food and drink

Choose your own toaster at the specialty toast restaurant in Tokyo

There’s a lot of freedom and innovation when it comes to dining in Japan. For every Michelin-starred restaurant in Tokyo, there’s an equally impressive place where you can dine with maids, hang out with cats or even watch boys make out.

Now there’s another must-visit eatery to add to Tokyo’s ever-growing list of unique cafes and this time the star of the show is the humble slice of bread. At Centre the Bakery in Ginza, you can choose your own toaster, take it back to your table and enjoy freshly made toast.

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Grated white radish cat spices up traditional Japanese home cooking

Japan has some awesome food pairings: sushi and wasabi, red beans and green tea, and fish and grated white radish. While these food combinations tickle the tastebuds, they’ve actually been eaten for centuries to offset negative health effects and promote healthy digestion. But that doesn’t mean things have to be boring!

One creative twitter user has taken inspiration from their pet cat to show us just how amazing a staple Japanese dish can be. Gone is the obligatory mound of plain, grated radish that sits beside grilled fish dishes and in its place is an adorable white cat lovingly caressing a fishy prize from the sea!

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How to turn plain boiled eggs into adorable freshly hatched baby chickens

We’ve seen some impressive kyaraben, or character bentos, over the years from clever cooks around the world, but for most of us the time and creative skill required to replicate the cute designs means our own lunches are destined to remain plain and boring by comparison.

Finally, we’ve found a fast and easy way to dress up any meal, and all it involves is adding a cute boiled egg to the mix. Even better, all it takes is just four quick steps to bring these cute chicks to life! Say goodbye to dull lunches because we’ll show you how it’s done after the jump.

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【TBT】Enjoy latte art at home with cute marshmallow cats!

From colourful anime designs to awesome 3-D creations, exciting things are going on in the drinkable art world of Japan. Now, there’s a new trend that’s melting our hearts: latte art in adorable take-home designs. Created by a marshmallow company in Nagano Prefecture, the range includes cute cats and fluffy cat paws that gradually dissolve into 2-D latte artworks. The only skill you’ll need for these is an ability to stand the cuteness!

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These awesome university dining hall breakfasts only cost 100 yen

When was the last time you spent 100 yen (US$.98) on breakfast and felt satisfied? Sure, your dollar menu Sausage McMuffin tasted good, but after hitting your stomach like a greasy, calorie-laden brick, did it really keep you going until lunch? I thought not. Prepare to be jealous (and perhaps say “OC desu!“) of the following parade of filling breakfasts purchased at Japanese university dining halls, each for an unbelievable 100 yen.

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Sushi train restaurant serves up caramel banana sushi and caramel mayonnaise corn sushi!

Starting from today, sushi train chain restaurant Kura-zushi will be serving up two incredibly unique, limited-edition delicacies. Thanks to a sweet collaboration with Morinaga Milk Caramels, customers will now be able to order caramel banana sushi. And that’s not all – caramel corn mayonnaise sushi will be on the menu too.

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Five places to get awesome limited-edition matcha sweets right now

For many in Japan, the bright green hues and bitter tones of powdered green tea partners perfectly with all things sweet, making for an irresistible dessert flavour. Now, as springtime brings the first tea of the new season, convenience stores and sweet purveyors are releasing limited-edition matcha, or powdered green tea, desserts. We take a look at five of the most popular finds that Twitter users in Japan can’t wait to get their hands on. Read More

Enjoy a view of Mt Fuji from anywhere in the world with these new ice souvenirs

Ever since Mt Fuji earned World Heritage status in 2013, designers and artists have been marking the occasion with a flurry of creative merchandise featuring the famous landmark. The latest product to hit shelves shows the celebrations are continuing well into 2014, this time with moulded ice mountains that sit perfectly in your favourite drink! The attention to detail is particularly impressive, with the concentrated tip of ice perfectly resembling the famous snow-covered peak of Mt Fuji.

We take a look at the unique mould that makes them and see why this is one of Japan’s latest must-have souvenirs.

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Asahi puts a new twist(er) on draft beer

Japan’s most popular alcoholic drink is beer—and now it’s easier than ever to serve perfectly! True to form for a country known for automation, Japanese brewer Asahi has released the Tornado: a machine that automatically fills cups with beer. Rather than pouring, the spigot connects to the bottom of the specially-formed cup, filling it from the bottom up. As it fills, the foam swirls, resembling a—you guessed it—tornado!

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Celebrate the release of live-action Kiki’s Delivery Service with these limited edition treats!

With the live-action version of Kiki’s Delivery Service set to hit cinemas in Japan on March 1, it’s time for the celebrations and tie-in promotions to commence! Japanese bakery chain, Little Mermaid, is one of the first to step up to the plate, paying homage to the movie with this collection of delightfully cute offerings. Available only for a limited time, the three new baked varieties are named in honour of Kiki, her black cat Jiji, and Ms Osono, Kiki’s mother-figure and resident baker. Can you guess which design is which?

