Would you dare eat a cake shaped like a deep-sea dwelling organism? Shokotan certainly would.
Dear Taco Bell Japan,
I’m writing this open letter to first welcome you back to Japan, but also to warn you of a great danger that lies ahead.
When you first announced you would open in Shibuya I was among those who felt that warm feeling of an old friend returning. And even though there were a few hiccups with your grand opening such as the lack of beans and “supreme court tacos” on your online menu, I had faith Taco Bell would rise to greatness in Japan.
However, since then we haven’t really heard much from your restaurant, and that worries me. So, I’d like to present you with five ideas for uniquely Japanese tacos that will not only appeal to the local crowd, but be eye-catching enough to make your brand a name to remember. I even went ahead and actually made and taste-tested them for you!
Since 1 July, a small corner of the Chayamachi district in the downtown Umeda area of Osaka has been holding a huge deal: All-You-Can-Eat-and-Drink Alley. For a flat rate of 3,500 yen (US$28) you can have three hours to run wild and eat as much as you want from eight different restaurants in the alley, going back and forth among them freely.
Still not enough? Okay picky pants, how does also having all-you-can-drink of any drink from coffee to wine sound? We thought that would convince you! Let’s take a quick look at what’s in store (or stores rather) for you there.
Even 27 years after its release, My Neighbor Totoro continues to resonate in the hearts of fans, so much so that it’s easy to forget that the anime classic is a mere 87 minutes long. Subtract from that all the scenes the star himself doesn’t appear in, and we’re left with far less time than we’d like with Studio Ghibli’s most beloved character.
Granted, Totoro does make a brief appearance in one of the animated shorts shown at the Ghibli Museum. But what if you don’t have a trip to Tokyo lined up anytime soon, or that particular piece of animation isn’t being shown when you do?
Then it’s time to arrange a tabletop visit from the big guy himself, by whipping up a plate of Totoro soba noodles.
While researching a story on the scarcity of female sushi chefs in Japan and the US, I came across a startling, buried and forgotten quote from the heir apparent to one of the best-known and most prestigious sushi restaurants in the world.
In a 2011 interview with The Wall Street Journal’s Scene Asia blog, Yoshikazu Ono, son of Jiro Ono, the star of 2011’s “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” documentary, Yoshikazu was asked why there are no female chefs or apprentices at his father’s $300 per person sushi restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro. His response:
I like to think of myself as having developed a pretty broad palate, what with the fact that I’ll happily choose to eat things such as cod roe, lotus root, and chicken tail. Still, there are a couple of culinary challenges I can’t overcome, and perhaps my greatest dinner plate foes are mushrooms. I mean, I know they’re good for you and all that, but seriously, they’re fungi, right?
Here with a counterpoint is karate word champion Rika Usami, and the ferociously awesome commercial she made in her new role as mushroom spokes-martial artist.
Japan never ceases to be the country of making something taste exactly like something it shouldn’t. In the land where you can get kimchi-flavored soft drinks and spaghetti-flavored ice candy, it would seem food companies are really just drunk with power when it comes to what they can and will make stuff taste like.
And now we have “the perfect snack cake for any meat-lover,” Momotan Aged Meat Flavored snacks. It’s in the form of a typical Japanese confection called manju with a cake-like outer coating and sweet been paste filling. However, these Momotan manju are heavily seasoned to make you swear you were eating a morsel of month-old meat instead!
Summers in Japan are pretty warm. In fact, one might got a bit further than that and say that they are down right hot. Of course, there are many places in the world that are hotter and more humid, but knowing that doesn’t help those of us sweating over here now!
One home remedy popular in Japan is grated daikon, or Japanese white radish. Of course, if you’re not a fan of radish, this might not be an easy medicine to swallow, but fortunately Japanese Twitter users know just how to get you to eat it: with some of the cutest food ever! Get ready to beat the heat and go “Awwwww!” at the same time!
You may already be familiar with YOKU MOKU – the Japanese sweets company famous for its sugar cigar cookies. Well it turns out that the company has outdone itself this summer, as it has just brought out a new product called Cigare ice cream – luxurious cigar-shaped cookies filled with, yup, ice cream. And, as you might imagine, Japanese sweet-lovers are already raving about them online…
So, you like eggs, but with all the conflicting research about the little balls of protein, it’s hard to decide if you should be eating zero eggs, an egg a day, or as many as you can stuff in you face. Sadly, we’re not entirely certain either, but if you simply don’t care about what’s good for you or not, we’d like you to meet your comrade-in-shells, P.K.
Our clothes-hating Japanese reporter P.K. is a huge fan of the unfertilized bird babies, and he recently read that all that research saying you shouldn’t eat too many eggs is bunk. So he decided to make up for lost time and headed down to Ramen Kagetsu Arashi to get a bowl of noodles with more eggs than a chicken coop. Egg lovers, get ready to hear your stomachs growl!
