food

Turn rice balls into rice kitties with this adorable omusubi kit!

The Japanese words omusubi and onigiri are usually translated as “rice ball,” but there’s no rule that they have to be round. Walk into any convenience store or supermarket in Japan and you’ll find the shelves stocked with triangular versions, plus plenty that look closer to a soft-edged hockey puck than a perfectly spherical ball.

What we’re saying is that when it comes to omusubi design, your options are wide open, and with this kitty-shaped omusubi kit, they’re adorable as well.

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Our 7 best conveyor-belt sushi restaurants in Sapporo

When you think of the Hokkaido city of Sapporo, you probably think of winter. After all, this is the city that hosts the annual Yuki Matsuri snow festival where massive ice sculptures line its bustling streets, and millions of people stop by the city every year while en route to Niseko for some ski or snowboarding fun.

But when Japanese people think of Sapporo, they tend to think summer, when the far-north metropolis boasts cool, mild weather and abundant nature in a season where much of Honshu is blanketed in oppressive heat and humidity; the kind that makes you physically angry every time you step out the door.

Anticipating an influx of Japanese tourists to the area, our Japanese sister site recently put together its top picks for the best conveyor belt sushi restaurants in Sapporo, and we thought we’d share, since, honestly, Sapporo is a really, really nice place to visit this time of year and their seafood is to die for.

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Is this studly tofu maker really all he seems?

Making tofu, believe it or not, actually requires enough physical labor that, even if you’re just making enough for yourself, you’re liable to at least break a sweat (although, honestly, why on earth would you make just a single serving of tofu?). There’s a lot of pressing and carrying heavy things around and grunting involved in tofu creation, is what we’re saying.

But is it hard enough that making a lot of it over time can turn your average tofu maker into a rippled, muscular Adonis? The short answer is, uh…maybe. Your results may vary (and you probably ought to hit the gym, anyway) but Taiwanese media claims to have found at least one particularly fit local tofu maker.

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Feeling hungry? Dip into this delicious Princess Mononoke-inspired cheese ball recipe

With summer come picnics, potlucks and barbeques, but for those of us who aren’t so handy in the kitchen, it can be a real conundrum trying to come up with a dish that’s simple to make yet tastes great.

If you’re stumped for summertime snack ideas, why not try your hand at this easy-to-make cheeseball recipeShaped like the Forest Spirit from Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke, it not only looks delicious, but is sure to impress any Miyazaki or anime buffs in your circle of friends.

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Lotte answers all the ice cream questions you always wanted to know but never knew who to ask

Summer is here! Finally, we can eat gallons of ice cream without looking like weirdos again! We might be sweating and smellier than a gym sock in Tokyo, but at least we have ice cream and that makes it all worth it.

But how much do you really know about your ice cream? We recently discovered that Lotte, a producer of numerous delicious treats in Japan, has a FAQ purporting to answer all your burning (melting?) ice cream questions. See if yours is on the list below!

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Swiss hotel fights food wastefulness with photos of starving children

As a child, did your parents ever try to get you to finish everything on your plate by telling you how there are starving children in the world who aren’t lucky enough to have the luxury of a decent meal? As a kid, it probably just seemed like an unfair guilt-trip, but as adults hopefully we have all now realized the truth behind those words and the importance of not being wasteful.

A particular Swiss hotel has taken similar tactics to curb the wastefulness of its guests at the breakfast buffet, after shameful amounts of food have been left partially or wholly uneaten and then thrown away. But the hotel took it a step further by including shocking photos to help drive the message home.

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Natto Boys want to take their smelly beans to Africa, but they need your help

Natto Boys (Natto Danshi) are a group whose sole purpose is to share the ancient and traditional Japanese food natto with the world. However, with its acrid smell and texture of an alien autopsy subject, those are some high hopes.

Already in about half a year, the Natto Boys have established a website featuring over 100 serving suggestions for the fermented soy beans to help promote the food at home. Now, they want to take the next step into the world’s second largest continent, Africa, and to do this they have turned to us for help via crowdfunding.