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Suntory to release new beer designed specifically for consumption with Japanese food

There’s been a lot of research into the mystery of umami, the mild, pleasing savoury flavour that’s said to exist at the heart of Japanese cuisine. Often referred to as “the fifth taste”, alongside sweet, sour, salty and bitter, umami was first discovered by a Japanese professor and only officially recognised as a proper scientific term in 1985. Now, almost thirty years later, the delicate flavour is finally set to meet its perfect partner in a beer called Wazen (lit. Japanese meal). Due for release on April 8, the beer is being billed as “the beer for Japanese food”.

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Grated radish art from Japan brings the cute to your favourite dishes

If you’ve been keeping up with the amazing 3-D latte art trends going on in Japan’s barista world right now, then you might want to take a look at their savoury counterparts popping up in grated radish form. Instead of swimming in cups of coffee, these adorable home-made creations are taking dips in winter hot pots and stews. Join us as we take a look at some of the cutest critters on offer, from Ghibli characters to sleeping cats, and see just how easy it is to cook up some edible cuteness at home.

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FamilyMart cancels release of foie gras bento due to complaints over animal cruelty

Popular Japanese convenience store chain FamilyMart has cancelled the release of a foie gras and beef patty bento ready meal due to customer complaints. While news of the cancellation will no doubt please animal rights supporters, some Japanese netizens have opposed the decision, arguing that the consumption of foie gras is no worse than the consumption of beef.

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Love Japanese sake? These 10 breweries recommended by Japanese alcohol enthusiasts will wet your whistle!

There are three requirements for brewing up a perfect batch of Japanese sake: rice, water and cold weather. Now, with many breweries opening their factories for a limited time during the winter months, it’s the ideal time for visitors to Japan to learn more about the national tipple. Tours walk you through the brewing process as it happens, with tips and information often provided by the master brewer, or tōji, himself, followed by a sake tasting to top off the experience. If you’d like to get far away from the well-worn tourist path and into the heart of some fantastic drinking experiences, we’ve got the list for you.

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Japanese Christmas sweets to make at home!

With Santa filling his sack and preparing for the annual world tour, pâtisseries and chocolate stores around Japan are marking the occasion with all sorts of cute and delicious dedications to the jolly, red-suited fellow. Now you can join in the fun no matter where you are, with these adorable Christmas treats to make at home. You won’t believe how quick and simple these sweets are!

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Make chocolate from cocoa beans with this new chocolate making kit!

If you’re a chocolate lover, then you probably know something about the humble cocoa bean. But what does a cocoa bean actually look like? And how does it become a smooth, delicious piece of chocolate?

Now there’s a simple kit to answer all your questions. Even better, it promises to take you from bean to chocolate in a matter of hours. We take a step-by-step look at the process and discover what it takes to create a little piece of chocolate heaven.

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Specialist French fry stand “And the Friet” opening today in Tokyo

If you’ve ever yearned for an authentic potato chip in Tokyo, then it’s time to get excited because specialist french fry shop, “And the Friet”, is set to open in the Hiroo district today!

The Belgian-style stand will offer six types of cut, half a dozen potato varieties including a Belgian variety flown in especially, and a choice of seasonal dips and sauces. It’s time to get your friet on!

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Giant rubber duck arrives in Osaka!

Rubber ducks invoke a sense of bath-time fun and childhood wonder no matter how old we get. Their bright colours and kind expressions are so pleasing that one artist has super-sized the fun by creating giant, inflatable versions that travel around the world.

One of these has recently taken up temporary residence in Nakanoshima, Osaka, where it will be appearing for one week only. To add to the excitement, a local hotel is serving up limited numbers of ‘rubber duck plates’ featuring the cutest rice creation you’ve ever seen!

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These doughnuts from Hokkaido are unbear-ably cute!

A long time ago, in a place quite far, far away, there was an area of Japan so remote that the indigenous people called it sir etok; literally the end of the earth. Known today as Shiretoko, the peninsula at the northeastern tip of Hokkaido remains a place of untouched beauty, traversed by a unique population of brown bears.

So what does a visitor to the end of the earth bring back to the rest of civilisation as a reminder of the beauty and the bear? Given that live bears don’t act kindly to being captured, a cute alternative has popped up in miniature, edible form. Wrapped in a cosy doughnut ball, these little cubs are flying off the shelves like hotcakes. We bought a variety pack to take a closer look at what makes these adorable souvenirs so popular.

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Onigiri taste test: Which convenience store will win?

Walk into any convenience store in Japan and you’ll see the staples: magazines, drinks, snacks, and the ubiquitous onigiri. And when it comes to onigiri, the world-famous rice ball wrapped in seaweed, one of the hands-down most popular is the salmon variety, with salty, sweet, succulent flakes of orange salmon at its centre.

So which convenience store sells the best salmon onigiri? We decided to conduct a taste test in our offices to declare a winner, pitting the top three – 7-Eleven, Lawson and Family Mart – against each other in a battle befitting the rice ball’s feudal origins. With a set of scales, the slice of a knife and a merchant tester, we begin.

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