When it comes to ramen, nothing goes better than a side serving of gyoza (dumplings) washed down with a beer. Now our culinary dreams are about to come true with the release of gyoza-flavoured cup noodle ramen.
Soy sauce is delicious, and it’s by far one of our favorite condiments. It can enhance all manner of foods and make even something as boring as plain tofu delicious. But even as much as we love it, how well do we really know it? For example, could our gourmand Japanese writers figure out they were eating soy sauce even if it didn’t look like soy sauce?
This might seem like a silly question – and it definitely is! But it’s also a legitimate question thanks to the clever food processing skills of a company that also makes pink curry. So, do you think our food-loving writers will be able to identify pink soy sauce? Or will we have the last laugh? Find out below!
While everyone has his or her own preference on what ingredients make for a great burger, we can all pretty much agree on the proper construction method, right? Bread on the top and bottom, meat, vegetables, and condiments in between has pretty much been the standard for as long as anyone can remember.
Japanese hamburger outfit Mos Burger has been shaking up the burger blueprint this summer, though. This month, the chain released a burger that replaces its bun with two thick slices of tomato, and next month Mos is set to launch something equally unusual: a burger covered entirely in sauce, even on the outside!
So, mint is an extraordinarily versatile, exceedingly summer-appropriate ingredient. It can add a refreshing bite to savory dishes, is the essential main ingredient in basically all of the world’s best ice cream flavors, and is the star of the show in that most refreshing of summer beverages, the mojito (without which would basically just be watery rum).
Mint is the miracle substance that makes Asia’s hellish, your-buddy-just-spontaneously-combusted-hot summers just the slightest bit tolerable; a fact that beverage and snack makers in Japan are finally catching onto, with each passing year seeing better and more diverse mint-infused offerings.
But lemon and mint? That’s the new flavor combo Pepsi is banking on to be the next big thing with its new “Pepsi Special Lemon Mint” drink offering, and we’re just the slightest bit wary.
Around the internet there is a Japanese term, majikichi, which is short for “Maji de kichigai jimiteru kara yamero” or “Stop because you seriously seem to be losing your mind”. Needless to say it’s a convenient word.
Perhaps a good example of majikichi is in the sushi world. With all of Japan’s less traditional sushi restaurants known as “sushi trains” competing for people’s attention, they often come out with some eye-catching toppings, and sometimes things go too far.
In the true spirit of journalism, our reporter Nakano has been out and about finding the most majikichi sushi in the land from bacon sushi to rice omelet sushi. Now his travels bring him to Japan’s first ever sushi train chain Genki Sushi and their latest offering: Blueberry Cream Sushi.
It’s no secret that McDonald’s Japan has been on a slippery slope following several food safety scandals in recent years. In 2014, the fast food giant reported its first annual loss in 11 years, which amounted to 21.84 billion yen (around US$176 million).
In an effort to restore trust and reaffirm their commitment to quality assurance, the fast food chain recently fitted out two stores in Japan with an “open kitchen” design, allowing customers to get an inside view of operations to see just how orders are made, from start to finish.
But will this be enough to bring customers back to the golden arches?
If you’re an anime purist, you’ve probably watched at least one title with a localization choice that rubbed you the wrong way. Maybe you were irked by Sailor Moon’s Usagi being called “meatball head” on American T.V. instead of “dango/dumpling head.” More recently, you might have wondered why Doraemon’s central family ditched all their chopsticks and now eat their Japanese food with forks in their U.S. appearances.
But localization runs in the other direction, too, and it’s just come to light that Pixar has altered part of the artwork in several scenes of Inside Out solely for the film’s Japanese release.
Yuru-kyara, or regional promotional mascots, are so ubiquitous in Japan it can sometimes be hard to recall which one’s which, where they’re from, or even what type of brand or product they’re promoting.
Over 1,000 mascots represent different regions in Japan, which means the need to leave a lasting impression is a constant driving force in the creation of cute products like the sweet puppy above. Can you guess which region he represents and the even more unusual place where he can be found?
Ramen is the ultimate Japanese hunger-busting food. With its combination of greasy, fatty soup combined with carb-heavy noodles, it’s the perfect meal for when you’re REALLY hungry in Tokyo (or just really hungover.) But that doesn’t mean that this taste is for everyone. In fact, there’re probably a lot of people out there who just can’t handle that heavy hit of garlicky, salty grease.
Our Japan Wish competition winner Ashley mentioned in her winning video entry that she really wanted to get a taste of Tokyo ramen. We accompanied her to Ramen Jiro to watch as her tastebuds tangled with the pungent umami of a bowl of their finest slurping fare. Unfortunately, Ashley soon realised that the reality of the truly salty ramen might be a little hard to swallow – along with the actual ramen itself! Check out our video report!
McDonald’s Japan has seen its profits tumble over the last year especially, mostly due to safety concerns after tainted meat was found to be have been used in some of its products. The situation is not nearly as dire over in Europe, but if the following tweet is to believed, it seems McDonald’s staff in France could work on their food presentation skills.