food

The new seasonal menu at family restaurant chain Jonathan’s is curiously simple…

The new seasonal menu at family restaurant chain Jonathan’s is curiously simple…

We’re used to family restaurants in Japan offering their own unique takes on western dishes, with what might best be described as mixed results. But this item on the new seasonal menu at Jonathan’s sees the restaurant branch out into stripped down, über-simple food that’s had some customers questioning: can you really call that a side dish?!

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Onigiri without the nigiri – Japan’s traditional rice balls get an update

Onigiri without the nigiri – Japan’s traditional rice balls get an update

Onigiri are rice balls, and they’re basically the Japanese version of sandwiches. They’re a fast, convenient snack that you can eat without getting your hands messy, and they’ve been a staple of Japanese lunches since medieval times. But now there’s a hip new version that’s trying to take over from the long-established practice of molding the rice by hand.

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KFC Japan’s pumpkin biscuits ready to become tasty Halloween treats

KFC Japan’s pumpkin biscuits ready to become tasty Halloween treats

Recently, Japanese branches of McDonald’s and Burger King have been getting into the Halloween spirit with spooky black burgers infused with squid ink and bamboo charcoal. This is a problem for KFC, though, since both of those ingredients are a little too exotic to mix with the Colonel’s traditional set of 11 herbs and spices.

Since KFC can’t celebrate Halloween by embracing its dark side, the most popular fried chicken outlet in Japan is instead turning to the holiday’s other icon by offering pumpkin biscuits.

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Popular old-school Japanese anime gets its own restaurant for adoring Chinese fans

Popular old-school Japanese anime gets its own restaurant for adoring Chinese fans

Despite the increasingly obvious and alarm-inducing deterioration of the political relationship between Japan and China, it appears there’s one Japanese export the Chinese just can’t possibly bring themselves to boycott: Manga and anime.

Even at a time when the Chinese are openly fist-fighting other Chinese in the streets for the crime of choosing a Japanese car, manga and anime – especially, it seems, of the old-school variety – have pervaded Chinese pop culture to the point that it’s not only accepted to read it regularly, some Chinese business owners are going to great lengths to cash in on the popularity of Japan’s biggest pop cultural export.

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Give your pancakes a major flavor boost with one secret ingredient: fermented soybeans

Give your pancakes a major flavor boost with one secret ingredient: fermented soybeans

The humble pancake is a beloved food for both its deliciousness and how easy it is to make. It’s also a highly versatile food, suitable for either a sweet snack with powdered sugar, strawberries and syrup, or a savory dish served with chicken and lettuce.

Now, there appears to be a rumor among pancake aficionados in Japan that with one simple addition to the pancake mix it is possible to boost the flavor level to that of a luxury hotel or restaurant. That ingredient is none other than the typical Japanese seasoning made from fermented soybeans: miso.

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Häagen-Dazs Japan making ice cream classier than ever in Japan with wine and Opera flavors

Häagen-Dazs Japan making ice cream classier than ever in Japan with wine and Opera flavors

Häagen-Dazs already has a pretty upmarket image, what with its high-quality ingredients, premium pricing, and fancy-sounding name. Apparently, though, the U.S.-headquartered ice cream brand’s Japanese division still thinks there’s room to grow in the classiness department.

Two mature treats are being added to the lineup soon, one which uses red wine and another which draws inspiration from a French dessert. And just in case those don’t sound regal enough, they’re topped with gold and silver.

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Think you’ve had every type of tempura? Not until you’ve eaten deep-fried maple leaves

Think you’ve had every type of tempura? Not until you’ve eaten deep-fried maple leaves

Autumn is a great time of year in Japan. The sticky humidity of summer is gone, but it’s still warm enough to enjoy spending time outdoors. Best of all, there’s the spectacular show of the leaves changing to vivid reds and dazzling yellows.

For me though, fall comes with one major drawback, which is that for the whole season, it seems like the mixed tempura set at every restaurant I go to is packed with mushrooms. If you’re a fan of Japan’s many types of edible fungi, this is a major plus, but if you can’t stand the things, you might be feeling a little left-out.

