Vice Food covered World Sumo Champion Byamba and his "chanko-nabe" diet.

Byamba is working hard to bring the authentic and popular Japanese chanko-nabe cuisine to Americans. Most people here are now familiar with Japanese dishes like sushi, miso soup, and tempura, but few Americans know about chanko-nabe.

Chanko-nabe (or "chanko") is a very hearty stew, that has served as the staple diet of sumo wrestlers for centuries. It is also a popular dish for Japanese people in general, because of it's tasty and nourishing qualities. There are many, many varieties of chanko, and in fact, some districts near sumo teams have block after block of chanko restaurants, each run by retired sumo wrestlers, and each serving their own house specialties.

All chanko-nabe dishes consist of a rich broth, filled with high-protein foods and healthy vegetables. Ingredients are always prepared fresh, with meat and vegetables being chopped up just seconds before going into the broth. You must use only fresh ingredients in chanko! Proteins can include chicken, pork, fish, meatballs, eggs, tofu, and more. Almost any veggies you can think of go well in chanko -- common varieties include green onions, onions, carrots, daikon radish, burdock root, various Japanese-style leaves and roots, various cabbages, all types of mushrooms, and more. Each type of chanko has its own flavorings -- from miso to soy to spicy.

Chanko-nabe can actually be a healthy cornerstone of everyone's diet. High in protein, vitamins, and minerals, prepared fresh, and free of artificial preservatives, chanko is truly a power food. It can be accompanied by Japanese side dishes, pickled vegetables, and bowls of rice or noodles, to add some carbs.

As one of the most experienced chanko cooks in the United States, Byamba still enjoys making the stew regularly. He used to cook chanko-nabe every day, for 5 years in Japanese Pro Sumo, and he doesn't plan to ever stop.


Byambajav Ulambayar

1984, Mongolian-born
6'1", 360 lbs
4-time World Sumo Champion
5 years Pro Sumo Experience

Mongolian-born Byambajav Ulambayar competed in sports since he was a child. By age 15, “Byamba” had captured national junior champion titles in judo, sambo, and Mongolian wrestling (the national sport).

At that time, the retired Japanese Grand Champion, Onokuni, visited Mongolia, and held tryouts across the country, scouting for a protege. After testing dozens of young men, he invited only one – Byamba – to join his professional sumo team in Japan ...

Byamba entered professional sumo with no knowledge of the sport, the Japanese language, the food, or the culture. Life was not easy, but young "Daishochi" (Byamba's pro sumo fighting name) adapted quickly, and at age 16, he won a divisional championship in professional sumo.... More