San Francisco, prepares Tezukuri Natto, sold in local Nijiya and Mitsuwa markets. What's the difference between fresh and frozen? The taste is milder and the beans have more texture. The beans are peppered with white amino acids, bringing the same crunch of a finely aged Comté.

Having never reached extreme heat or cold, the health benefits of natto should all be there. It's high in protein, Vitamin K and pyrazine, which is said to reduce the likelihood of blood clots. The good bacteria, similar to those found in kombucha and kimchi, are alive and kicking.

And we were in luck. There was a sale on the item at our local Nijiya Market on Sawtelle because it's approaching its expiration date, which comes four weeks after production. For $1.99, half the price of its regular $3.99 price tag, we were mixing and munching on the good stuff.

With a little phone reconnaissance, we've discovered the store locations where you can find fresh Tezukuri natto for yourself:

Nijiya Market Sawtelle: Now on sale for $1.99, new shipment arriving later this week priced at its regular $3.99. 2130 Sawtelle Blvd. #105, West Los Angeles; (310) 575-3300.

Nijiya Market Torrance: Priced at $3.99. 2121 West 182nd Street, Torrance; (310) 366-7200.

Mitsuwa Torrance: Priced at $3.99. 21515 Western Ave,

Torrance; (310) 782-0335.

Mitsuwa San Gabriel: Priced at $3.99. 515 W. Las Tunas Dr.

San Gabriel; (714) 557-6699.

Mitsuwa Santa Monica: Priced at $3.69. 3760 Centinela Ave,

Los Angeles; (310) 398-2113.

Nijiya Rolling Hills, Marukai Little Tokyo, and Murakai Costa Mesa do not carry Tezukuri natto.

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