food

Beyond bento — Amazing laser-cut seaweed makes its mark on the artistic world

Lunch-making parents in Japan have long been infusing their midday meals with fun characters designed to please the eye along with the taste buds. A common ingredient used for detail and decoration is the humble dried seaweed sheet called nori. The dark color makes it perfect for creating lines and patterns, and since it comes in a flat sheet you can cut out some fairly detailed shapes with a knife. If you quickly browse through some amazing character bento we’ve shared with you before, you’ll see the important role that seaweed plays in their design.

However, it’s not only good in a supporting role; world-renowned seaweed shop Kozen wants to elevate it to a star in the art world! Forget all the other ingredients you might find in a bento, “Nori Art” is all you need to turn your next meal into an unforgettable feast.

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Rice, rice baby! Strains of Japanese rice get turned into cute anime girls on new packaging

Japan likes to think of the food it produces as being the highest-quality in the world, and that goes double for rice. As such, many bags of domestically grown rice are decorated with iconic Japanese imagery, such as a crane, the rising sun, or Mt. Fuji.

But in today’s modern age, there’s no surer visual shorthand for Japan than cute anime girls, which is exactly what you’ll find on these bags of rice from Yamagata Prefecture.

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Step aside, fortune cookies! Here come fortune cat rice crackers from Japan!

Fortune cookies can be sort of anti-climactic, can’t they? Most of the time, that little slip of paper just reminds you of some pearl of wisdom to help you make yourself a better person, instead of giving you the inside information on the future that you really wanted so that you could succeed in life without all that bothersome self-improvement stuff.

On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine anyone being disappointed if they cracked open their snack to find an adorably chubby cat figurine.

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Butter sushi becoming an unlikely hit in Osaka

In Japan, some of the most prized types of sushi are loved by gourmets for their rich flavor. High-quality uni (sea urchin) is decadently creamy, and the premium cuts of tuna are those with extra fat.

But this chain of restaurants in Japan might be offering the richest sushi ever, since the pieces have a pat of butter on them!

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Tokyo’s massive Monster Burger is the combining robot of hamburgers

With Halloween just around the corner, people across Japan are getting ready to transform into all manner of awesome creatures. As a matter of fact, even some restaurants are getting into the spirit with special Halloween menu items, and we found one that’s a genuine monster: Tokyo’s massive Monster Burger, which is actually five burgers combined as one!

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Japanese boxed lunches pulling into France at authentic bento stand opening in Paris station

In just about every major train station in Japan, you’ll find a stand selling boxed lunches called ekiben. A combination of the words eki (“station”) and bento (“boxed lunch”), ekiben serve as a tasty, convenient meal for travelers to dine on as they watch the scenery slip by outside their window.

Given that trains are terrestrial transportation, and that Japan is an island nation, until now you’ve generally had to come to Japan in order to get your hands on authentic station bento. That’s changing soon, though, with the opening of an ekiben stand in a rail station in Paris.

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Breakfast never looked cuter! Character toast, pancakes, doughnuts, burgers and more!【Pics】

If you’re not much of a morning person breakfast can be tricky. Sure, it’s the most important meal of the day and heading out on an empty stomach is never a good idea, but at the same time the temptation of an extra 10, 15, 20 minutes in bed is often too much to resist.

If that’s the dilemma you face every morning, these plates of edible cuteness might just be motivation enough for you to haul your ass out of bed and sit down to a proper breakfast. Generous servings of cute after the break!

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Japanese candy maker announces new “hot cola gum” to meet demand that probably doesn’t exist

Anyone who has tried salty watermelon Pepsi, yogurt-flavored water or whitebait ice cream can tell you that the Japanese love weird flavors. If it’s new and outlandish, the Japanese market wants to get a taste.

I can only assume that’s what confectioner Lotte was banking on with their newest creation, because there surely couldn’t have been that many voices clamoring for hot cola chewing gum!

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The future is here! Celebrate Back to the Future: Part II’s historic day at theme cafes

Do you know what day October 21, 2015 is? It’s the day that Marty and Doc come to the future from 1985! But, sorry Marty, hover boards aren’t quite what they were supposed to be, and we barely made it to five Jaws movies, let alone Jaws 19. One of the only prophecies that may still come true is the Cubs winning the World Series, but even that seems doubtful.

Okay, so Marty might not be overly thrilled with this real version of 2015, but hey, at least he’ll get to go to the limited time “Back to the Future” Cafe if he stops by Hill Valley Ikebukuro in Tokyo.

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Mr. Sato takes our newest reporter to a sushi restaurant, he mistakes it for a love hotel!

It’s been one month since Nakazawa, who’s also a guitarist for two bands, joined the Japanese RocketNews24 team. On a recent day, our veteran reporter Mr. Sato told Nakazawa to follow him as he ventured into the outside world. When Nakazawa asked where they were going, Mr. Sato coolly replied: “To a good place. I’m going to make you happy.”

Not one to argue with a perpetual fan-favorite reporter, especially as a new recruit, Nakazawa obediently agreed.

Two short train rides later, our two adventurers finally arrived at their destination: a collection of bars and other late-night eateries near Tokyo’s Kita-Senju Station. Nakazawa followed Mr. Sato silently until the expert reporter suddenly stopped in his tracks. “We’re here,” Mr. Sato announced. Nakazawa looked up and was shocked to discover that they were standing in front of what looked like a hotel—and not just any hotel, but a LOVE hotel!

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Matcha green tea potato chips coming soon to make snack time in Japan cultured and delicious

Potato chips and matcha green tea seem like the opposite endpoints of the refreshment spectrum. Matcha is a refined, high-class drink meant to be sipped and savored in a quiet moment, whereas potato chips are often most enjoyable when scarfed down by the handful while watching sports or playing video games.