Take heart, though, because there’s still a way to form a deep-fried connection to autumn with tempura maple leaves.

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Eating soufflé and hanging out in hammocks at Cafe Asan

Eating soufflé and hanging out in hammocks at Cafe Asan

Tokyo is practically overflowing with great places to eat–being one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world has to have some benefits, right? While rush hour traffic might be test the patience of even the most benevolent Buddhist monk, at least you can find a good place to eat without too much effort. Of course, not every eatery is going to be excellent, and some places tend to rely on gimmick as much as their culinary skills to pull in patrons, like hanging hammocks inside the dining area. Can you really enjoy a nice meal will swinging from the ceiling like a lazy Tarzan?

Well, we stopped by Cafe Asan in Ueno and sat in their hammocks to find out! Read on to see if you should add the cafe to your Tokyo itinerary.

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Top 10 food disasters prepared by Japanese wives who have extraordinary talent in the kitchen

Top 10 food disasters prepared by Japanese wives who have extraordinary talent in the kitchen

So, a week or two ago, we saw this video of a Japanese woman explaining why she thinks Japanese women great girlfriends or wives, and one of the reasons she stated was that Japanese women care a lot about cooking. That’s a wonderful thing. I mean, there’s even a saying that says the best way to win a man’s heart is to first win his stomach.

However, caring about cooking and having the talent and taste buds for cooking are two entirely separate issues. Sorry to burst your bubble if you were thinking that all Japanese girls make fantastic home-cooked meals, because among the Japanese, there is a group of women collectively referred to as meshimazu yome, which means “wives who make unpalatable meals”. A survey by Goo Ranking reveals the top 10 shocking meals made by Japanese wives with… unique tastes. Are you in for a treat?

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We try eating insects — they don’t taste like chicken

We try eating insects — they don’t taste like chicken

Insect cuisine is popular in Thailand, where insect farms are booming as farmers try to keep up with demand by breeding cricket snacks and ant-egg omelet meals to satisfy this growing market. And, lucky you, the bug-eating trend is going international!

Who’d eat insects, you ask? Me, of course!

Don’t act so surprised. Japan has a history of devouring insects and other fun fare, referred to as getemono or, inferior foods. While most Japanese people will turn their noses up at such “delicacies” they probably won’t deny that restaurants, called getemonoya, were once common and that during war times, eating such food was often necessary. The good news is that Jiminy Cricket actually tastes pretty good! And, he’s nutritious.

Join our vegetarian, insect-eating reporter as she crunches and munches her way through some of Japan’s finest insect cuisine that we promise you won’t find in the Michelin Guide.

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We raid the new Final Fantasy restaurant on our quest for drinks, desserts, and blue ramen

We raid the new Final Fantasy restaurant on our quest for drinks, desserts, and blue ramen

Earlier this year, we stopped by Artnia, the café run by video game publisher Square Enix, to munch on buster sword chocolates and drink material cocktails. Just as you’d expect from the company behind some of Japan’s biggest RPG franchises, though, there’s now an upgraded sequel, the Eorzea Café, with an even larger menu of Final Fantasy themed foods.

Led by our sense of adventure and gnawing appetite, we journeyed to the strange and wonderful land of Tokyo’s Akihabara to check it out.

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Survey ranks Japan’s most and least welcoming restaurants of 2014

Survey ranks Japan’s most and least welcoming restaurants of 2014

The reputation of Japanese customer service speaks for itself, but among the various businesses in the country certain establishments stand out even more for making patrons feel at home. Recently, President Magazine conducted a survey of over 1,000 men and women to find out which eating and drinking establishments made this grade.

Restaurants are often ranked in terms of delicious food, variety, and value, but this time we’re going to see which eateries people feel most comfortable going into and which ones have all the charm and ambiance of a prison chow hall.

