Chiitara vs Cheese Tara : Japanese Fish Cheese Snacks

Have you ever heard of Otsumami? or do you know the meaning of this Japanese word?

Actually, we Japanese call the snack foods eaten as accompaniments for alcoholic drinks “Otsumami (おつまみ)“. In short, the Japanese term refers to finger foods and nibbles.

When it comes to common Japanese Otsumami snacks, especially Kaki no Tane (Kameda crisps) and Kamaboko are widely enjoyed in Japan, which are a classic spicy rice cracker and a traditional fish cake respectively.

In addition to these, there are another 2 Otsumami snacks that shouldn’t be forgotten, which are Japanese fish cheese snacks, “Chiitara (チータラ)” and “Cheese Tara (チーズ鱈)”.

Natori Chiitara & Cheese Tara

Chiitara and Cheese Tara

Chiitara (Chitara) and Cheese Tara are not only my favorite Otsumami snacks, but these Japanese fish cheese snacks are also standard finger foods for alcoholic drinks in Japan.

Chiitara and Cheese Tara Japanese Fish Cheese Snacks

Both the snacks are produced and sold by a major Japanese food company “Natori (なとり)” and consist of a stick of process cheese sandwiched between two thin strips of dried fish paste. As you can see in the photo, they look like the same thing.

Cheese Tara

Chiitara (チータラ)

As for “Chiitara (チータラ)”, the snack name can be divided into 2 words, “Chii (チー : Chee)” and “Tara (タラ)”. The former word, “Chii (チー)” stands for cheese, while the latter, “Tara (タラ, or 鱈)” means codfish in Japanese.

Natori Chiitara Fish Cheese Snacks

As you can see from the meaning of the Japanese word, the thin dried fish paste for Chiitara snacks is made using codfish.

Cheese Tara (チーズ鱈)

Actually, the Chiitara snack has its roots in “Cheese Tara (チーズ鱈)”, the Japanese fish cheese snack created and released in 1982 by Natori.

Natori Cheese Tara Fish Cheese Snacks

The Cheese Tara snack has been widely loved in Japan as a long-selling Otsumami for decades, but what is the difference between Cheese Tara and Chiitara?

The Difference between Chiitara and Cheese Tara

The Japanese fish cheese snacks, Cheese Tara and Chiitara are very similar snack foods.

Natori Cheese Tara Ingredients

However, according to the ingredient list, the dried fish paste for Cheese Tara snacks is only made with codfish,

Natori Chiitara Ingredients

whereas the thin fish paste of Chiitara consists of codfish and other fish meat.

Besides, this Natori’s Cheese Tara contains 13% of Parmigiano Reggiano known as the king of Italian cheeses and has a luxurious feel compared to the Chiitara snack.

Because of these, the Cheese Tara is somewhat pricy compared to the Chiitara. But I think there is not much difference in taste and texture between the 2 Japanese fish cheese snacks.

Where to Buy the Japanese Fish Cheese Snacks

Natori’s Chiitara and Cheese Tara snacks are available at many supermarkets and convenience store in Japan as many Japanese love eating these Otsumami snacks with beer.

In recent years, the Japanese fish cheese snacks can also be bought on some online shopping sites even if you don’t live in Japan.

Natori Chiitara Otsumami Snack


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. I want to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures and trivia.

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