food

Nightmare food – Artist creates shockingly colorful portraits out of junk food

Nightmare food – Artist creates shockingly colorful portraits out of junk food

British artist James Ostrer created a series of artwork titled Junk Food Portraits by layering amounts of all of our most familiar junk foods on models. The result is at once stunning yet unnerving. While these surreal images are indeed vidid, we have to admit they made us think: is this really thing kind of thing we ought to be putting into our bodies? No wonder these portraits caught the eye of so many Japanese net users!

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Genius dishes can be molded freely to hold whatever you want

Genius dishes can be molded freely to hold whatever you want

I’m not really the most organized person around; my desk looks like someone who hates me with a dark passion sneaks in every night just to sweep papers around and knock stuff over. So I’ve never really had much interest in or need for one of those little random odds-and-ends plates to hold trinkets (the floor does a pretty good job of that, for me).

But, if you are an organized person, have a lot of trinkets or just like having cool stuff around to decorate with, you’re probably going to love these awesome dishes that can be molded into any shape your heart desires and returned to their original state over and over again.

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Back in Japan by popular demand: Ice cream that looks exactly like a roasted sweet potato

Back in Japan by popular demand: Ice cream that looks exactly like a roasted sweet potato

Come autumn, the droning sound of an old man singing about yaki-imo (roasted sweet potatoes) fills the streets of Japan. A chilly weather treat that is usually bought from the back of a truck specially equipped with hot stones, yaki-imo is a fall favorite enjoyed by people of all ages. But as delicious as it may be – if internet raving is anything to go by – the yaki-imo ice cream made by the Imuraya Confectionery Company is even better than the real stuff…and it looks and tastes exactly like a roasted sweet potato!

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【TBT】Who needs a cherry on top? Osaka café crowns its parfaits with cake

【TBT】Who needs a cherry on top? Osaka café crowns its parfaits with cake

Tokyo’s restaurants may have more Michelin stars, but for many Japanese foodies, the real culinary action is in Osaka. Particularly if your tastes run more towards good honest grub than haute cuisine, Japan’s second largest city is the place to be.

The people of Osaka enjoy a good meal so much that they coined the phrase kuidaore, to eat until you collapse. But even with this image firmly entrenched in our minds, the city has found a new way to surprise us with its gastronomic decadence.

On a recent day out in Osaka, our reporter stopped by a café and ordered a truly hard-core parfait. It wasn’t that the parfait was so big, and no, it didn’t contain any shocking ingredients. What blew our minds about this parfait was its topping.

It was a slice of cake, and it was so big it wasn’t even trying to fit into the glass.

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Blown all your cash on anime? New restaurant in Akihabara has pasta for less than two bucks

Blown all your cash on anime? New restaurant in Akihabara has pasta for less than two bucks

With the highest concentration of anime and video game specialty stores on the planet, it’s pretty easy to go over-budget spending a day in Akihabara. But while some otaku might claim that Japanese animation is their lifeblood, eventually everyone needs to eat something.

So for everyone with a crying wallet and a grumbling stomach, a new restaurant has just arrived in the neighborhood, serving pasta to-go, starting at just 190 yen (US$1.88).

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Make a map of Japan in your oven with these intricate cookie cutters

Make a map of Japan in your oven with these intricate cookie cutters

Think you can identify all the prefectures of Japan? Yeah, neither can we. But that’s okay because now with the help of this impressively accurate cookie cutter set, you can study and eat a map of Japan at the same time. Mmmm, knowledge.

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Great hotel in Hokkaido has hot spring, all you-can-eat seafood for under 10,000 yen a person

Great hotel in Hokkaido has hot spring, all you-can-eat seafood for under 10,000 yen a person

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.

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Check out this confused baby posing as a salad ingredient

Check out this confused baby posing as a salad ingredient

You know what’s apparently really popular right now? That Pizza Cats thing from Pizza Hut Japan. It’s a bunch of cats unwillingly forced into cute kitty-size Pizza Hut employee uniforms doing what cats do while someone films it and tries to stifle laughter. It’s all over the Internet.

Well, at least one Netizen has decided to get on the “reluctant sentient beings doing things they don’t normally do” bandwagon by placing a not-having-it-at-all and obviously confused baby in a salad bowl with a bunch of other salad ingredients because… INTERNET!

