food

Japanese town axes milk from school lunches, debate likely to wage until cows come home

I’ve lost count of the number of Japanese people I’ve met who were disappointed to find out I don’t have what they consider quintessential American eating habits. The last time I had a steak was a year ago. I’m perfectly happy eating rice, and I love fish, since, you know, I grew up in California, which is a coastal state (same ocean as Japan has, too).

But there’s one stereotype I do conform with, and that’s how much I love milk, despite being a full-grown adult. Many Japanese people, on the other hand, associate the drink with their childhood, since it’s been served in elementary schools for decades.

One city in Niigata Prefecture, though, has decided it has no more tolerance for drinkable lactose, and starting this month, is removing milk from its school lunches.

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Funky food-themed swaddling cloths let you wrap your baby up like sushi, egg rolls, or tortillas

It always seems a little strange when someone looks at a really cute baby and squeals, “He’s so cute I could just eat him up!” I agree, most babies are pretty adorable, and if you said, “He’s so cute I could take on the social responsibility of providing food, clothing, and shelter for him,” or maybe “He’s so cute I could put up with his moody teen years,” I’d probably be right with you.

But eating him? Why would your mind go there? Unless, of course, the baby is wrapped in a sushi roll-style swaddling cloth.

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5 amazing health and beauty benefits of eating wasabi

Ah, wasabi, the pungent root that adds spice to sushi and gets up the noses of over-enthusiastic consumers, leaving many a watery eye and a burning palate. It seems that you either love wasabi or hate it, with wasabi-lovers clamoring for a touch of the green stuff in a variety of forms including Kit-Kats and potato chips, and wasabi-haters strictly stipulating to sushi chefs that they require their sushi sabi-nuki de, or sans wasabi. But did you know that the wasabi-lovers actually get to enjoy a host of health and beauty benefits that are denied to those who shy away from this miraculous wonder root? Read on as we unveil the five surprising health effects of regular wasabi consumption!

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No time to cook? Here’s how to make fried shrimp in just three seconds (with the right equipment)

One of Japan’s most popular cooking shows is Three-Minute Cooking. Broadcast by Nippon TV and sponsored by condiment maker Kewpie, the program does exactly what it promises, teaching people to make quick, tasty meals that take just three minutes of cooking.

Three-Minute Cooking started in 1963, though. In the busy 21st century, who can afford the luxury of spending that much time in the kitchen? It’s time for a faster, more modern way to cook dinner, which is where this video comes in with its demonstration of how to cook fried shrimp in just three seconds.

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We head to Nagoya for a nice cup of joe served fresh from a stepladder to your table

They say that in Japan, the city of Nagoya is the fiercest market for cafes and as a result it also has many of the best coffee shops in the country. And in the midst of all these high quality roasts and laid-back atmospheres lies one shop in particular that literally manages to stand above the rest.

It’s called Cafe Tsuzuki and has a poster with the slogan “Coffee Guy’s shop: Night and day unique coffee research.” We sent our reporter Yuichiro Wasai down to inquire about their research, stepladder and all.

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Never leave home without it! The USB-powered rice ball warmer

Japan, like many other countries, has no shortage of “unique” inventions and products. Sometimes they may seem useless or downright impractical, but other times they’re just clever enough to be useful.

So where does this USB-powered onigiri (rice ball) warmer fall on the spectrum of clever and bewildering? We’ll let you decide for yourself!

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Play with fire at an old-fashioned “irori” hearth restaurant

Temperatures are dropping here in Japan and that means it’s prime time for one of my favorite Japanese foods. Sure, I love sushi and a nice hot bowl of udon sure doesn’t go amiss come December, but in winter nothing holds a candle to the old-fashioned Japanese communal cooking experience called irori. It’s like cooking ’round a campfire from the comfort of your home!

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In Japan, nothing says “Merry Christmas, Baby” like greasy convenience store chicken

We all know that KFC is a big, big deal in Japan around Christmas-time. Families order huge Christmas platters for the holiday and singles celebrate by inviting friends over and bringing home a bucket of Special Recipe.

While it may strike Westerners as a delightfully quirky example of holidays getting lost in translation this side of the Pacific, to the Japanese, it’s a cherished tradition. And, of course, a multi-million dollar cash cow for KFC; one that convenience store chains are always eager to get a piece of.

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We test the mayonnaise hair pack, plus give vegetable and olive oil a shot, and the winner is…

Recently, do-it-yourself mayonnaise hair packs have caught the attention of people who want to look their best, save a little cash, and maybe find a second use for that jumbo-sized jar of the condiment they picked up at Costco. And while we don’t know where she sources her mayo from, our Japanese-language correspondent Shimazu was one of those intrigued by this possible meeting of the beauty and culinary worlds.

So to see if it’s really as good for your hair as its fans say, Shimazu hopped in the shower, lathered up, and slapped on a coat of mayo. She didn’t stop there, though, as she also grabbed a couple of other bottles from her kitchen so she could compare the results versus treating her hair with vegetable and olive oil.

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Learn to love the taste of raw daikon with this simple recipe 【RocketKitchen】

Daikon is one of the cornerstones of Japanese cuisine. It has a firm yet yielding texture and ability to meld with any flavors it comes in contact with such as oden broth. However, most ways of eating daikon involve cooking which largely squanders the precious vitamin C that it contains.

You could eat it raw, but on its own daikon has a bitter and bland flavor suitable for no one. At least, it did until now thanks to a recipe posted on Cookpad, Japan’s premier recipe site, by a user with the handle of ayureo. This recipe is certifiably delicious, cheap, and so simple that anyone can do it — even us!