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Nah-nah-nah-nah Bat Burger! We’re officially jealous of Hong Kong

Nah-nah-nah-nah Bat Burger! We’re officially jealous of Hong Kong

Living in Japan, we realize we’re pretty blessed when it comes to special burgers and cool comic book fast food tie-ins. But while we’re deeply grateful for our black burgers and giant-sized Attack on Titan French fry buckets, today, we’re not hiding our envy of Hong Kong’s fast food scene, since right now, that’s the only place where you can get a Batman Burger.

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Face of Spanish monkey Jesus appears in Japanese roll cake

Face of Spanish monkey Jesus appears in Japanese roll cake

Usually, Jesus limits his food-based appearances to grilled cheese and Cheetos in certainshall we sayconservative areas of North America, but it seems like he is making inroads to Asian pastries with an appearance in a dessert offered by Japan’s popular Komeda Coffee chain. And not just that, he decided to present as a famous recent incarnation: the monkey-faced botched restoration of Ecce Homo!

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Tottori Prefecture’s special curry is pretty in pink, fiery in the belly

Tottori Prefecture’s special curry is pretty in pink, fiery in the belly

We recently dug into a plate of bright blue curry inspired by Dragon Quest’s mascot monster (and almost motor vehicle), slime. It tasted surprisingly great, but what if blue’s not your color or you’re in the mood to dine on something with a more traditionally feminine hue?

If that’s the case, how about some pink curry instead?

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Adorable sushi bear gives salmon-loving restaurant customer a very happy birthday

Adorable sushi bear gives salmon-loving restaurant customer a very happy birthday

Before the tragic day when the sushi restaurant in my neighborhood closed down, I went there often enough that a few of the guys behind the counter recognized me when I came in, and even remembered that I liked my tuna rolls heavy on the wasabi. A little bit of personal service always makes a meal more enjoyable, so while I’m sad my local place is gone, I’m happy for Twitter user Okappasama, who still has a kaitenzushi joint where she’s a regular.

Not only does the staff remember her favorite type of sushi, they recently whipped up something for her that you won’t ordinarily find on any menu: a special birthday sushi bear!

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We try bright blue Dragon Quest slime curry, live to tell the tale

We try bright blue Dragon Quest slime curry, live to tell the tale

A few weeks ago, we told you about Village Vanguard’s launch of Slime Curry, a rather curious blue foodstuff inspired by the bad-guy blobs of the Dragon Quest series. Not content with just informing you of its existence, one of the Japanese reporters at our sister site Pouch bravely volunteered to try the curry for herself and report back if she survived. Here’s what she had to say.

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Teen job hunter learns: Do not screw around at an interview with McDonald’s Japan

Teen job hunter learns: Do not screw around at an interview with McDonald’s Japan

Most of us have probably heard of the weird questions people get at top-paying tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook and, whatever, Chia Pet or something. You know what we’re talking about: “How many toilets do you think are in San Francisco?,” “If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?,” “Why is a tennis ball fuzzy?,” and, of course, “Why did you sleep with my sister and did you really think you’d get away with it?” (Just me?)

But we bet the last place you’d probably expect to get one of these abstract, no-right-answer kind of logic puzzle questions would be, say, an interview for a part-time job flipping burgers at McDonald’s, right?

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The ultimate spork that’s just for eating ramen

The ultimate spork that’s just for eating ramen

Love ramen but can’t quite get the hang of chopsticks? Wish you had a way to have your noodles and slurp your broth too? Well you’re in luck! There’s a spoon/fork combo that was specifically created for your ramen-eating enjoyment. Check out all the stainless steel, long-prong action after the jump!

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Japanese sweets and giant robots combine in a new anime series intriguing the Internet

Japanese sweets and giant robots combine in a new anime series intriguing the Internet

If you’ve ever been to Kyoto, then you may know that the city’s food culture includes a rich history of traditional Japanese sweets, known as wagashi, which can be a perfect accompaniment to a day touring Kyoto’s famed temples. While many in Japan associate Kyoto with traditional sweets, a new anime series is about to take this aspect of the city’s food culture and combine it with a giant robot for a one-of-a-kind TV show.

Set in modern-day Kyoto, Domaiga D will center around a dessert shop owner who finds a giant robot beneath his shop right when the city is coming under attack by huge monsters.

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