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Chinese chef dies after being bitten by the severed head of a cobra he was cooking

Chinese chef dies after being bitten by the severed head of a cobra he was cooking

Snakes are a delicacy in many parts of the world and among them the Indochinese spitting cobra is held in high regard for both is scarcity and the alleged health benefits it holds to those who consume it.

For the people who prepare the cobras for consumption, however, it can be a completely different story. One chef in China’s Guangdong Province recently lost his life while dressing an Indochinese spitting cobra to serve to customers in a soup. Authorities are ruling this incident to be a freak accident. “Freak” is the operative word here, as the snake that bit the chef had reportedly had its head cut off several minutes earlier.

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Foodies in Japan can’t stop freaking out over how good peaches and mozzarella tastes

Foodies in Japan can’t stop freaking out over how good peaches and mozzarella tastes

Twitter and Instagram has been buzzing about a new dish to hit Japanese kitchens: sweet peaches mixed with mozzarella cheese. And based on the reviews written by social-media-loving cooks in Japan, it’s the greatest dish in the history of food. Let’s take a closer look at how to rustle up this interesting grub and read some glowing reviews.

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Not quite ready for ochazuke, rice with green tea? You might want to try using cola instead

Not quite ready for ochazuke, rice with green tea? You might want to try using cola instead

In Japanese cuisine, one of the easiest dishes to prepare is ochazuke, or a bowl of rice mixed with tea. While you can spruce it up with things such as plum, salmon, or spicy cod roe, the rice and tea are really all you need.

But while almost all Japanese people enjoy an occasional ochazuke session, some foreigners find it a little unnatural to pour what’s generally a beverage over their food. The whole thing becomes even less attractive if you’re not a particularly big fan of the Japanese green tea that’s normally used.

So if you’re interested in gradually easing yourself into ochazuke, maybe you’d prefer to start with a less astringent beverage, like cola.

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We try colorful macarons at a McDonald’s in Shanghai

We try colorful macarons at a McDonald’s in Shanghai

McDonald’s joints all around the world have some of the most interesting items. There’s of course Chicken Curry Rice in Thailand, American vintage burgers in Japan, and ramen at one McDonald’s in the US (of all places!). But we’ve never seen anything quite this fancy at a fast food restaurant anywhere, so we sent one of our reporters to check out the colorful macarons at a McDonald’s in Shanghai.

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Anna and Elsa ready to visit homes in January with Frozen New Year’s osechi meals

Anna and Elsa ready to visit homes in January with Frozen New Year’s osechi meals

In Japan, it’s customary to celebrate the New Year with osechi, meals made of a large number of painstakingly prepared and beautifully presented small dishes. Traditionally, women would prepare all of the osechi for their families ahead of time, setting aside New Year’s Day itself for feasting leisurely.

Of course, the price for that relaxation on January 1 is a frantic bout of cooking at the end of December. Hoping to avoid that, more and more households have begun buying pre-made osechi, either to replace or supplement a smaller quantity of home-cooked food.

Mass-produced osechi doesn’t come cheap, though, so we imagine some people might scoff at the idea of buying Frozen osechi, until you realize that it’s Frozen with a capital F, as in Disney’s runaway computer-animated hit.

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Seriously? Olive oil!? Turn ice cream into gourmet gelato with this easy but fattening trick

Seriously? Olive oil!? Turn ice cream into gourmet gelato with this easy but fattening trick

When I was a kid, I used to love using a spoon to whip my ice cream into a fluffy consistency. While it significantly sped up the ice cream’s melt time, I found the new texture I’d created a lot more agreeable than the spoon-bending hardness of the straight-from-the-freezer stuff. It never occurred to my sugar-addled, 10-year-old mind that in the process of whipping up my ice cream, I was actually making a sort of off-brand homemade gelato.

But now that I’ve grown older and my palate has matured, I still enjoy the ice cream whipping trick, but don’t do it as frequently as I used to. There’s just something missing. To my 30-year-old taste buds that have known such exotic delicacies as fugu, unagi, foie gras, street tacos and meatball subs, it’s just mushy ice cream.

But now, thanks to this secret trick we found on the Japanese Interwebs, I’ve rekindled my love for Poor Man’s Gelato.

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What’s better than sushi? Ramen sushi!

What’s better than sushi? Ramen sushi!

