No one said the most important meal of the day can’t also be the cheapest.
For companies in the fast food hamburger business, there’s no way of getting around the fact that they’re in competition with McDonald’s. So instead of trying to tiptoe around the situation, Burger King Japan has decided to try to tackle its rival head-on with the new Big King 4.0 sandwich, which Burger King has just introduced to the Japanese market.
If you’ve got burgers on the brain, the name Big King no doubt reminds you of McDonald’s Big Mac, and that’s fine with Burger King. As a matter of fact, thanks to an unusual promotion going on right now, Burger King will give you a discount on a Big King if you bring in a receipt showing you recently bought a Big Mac, or, even stranger, if you bring in the actual McDonald’s hamburger itself.
In short order, it seems we at RocketNews24 have found ourselves not only unwitting experts in fast foodology – what, with our near-constant coverage of McDonald’s new pie flavors and Lotteria’s most recent forays into madness – but we’ve also added quite a few notches into our cheap, all-you-can-eat yakiniku deals belt (which doesn’t even fit us anymore, if we’re being honest).
But, recently, our resident yakiniku fiend, Mr. Sato, reported he may just have found the cheap all-you-can-eat yakiniku restaurant to rule them all.
One of the upsides to being a little kid is that you can get presents even on someone else’s birthday. But like getting your food pre-cut into bite-sized pieces and having older people carry you around when you’re tired, you can only expect to receive bags of party favors up to a certain age.
A rare exception to this, though, is the birthday of Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Harland Sanders. To celebrate Sanders’ birthday, KFC Japan is offering all-you-can eat fried chicken, but the unlimited bird is just part of the chain’s generosity on that special day.
Freshness Burger is a well-known fast food burger chain in Japan. A lesser-known fact would be that they’ve gone a little gourmet and also have a chain of cheap tapas-like wine bars called FreBar, which offers arguably even better value than Freshness Burger.
For just 500 yen (US$4) you can have as much cured ham (prosciutto) as you like in an hour courtesy of their current promotion, called nama hamu tabehodai in Japanese. Mr Sato, RocketNews24 Japan writer and food adventurer, couldn’t pass up this offer, but just how many plates could he get through?
We like to think of ourselves as pretty capable bargain hunters. After all, we still think back fondly on the day we got a car for 980 yen (US$8.25) and the night we got liquored up with unlimited sake for 3,000 yen (thankfully that wasn’t all within the same 24-hour period).
But as attractive as those deals were, we think we’ve found something even more enticing: a house in a coastal town in Japan that’s completely free.
A lot of bars and restaurants in Japan offer special deals where you can drink as much as you like for a certain amount of time, usually about two hours. The downside is these packages often don’t give you access to the full beverage menu. While beer and basic cocktails are generally included, if you’re in the mood for sake, you’re generally restricted to whatever the house brand is.
So we were excited when we heard about a new watering hole opening up in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro neighborhood that lets you pick from 100 different types of sake for its all-you-can-drink plan, and even better, there’s no time limit.
It seems like we’ve been spending every spare moment we have snatching up fukubukuro, the lucky bag bundles that shoppers in Japan buy at New Year’s without knowing what’s inside. As a matter of fact, by the time we stopped and took count, we’d grabbed eight different fukubukuro from cafés near our office.
As a result, we’re pretty much stocked up on coffee for the next couple of weeks. Honestly, we’ve got so much we’d be happy to pour you a cup, if only the RocketNews24 offices had a visitors’ lounge. But since it doesn’t, instead, we’re going to give you the information you need to pick the best café lucky bag for yourself, as we present the RocketNews24 Ultimate Café Fukubukuro Ranking 2015.
Whether you’re coming to Japan as a tourist or a new resident, getting into the island nation usually means taking a plane. With luggage space at a premium, odds are you haven’t packed more than two or three pairs of shoes, which is fine for a running start in the country. With all the walking involved in public-transportation-embracing Japan, though, wear and tear are going to set in before long, and you’ll find yourself in need of a new pair of kicks.
Odds are, though, that you didn’t come all the way to Japan to blow your travel budget on new shoes. If you’re just getting started as a working professional here, you’re probably also a little light on cash. So to keep your feet comfortable, outfit stylish, and wallet happy, today we’re taking a trip to one of Tokyo’s best-kept secret bargains, the Tokyo Shoe Distribution Center, to pick up a selection of footwear at less than 990 yen (US$8.40) per pair.
Sometimes, less is more. For example, earlier this year we heard the happy news that Denny’s in Japan was offering all-you-can-eat pancakes. But as enticing as that deal was, there’s an easy way to improve on an unlimited supply of pancakes, and that’s by losing that “pan” restrictor.
So when we heard a popular Japanese bakery has an all-you-can-eat cake deal, we were ecstatic, and then we were out the door to try it for ourselves.
I’ve never really understood the rationale behind the name of the Japanese discount megastore chain Don Quijote. Tweaked spelling aside, it’s clearly supposed to be a reference to the character from the 16th century Miguel de Cervantes novel, but what does a mentally imbalanced would-be knight errant have to do with rock bottom prices, chaotic store layouts with hand-drawn signs everywhere, and a corporate mascot who’s a penguin wearing a Santa cap?
Maybe it’s got something to do with the word “quixotic,” which describes a humorously strong commitment to lofty ideals and helpfulness. Actually, that would be a pretty apt description of one of the store’s most unique policies: keeping a box of change at the register for customers to grab coins out of and use when paying for their purchases.
