food

Sailor Moon candy, dolls, and music boxes! More new merch than you can shake a Moon Stick at

We recently took a look at a new batch of Sailor Moon aprons, but if you’ve been following the celestial-themed magical girls for very long, you knew that wasn’t going to be the end of cool and quirky tie-ins for the franchise. The product planning team of merchandiser Bandai apparently never sleeps, and those aprons were just the opening salvo of another round of Sailor Moon goodies, including one that’ll help fans with the first part of their quest to eat, sleep, and breathe the hit anime.

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Why are some Japanese preschools banning awesome, adorable character bento?

Considering how much Japan loves food and cute things, it’s no surprise that the country is in the middle of a chara-ben boom. Chara-ben, bento boxed lunches with their contents arranged like popular characters such as Hello Kitty and Doraemon, are a hit with adults and children alike, as parents seem to be having as much fun making them as their kids are eating them.

But not everyone loves this trend of culinary creativity, though, as some preschools and day care centers have started banning chara-ben.

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Less is more as bakery starts selling bags of delicious melon bread crusts minus the bread

It hasn’t made its way to the same level of international culinary stardom as sushi and ramen, but I don’t think I’ve ever introduced a foreign visitor to Japan to melon bread who didn’t fall in love with it. Despite containing no actual melon (the name is thought to come from the pattern scored into the bread’s upper crust), the Japanese bakery mainstay is a definite winner thanks to its sugar-dusted, crisp outer layer. Melon bread delivers just enough flavor and crunch to satisfy your craving for something sweet and stimulating, while at the same time hiding its one undeniable weakness.

The center is just plain white bread.

Bakery Yamazaki Pan seems to have accepted the treat’s shortcoming, and has responded in a temptingly logical way: selling bags of just the crust.

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Real version of Lotteria’s five-patty cheeseburger doesn’t look nearly as glorious as the ads

This Monday marked the return of the gigantic, five-patty Tower Cheeseburger to fast food chain Lotteria. Unfortunately, it was only back for a day, but hey, we figured this limited availability was actually a blessing in disguise. After all, you feel a lot less guilty eating that much meat in a single sitting when you know it’s the sort of rare opportunity you won’t have the chance to make a habit of.

But with just one day to get their Tower Cheeseburgers, no doubt a lot of fans weren’t able to clear out their schedules for a run to their local Lotteria. We’re guessing the blow was softened a bit, though, when they saw that the reality of their burger dream didn’t look anywhere near as mouth-watering as it did in Lotteria’s ads.

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Small-you-can-eat: Japanese netizens are not happy with Denny’s new endless pancakes offer

We really got our hopes up when we heard that Denny’s Japan is offering an all-you-can-eat pancake buffet. For 999 yen (US$9.40), we were promised a pancake paradise complete with whipped cream, a choice of different ice cream flavors, and free toppings. It sounded almost magical.

It turns out, however, that Denny’s promised land of pancakes is little more than an illusion, as a number of Japanese netizens who rushed to the restaurant to try out the buffet reported leaving feeling utterly disappointed, with some commenting that the sorry excuse for a pancake party left even their kids crying, “I’m still hungry!

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Food envy: Pizza Hut Korea launches new cream cheese cranberry crust pizza

Japan gets all kinds of delicious seasonal and limited-edition treats, so it’s not often that I find myself wishing I lived in one of its neighbouring countries instead. Today, though, I have most definitely been paid a visit by the green-eyed monster, as South Korea’s Pizza Hut has just launched a brand-new pizza with a crust filling that looks so mouthwateringly delicious that I can honestly say I wish I were having lunch in Seoul rather than Tokyo today.

Ladies and gentlemen of the internet, prepare to feel very, very hungry.

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Le Jardin de Tweed: Lunch on the roof terrace at Chanel Ginza

Ginza is well-known for its high-end boutiques and exclusive brand name designer stores. Armani, Hermes, Gucci, Bvlgari and Chanel all have signature outposts here and the most surprising thing about them is they offer the unique opportunity to dine inside their buildings.

The iconic Chanel building has one of the most impressive locations of the lot, with a laid-back, resort-like setting up on their roof terrace overlooking the busy Ginza shopping street below. Featuring tweed accents and a lunch box put together by acclaimed French chef Alain Ducasse, you’ll have to get in quick for a chance to eat here as the outdoor area is only open for a limited time until October 31 every year.

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Time to head north: Tochigi Prefecture’s gyoza-flavored rice topping is nothing short of divine

Tochigi Prefecture doesn’t pop-up in the news often, but when it does it usually involves food. You might remember the “First Love” flavored gyoza or the tomato-milk-lemon drink. I totally understand if you didn’t jump out of your seat to go to Tochigi just to taste those… unique… goods for yourself, but there is a new product in Tochigi that is flying off of the shelves and just might be worth that trip: “Kekeru gyoza.”

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Skull-shaped lollipop holders: Because liking candy doesn’t mean you’re not one bad dude

For the most part, we tend to think of candy as being something for kids. Sweet flavors just seem to go with the sweet era of youthful innocence.

But what if you’re an adult who craves a sugar rush, but you still want the world to know that you’re a stone-cold badass? Then you carry your candy inside a skull-shaped lollipop case.

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When first-try character bentos go wrong 【Photos】

The culinary custom of bento, boxed lunches, goes back for generation in Japan. What’s a little less clear, though, is how long people have been dressing up their bentos to look like cute characters.

We’re sure some creative people with both artistic and culinary talents have been making character bentos, or chara-bens, for a long time. But recently, media coverage of chara-bens has gotten intense, and it’s inspiring a wave of newcomers to try their hand at making one for the first time.