If you look closely at the photo above, you’ll see that inside this sushi roll there’s no rice. Instead, it’s filled with the goodness of instant noodles!

The lifeblood of students, singles and people who just don’t have time to cook, the humble noodle has been used in many ways over the years and now it’s seeing a new dawn, wrapped in a roll and plated up as sushi. And did I mention this baby is wrapped in bacon?

We’ll give you the easy, step-by-step recipe after the jump, but purists be warned: the following images may disturb. Everybody else: come on in and take a seat!

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Lupin III comes full circle as live-action cast turns into anime characters for bread line

Lupin III comes full circle as live-action cast turns into anime characters for bread line

Since I am in no way a gentleman thief, I can only guess as to what that lifestyle must be like. I imagine though, that staying one step ahead of the law means a lot of meals on the run, so it makes sense that Japan Railway stations are rolling out a new batch of baked goods endorsed by anime’s most roguish criminal mastermind, Lupin III.

The timing no doubt has something to do with the upcoming release of the live-action Lupin III movie. Even purists who scoff at the shift away from animation might want to check out the Lupin breads though, as their packages feature redone anime designs for the cast based on the actors portraying them in the new film.

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We take Doraemon home and eat him (in cream bun form)【Taste test】

We take Doraemon home and eat him (in cream bun form)【Taste test】

To get an idea of just what a huge cultural icon Doraemon is in Japan, all you have to do is take a look at the theatrical versions of the anime robot cat’s adventures. The first Doraemon movie was released in 1980, and a new film in the franchise has hit Japanese theatres like clockwork every year since, with the lone exception of 2005. Perhaps in apology for the tiny break in the streak, Doraemon’s producers gave us two films this year. The second just premiered this month, and even though Stand by Me Doraemon is the 35th movie in the series, it still breaks new ground by being the first to be computer-animated.

CG isn’t the only new frontier the beloved character is challenging though, as he’s going one more place he’s never been before: our bellies, in the form of the Doraemon cream bun.

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Japanese mother creates beautiful, educational bentos that resemble Japan’s prefectures

Japanese mother creates beautiful, educational bentos that resemble Japan’s prefectures

Making eye-catching bento lunch boxes is a big deal in Japan. Walk into any bookstore and you’re bound to find a least a dozen books teaching you how to make adorable characters out of rice and seaweed. Amble by any off-campus elementary school event where the kids are required to bring a lunch from home, and you’ll hear squeals of “KAWAIII!!!” as someone’s mom most definitely made Pikachu out of cheese. But while most bento feature cute vocaloids or giant titans, this mother’s lunches have an educational twist. Let’s take a tour of Japan’s prefectures made out of food by talented mother and Twitter user, Sasariri.

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Service with a tear? MOS Burger branch says hello with tales of loneliness, sleepless nights

Service with a tear? MOS Burger branch says hello with tales of loneliness, sleepless nights

Among Japanese fast food chains, MOS Burger tries to position itself as being just a little more upscale than its rivals. Sure, the prices are a little higher, but the ingredients taste a little fresher, their customer service a little better, and if your order isn’t to go, they’ll serve your drink in a glass instead of a paper cup.

A lot of MOS branches even add a personal touch by putting a blackboard in front of their entrance with a new message written on it each day. The one in my neighborhood, for example, usually has some sort of seasonal or daily greeting like, “There’s a fireworks festival tonight. We hope everyone who’s going has a great time!”

But things aren’t so chipper in Kawasaki, where the staff of one MOS Burger have decided to use their board to let everyone passing by know about their physical and romantic ailments.

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Last night, a fast food delivery guy gave me 10 yen and it made my day

Last night, a fast food delivery guy gave me 10 yen and it made my day

After living here for any decent length of time, it’s easy to grow tired of the seemingly endless slew of blogs either singing Japan’s praises or celebrating its weirdness. But the thing is, there’s a reason so many of them exist. While many of the claims bloggers in Japan make are somewhat exaggerated or simply rehashes of the same experiences foreigners arriving in the country decades earlier had, there are nevertheless times when living in Japan can make you realise that the country is actually quite special.

Just last night, for example, I found myself the recipient of a tiny but powerful gesture that made me feel – after more than eight years of living here – that Japan is pretty damn cool sometimes.

Last night, dear reader, a fast food company gave me 10 yen. That’s about US$0.09.

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