While it may not have the hippest image in the U.S., Domino’s Pizza has built a fanbase for itself in Japan with a string of unique promotions and weird humor. So we’re sure plenty of people were sad to hear that on October 26, Domino’s Japan is closing down its online store where you can order pizzas for delivery or pickup.
Luckily, this has turned out to be just another one of the chain’s quirky jokes, since it’s also opening a new online store on October 27. In other words, it’s just a website redesign, but in addition to serving up plenty of tongue-in-cheek drama, Domino’s is also offering discounts for customers who play along with the joke and say goodbye in a variety of ways.
For a lot of travelers, staying in a Japanese-style inn is high on their list of things they want to do in the country, and with good reason. The austere elegance of traditional accommodations provides a uniquely soothing atmosphere, giving you a connection to a culture thousands of years old even as it provides the opportunity for a quiet moment of self-reflection.
What’s not nearly so relaxing, though, are the rates many inns charge, which can run to hundreds of dollars per person in mandatory packages that include overly extravagant meals. But if you’re looking for a place to stay that doesn’t go overboard on either the amenities or prices, the hostel K’s House will provide you a 100-year-old roof over your head, friendly service, and even a natural onsen hot spring bath, all for as little as 2,950 yen (US$27) a night, or, if you don’t mind a few hours’ work, nothing at all.
One of the most common questions that comes up about life in Japan is, “Is it expensive?” Often, the answer depends on a number of factors. For example, is beer expensive? Well, if you want to go hopping from bar to bar, where you’ll get charged a separate cover at each, then yeah, you’re probably going to find your wallet hurting before your liver.
On the other hand, at most izakaya, the pub-like restaurants that serve a wide variety of alcohol and food, shelling out an extra 2,000 yen (US $19.80) or so will allow you to upgrade your meal to include unlimited booze. It can save you some serious cash if you’re looking to do some serious drinking, with the only downside being that most come with a two-hour time limit.
That is, unless you sign up for a plan that gives you unlimited beer for an entire year, like one restaurant in Tokyo is offering.
With beautiful natural scenery, delicious food, and an unhurried atmosphere, Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido is one of the country’s most popular vacation spots. There’s one big drawback, though, which is that airfare to and from Hokkaido can eat up a big part of your travel budget, leaving you less cash to spend on a hotel with nice amenities or local delicacies like fresh salmon roe and scallops.
Recently, though, we found a hotel in Hokkaido that offers it all, with soft beds, all-you-can-eat seafood, an all-night hot spring, and even a price that makes it a very affordable luxury.
In many ways, Japan’s love hotels are a brilliant concept, offering a room with discreet staff, simple amenities, and large beds for couples looking for a place to physically and nakedly express their feelings for one another. There is one sticky point to utilizing them, however.
People generally find themselves in need of a love hotel when overcome by a spontaneous wave of passion, so they don’t usually book ahead. And while a hand-in-hand dash to the love hotel district can be a bit of heady fun, finding a place to do the deed is sort of a time-sensitive objective. Spending too much time walking around searching for a hotel with a vacancy can put a damper on the mood and/or contribute to your sobering up and realizing that maybe it isn’t a good idea to sleep with your boss’ nubile 23-year-old daughter, no matter how willing she says she is.
Such problems may soon come to be a thing of the past, though, with a new smartphone app that can help you find and book a love hotel in as little as 10 seconds, plus, right now, even help you out with the bill.
Man, doesn’t that pile of Kentucky Fried Chicken look enticing? Sure, it may not be the most sophisticated meal, and there’s really no way you can twist the nutritional facts to call it particularly healthy, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a purer, simpler gastronomic joy than a bucket of fried chicken.
But you know what makes the above image all the more beautiful? The large-font Japanese text smack dab in the middle of it, the part that says tabehodai, or, in English, “all you can eat.”
Japan has an image as an expensive country, but with a little searching, you can find some pretty good deals. For example, the other day I went out and got a haircut, bought a shirt, and had a pretty good sushi lunch, and none of those three expenditures cost me more than a thousand yen (US $9.80).
Still, my bargain hunting skills can’t compete with those of our Japanese-language correspondent Go, who with 980 yen just bought himself a car.
Japan is a great place to be a drinker, and not just because of the excellent public transportation and lack of social stigma about enjoying a beer in the park. The selection is also fantastic, as the country produces dozens of brands of tasty beer, sake, and shochu.
If you’re still looking for more variety, Japan also makes a plum wine called umeshu, which has a uniquely rich sweetness. Umeshu isn’t as quite as prevalent as other kinds of alcohol, though, so if you’re in need of a primer, we found a restaurant in Tokyo that’ll let you sample as many varieties of the drink as you like during a two-hour stay for just 1,500 yen (US$14.70).
Sake is often referred to as “rice wine.” Some would argue the term is misleading, since unlike wine, sake is brewed, but Japan’s traditional spirit does have something in common with the world’s favorite grape-based alcoholic beverage. As with wine, depending on the ingredients and exact production process, two different types of sake can have very different flavors.
This can make searching for one that suits your palate a complex, if not unpleasant, task. There’s also the fact that most of Japan’s best-tasting sake is produced far outside of its major urban centers, which is why we were surprised and thrilled to find a restaurant in downtown Tokyo offering a sampler of sake from distant Akita Prefecture for just 500 yen (US$4.90). Our excitement only grew when we found out that the deal is also all you can drink.