But you know the saying, “The third time’s the charm?” People say that because you’re likely to screw things up the first two times, as this collection of first-try bentos shows.

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Raw, frozen eggs are the new food trend in Japan, apparently

Japan seems like a heaven for lovers of raw food–you can even get raw horse meat, if you’re so inclined. Coming from the midwest of the US, I am seriously disinclined to touch any meat that’s not cooked well-done, especially if it comes from a formerly feathered friend. The very concept of “raw egg” is intrinsically linked to “death by salmonella” in my mind, despite the fact that raw egg dishes have been popular in Japan since long before I was born.

But knowing something logically and accepting it emotionally are two very different things. So, while I’m reluctant to try it, I’m that sure raw, frozen egg dishes are actually exceptionally tasty.

So, if you are interested in trying it, here’s some information on the dish and how to make it yourself.

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Celebrate New Years in Pokémon style — with a monster ball filled with traditional osechi food!

In Japan, when you start hearing about Christmas cake promotions, it also means you have to start thinking about New Year’s osechi food as well. Osechi consists of different traditional foods typically prepared for New Year’s to wish for luck in the coming year and are usually items that keep well so that you can have the pre-cooked foods throughout the New Year’s holidays without having to do much cooking during that time. You can, of course, choose to keep it simple and simply buy just a few of the key items like datemaki (sweet rolled omelette) and kuromame (black soy beans) at the supermarket, or go all out on a luxury osechi set from a famous restaurant or department store. Well, this year, it looks like a Pokémon osechi set is also an option, and it even comes in a unique container in a shape that fans will find quite familiar — a Poké Ball!

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Worried about McDonald’s chicken in Japan? Don’t be! Free McNuggets ease your fears!

This summer, consumers in Japan were shocked by the news of “Chickengate”, the Chinese food scandal that revealed a dirty secret behind our favorite Chicken McNuggets. Since then, McDonald’s Japan has tried to win back customers with Tofu McNuggets, and more recently introduced the “Hiru Mac” or “Lunchtime Mac” to encourage patrons to come for lunch and enjoy great discounted prices.

But, the public still worries about where the chicken is coming from. The sales of McNuggets haven’t recovered since McDonald’s Japan revealed that the chicken comes from Thailand, so they’re trying a new tactic of…giving away free Chicken McNuggets.

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New book teaches you to make grated radish animals: Healthier than latte art, just as cute

Japan’s become pretty enamored with latte art over the past few years, with baristas all over the country creating cute characters in swirls of cream and foam. But what if you’re not a coffee drinker, either because you’re watching your caffeine intake or just because your inner child won’t let you drink anything so bitter? Is there a way for you to set your table with eye-pleasing edibles?

Sure there is! All you need is a pile of grated daikon radish, and this new book that tells you how to craft it into adorable edibles.

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Neither guilt nor escaped alligator stops Chinese crowd from looting spilled crustacean cargo

You never know what the day’s going to throw at you when you get up in the morning. For example, when a large group of residents of China’s Changsha left their homes last Wednesday, they didn’t know they were just hours away from getting crabs.

Don’t worry, the city hasn’t had a sudden outbreak of pubic lice. Instead, a seafood delivery car spilled its cargo onto the road, creating a swarm of looters who scooped up the animals for themselves.

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We leap into autumn by eating a pack of tempura maple leaves

Earlier this month, we found out that the city of Mino, in Osaka, has been selling tempura maple leaves for at least a hundred years. Since we’ve made it our mission in life to eat everything that can be deep-fried (barring non-food items like deep-fried scissors), we immediately called Hisakuni Kosendo, one Mino’s maple-cooking outfits, and ordered a pack to try for ourselves.

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Denny’s Japan now offering all-you-can-eat pancakes! We’ll take 30!

It’s a fact: the world loves pancakes. That’s why we’re sure those of you who live outside of Japan will be jealous to hear that Denny’s Japan is offering an all-you-can-eat pancake deal that includes a variety of fruit, syrup, and ice cream toppings! The only thing better than this pancake buffet is the Japanese word for pancake: pankeiki. How cute is that?!

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The ultimate guide to Kyoto ice-cream

While the weather is gradually getting chillier as many parts of the world meander into autumn, we know we’ll never be able to give up the sweetest bit of summer – ice cream. You can never be too full, nor the weather too cold, for a bowl of that delicious, frozen goodness, and if you happen to be heading to Kyoto to catch the beautiful autumn leaves, you’ll be pleased to know that Japan’s most traditional city is positively brimming with ice cream at this time of year, and today we have a guide to some of the best out there.

Whether you’re into fruity flavors or traditional Kyoto desserts, or simply wanting to satisfy your sweet tooth, the ancient capital is bound to have something for you.

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Ultra-premium green tea pudding costs more than a steak, is probably worth it

One of the first English lessons I taught in Japan was about how to use words like “everywhere” and “nothing.” As part of the class, the students had to practice making sentences with “everyone,” and one woman stood up and gave hers, which was “Everyone likes pudding.”

I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a truer statement. Pudding is universally popular. Even the very wealthy love it, which is why one company in Japan is now selling matcha green tea pudding made from such high-quality ingredients that it costs more than most meals that could precede the tasty dessert.

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Seven fantastic furikake flake flavors to liven up your bowl of white rice

In Japan, almost every traditional meal is served with white rice. Sometimes, though, even Japanese diners find themselves craving something a little more flavorful, and when they do, they reach for a container of furikake (lit. “sprinkle over”) flakes to liven up their rice.

Dried fish like salmon or bonito are the most common kinds of furikake, but just like every region of Japan has its own special Kit-Kats, different parts of the country also have their own unique furikake, and today we’re taking a look at seven of the most tempting.

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