But sometimes the best way to find balance in life is with contrasting extremes, like the matcha potato chips that are about to go on sale in Japan.

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Survey reveals the top five times Japanese travelers realise just how Japanese they are

Whether we like to admit it or not, where we were brought up has a huge impact on the person we become. From our way of thinking to what foods we prefer, it’s hard to deny that our environment shapes our personal identity.

While some people come from nations that are veritable melting pots of backgrounds, languages, and cultures, others come from a country with much more homogeneity. Japan is one such country, and its people have a strong sense of identity—though they may not readily admit it.

But often during a trip to a foreign country, there comes a moment of self-realization where they become aware of just how Japanese they really are. A recent survey asked Japanese travelers to identify the five moments they felt most Japanese when abroad. The results are really quite telling.

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Hugh Jackman faces entrail stew, slimy sea grapes on Japanese gameshow, doesn’t bat an eye

It seems that these days, Hollywood celebrities can’t get enough of appearing on Japanese TV. Just last week, Keanu Reeves treated the Japanese public to some karate moves on a chat show sofa, and this week it’s the turn of actor Hugh Jackman, who cut a gentlemanly figure as he appeared on hugely popular culinary gameshow Kuwazugiraiou (Food Prejudice King).

As part of the show, everyone’s favourite Wolverine was faced with a gauntlet of entrail stew, fishy sea grapes, and fried quail eggs, amongst other delights, as he fought to win the title of… Food Prejudice King! So, how did he get on?

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Cool Sweets: Tokyo’s sweet-and-sour shaved ice is the perfect dessert after Tsukishima monjayaki

Tokyo is packed full of delightful little neighborhoods, each with their own specialties. One of our favorite little neighborhoods is Tsukishima, renowned for Monja Street, an area overflowing with monjayaki restaurants. Located not far from Tsukiji Fish Market, it’s a great place for lunch when spending the day around Tokyo Bay.

But after eating a meal of monjayaki, you may have a hankering for something sweet. Fortunately, Cool Sweets, one of the best kakigori (shaved ice) places we’ve found yet, is located right on Monja Street! We recently stopped by to grab some photos and video of their delightful treats and highly recommend that you do too!

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We try cute meals, drinks and sweets from Namja Town’s Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal menu

We recently brought you news of the enticing Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon-themed menu at Namja Town, an indoor theme park operated by Namco, in Tokyo. The themed offerings were really quite something, and after spending so much time poring over the unbelievably cute items on offer, we found ourselves itching to stop in for a visit!

And visit we did. Come with us now as we eat everything from Luna P-Ball, Sailor Moon’s Moon Stick, and even Tuxedo mask’s pocket watch. These incredible edibles are absolutely adorable and filled with so many surprising details they’re almost too cute to eat! Almost…

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The ultimate hangover cure! Hot canned miso soup, packed with the power of 70 clams

One of the most wonderful things about a Japanese winter is the abundance of hot drinks that become available at convenience stores and vending machines on street corners. There’s nothing quite like popping a coin into a machine on a freezing cold night or while making your way to work, only to have a piping hot can delivered into your frozen palms; it’s an experience that’s almost as satisfying as actually drinking the hot beverage and warming yourself from the inside out!

Stumbling across a good hot soup other than corn potage when scouring the drinks display is always a rare bonus and now that’s something we can look forward to, especially after a night of drinking, with the new canned miso soup from Nagatanien. Filled with the power of ornithine, an amino acid abundant in clams, this is a traditional hangover remedy from Japan, now packed in a can!

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Get your FREE RAMEN!! Hakata Ippudo offers complimentary ramen for one day on 30th anniversary

Ramen lovers in Japan will have something to be excited about this Friday, October 16. Popular ramen chain Hakata Ippudo is celebrating their 30th anniversary that day and will be offering complimentary bowls of ramen at 30 select locations. That’s right, we’re talking FREE RAMEN here, and come the 16th, we know there’ll be plenty of customers waiting for their bowl of steaming pork-broth noodles!

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Michelin-listed ramen restaurant will turn you into a tiger with a single bite

It wasn’t so long ago that you’d hear expats and travelers in Japan express shock over the concept of sitting down in a restaurant and paying good money for a bowl of ramen. Seriously, aren’t those the cheap, instant noodles that college students, bachelors, and other people too lazy to cook survive off of?

Things are very different today, though. Ramen is currently the hottest segment of Japanese cuisine in the international dining community, with restaurants dedicated to it opening up in cities across the U.S. The humble noodles’ stock has risen so high that this ramen restaurant in Hokkaido is listed in the esteemed Michelin guide, so we decided to see if it was deserving of the honor.

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Trick or treat? How about both with these adorable Rascal the Raccoon-themed Halloween donuts

Author Sterling North’s classic book Rascal, about North’s own adventures with his wily pet raccoon, has delighted both children and adults for generations. The story also became a huge hit in Japan with a wildly popular animated series adaptation in the 1970s, and the character is still well-known today.

Due to their intelligence and craftiness, raccoons are known mischief-makers. They are also really stinkin’ cute, which makes them- or more specifically, Rascal- the perfect match for these limited edition Halloween donuts, from donut-specialty shop Floresta.

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Dollhouse dumplings! Are these the world’s tiniest gyoza?【Video】

Every area in Japan has its own local delicacies. As a long-time resident of Shizuoka Prefecture, I can tell you one of the best things my area has to offer is Hamamatsu-style gyoza, or pot stickers.

You can find all kinds of places offering up this delicious dish inside or outside the prefecture, but this is the first time we’ve ever seen it get a miniature makeover. How do these tiny dumplings measure up to the real thing? Let’s find out!

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