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Oh no, osechi! Why don’t young people in Japan like eating traditional New Year’s dishes?

During the year of college I spent doing homestay in Tokyo, for New Year’s, my host family and I ate a traditional osechi meal. Served in a multi-layered box, almost each of the dozen or so dishes had some sort of auspicious meaning behind it, and the presentation and cultural significance of the whole affair was a memorable experience.

That said, I’ve never found myself craving osechi again, and it turns out my lack of enthusiasm isn’t a result of my foreign background. More and more young people born and raised in Japan are deciding they can do without osechi at New Year’s, and they’ve actually got some pretty sound reasons why.

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Got a beef with Japan’s Christmas shortcakes? Then try one made out of chicken

I like Christmas. I get that some people feel it’s over-commercialized, but for me, I’m happy to see some nice decorations and have an excuse to get together with family and friends. Really, the only complaint I’ve got is the cake.

See, in Japan, you can’t celebrate Christmas without a cake. Ordinarily, adding cake to just about anything makes it better, with “a mug of beer” being the sole exception I’ve found so far. But almost every Christmas party here features the exact same “Christmas cake.” It’s basically a strawberry shortcake, which, by my criteria, is sorely lacking in the three most important ingredients of a really good cake, which are, in no particular order, chocolate frosting, chocolate sponge, and chocolate filling.

So if you’ve also got a beef with the standard Christmas cake, maybe you’d prefer one that’s made out of chicken.

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【TBT】Sampling strawberry ice cream panda bean curry

Café Latino sits in the quiet residential area of Asakusa, and seems to be your average urban curry restaurant with cozy, modern decor. Certainly, one wouldn’t expect to find something like ‘Strawberry Curry’ on the menu.

Part of Café Latino’s spring-only menu, Strawberry Curry is available from late December to mid-March and requires a reservation for customers who wish to order it. We put in ours, and made our way to the restaurant to see how this unlikely combination holds up.

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Love curry? Why not wear it around your neck? Plastic food neckpieces get netizens talking

Japan sure loves its plastic replica food. It’s a handy way for restaurants to demonstrate the dishes on offer, and it’s an absolute godsend for tourists who don’t read Japanese. Instead of grappling with menus written in complicated characters, they can simply point at the tasty plastic versions. In recent years, however, plastic food has found its way toward decorating all sorts of objects, from phone cases to accessories. We think that things might have gotten a bit out of hand, however, because now you can apparently wear a serving of plastic food around your neck. Join us after the jump to see the whole range!

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3-D green tea latte art adds a splash of whimsy and color to your cup

While browsing around Twitter the other day, one of our Japanese reporters came across some adorable 3-D matcha latte art on the Matcha Fan Club (抹茶同好会) official account.

According to the tweet, the photos came from a sweet shop at the Karasuma Oike Station in Nakagyō-ku, Kyoto called Saryo Suisen. Our reporter just had to see more, so she headed over to their official Twitter page and was treated to some beautiful latte art designs created by the shop barista, Sudo-san.

Of course, we just had to share them with you!

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A Ghibli mystery solved — the identity of exotic looking food in Spirited Away revealed!

If you’re a Ghibli fan, chances are you’ve been fascinated on more than one occasion by the various colorful and tantalizing foods that appear in their films. Perhaps you’ve even seen some of the dishes recreated in real life. And then there are those mysterious looking foods, the identity of which we quite aren’t sure, like this stretchy, jelly-like translucent item that Chihiro’s father is seen eating in the film Spirited Away. Well, word on the Japanese Internet recently has it that the mystery as to what that food is has finally been solved.

Care to take a guess what it is? We’ll give you a hint: it’s not a Japanese dish!

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Yokohama restaurant serves fried axolotl, along with giant isopod, camel, and crocodile

It’s no secret that there are a lot of unusual food choices available in Japan–some of which have upset quite a few people. There’s a good chance that this offering by a Yokohama restaurant will be no different and will likely divide people between the “gotta have some” and the “WTF?!” crowd. In addition to offering crocodile, ostrich, and camel meat, Chinjuya in Yokohama also provides customers with the opportunity to munch on fried axolotl grown in captivity.

You can even order giant isopods!

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Adorable chicken traveller actually headed to nauseating final destination in series of promo pics

“Go forth, young one,” the adorable fowl’s equally adorable parents probably said. “It is time for you to strike out on your own. You are destined to do great things.”

We picture a bittersweet farewell, tears running down the proud parents’ beaks, each pecking nervously at the ground in turn, their prodigal son equipped with nothing but the knapsack ‘round his neck and a meager meal of two leeks.

If only the proud parents had known their young son’s final destination…

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We don’t know what Vanadium is either, but Asahi put it in a drink for you anyway

On November 18, Asahi released its new Fuji-san Vanadium Natural Water Hot, apparently banking on the idea that regular convenience store-going human beings would both a) know what Vanadium is, and b) actually want to consume just plain hot water out of a bottle.

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Beautiful faces and floors – Five great ways to reuse the water from rinsing rice

While out shopping the other day, I picked up a bag of prewashed rice. The grocery store was having a sale, so it was just as cheap as the unwashed kinds, and I figured, “Hey, there’s no advantage to having to rinse it myself is there?”

But as it turns out, the water left over after you wash the rice, called togijiru in Japanese, is actually pretty useful, as shown by these five ways you can reuse it instead of just dumping it down the sink.

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