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Red is the new black (burger) as Burger King rolls out sandwiches with crimson buns and cheese

When Burger King first rolled out its black hamburgers in Japan in 2012, we thought the company had gone insane. It turns out Burger King really is crazy…crazy like a fox. And not just any fox, but some sort of super-intelligent fox with an advanced degree in marketing, since the black burgers caught the attention of media outlets around the world and were such a hit that they’ve been brought back in multiple updated forms.

The black burgers will once again be returning to Japanese Burger King locations in 2015, but before they do, this summer the chain is debuting a line of bright red burgers with crimson cheese and something called “Angry Sauce.”

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Local tourism center in northern Japan makes visitors feel like they’ve crossed over into Korea

“Roadside stations,” or michi no eki, are centers in Japan where you can find local agricultural products and restaurants serving up regional fare. For Japanese drivers, these areas serve as both a local tourism spot and a place to relax.

You can find michi no eki all across the country that provide a peek into local Japanese culture, but one center located in Yamagata Prefecture is rumored to make visitors feel right at home in Korea.

Not knowing if the rumor was true or why, one of our Japanese reporters felt compelled to see the center for himself and embarked on a trip up north that led him to Tozawa Village.

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Confessions of a gaijin: 12 things we do that we’d never admit to Japanese people

In Japan almost everyone hangs out their laundry to dry rather than using costly, energy-guzzling clothes dryers. Foreigners have no problems complying, but one quickly learns that underwear is special–you don’t hang it out with the rest of your clothes where others might see it (or try to see it). The “smallies” are to be hung up inside. When you think about it, it does make sense. But other things are harder for foreigners to get used to and yet others just don’t make sense at all to us so are harder to incorporate into our lifestyles here.

Pooling responses from expats living here in Japan and the RocketNews24 staff, today we’re sharing the most common things that we just can’t quite embrace like the Japanese do, no matter how hard we try. Join us after the jump as we reveal the secret life of gaijin…but shhhh, don’t tell anyone!

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We try Tom Yum Pizza, the new Domino’s pizza that tastes just like the soup 【Taste Test】

Our reporter P.K. Sanjun is something of a tom yum goong fan. In fact, P.K. believes this spicy/sour Thai/Lao soup is one of the three great soups of the world (the other two are bouillabaisse and shark fin soup, since you asked).

So when P.K. heard that Domino’s Pizza in Japan was launching a tom yum goong pizza, he was somewhat skeptical. “They don’t even have tom yum pizza in Thailand!” he points out. But in the interests of investigative journalism, P.K. put aside his misgivings and ordered one spicy soup-flavoured pizza. And boy, did he love it.

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Horse meat sushi restaurant opens up in Tokyo, becomes sushi’s latest craze 【Photos】

Those of you familiar with Japanese cuisine might have heard that horse meat, called basashi or sakura niku (cherry meat) due to its pink color, is a popular delicacy in Japan. Horse meat has been praised time and time again by many in the country for being low in calories and fat but also high in protein, all on top of a great taste.

Considering the meat’s popularity, and how more and more conveyor belt sushi, or kaitenzushi, restaurants have been adding non-traditional items like hamburger and roast beef sushi to their menus, you could say it was only matter of time before a horse meat option appeared.

Kagurazaka Nikusushi, a new trendy sushi restaurant between Shibuya and Ebisu in Tokyo, is now offering this new sushi sensation, and one of our Japanese writers, P.K., has the scoop!

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RocketKitchen: A simple and delicious recipe for cooking tuna

Tuna. It’s definitely a fish most of us all grew up with. And if you’re anything like one of our RocketNews24 crew, P.K., then you may have grown up believing that tuna only comes from a can!

Though you may associate tuna with cans, that need not be the case. You can actually use fresh tuna in your meals, and today we’ll show you how with a simple recipe that’s sure to impress, even though it requires only five ingredients. Read on to learn how to make this delicious yet simple tuna recipe!

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Who needs fast food? Tokyo restaurant has awesome cutlet lunch sets for less than five bucks

Given Tokyo’s reputation as one of the most expensive cities on the planet, you might think that dining out in Japan’s capital requires either a large fistful of yen or the fortitude to put up with a growling stomach after an undersized meal that leaves you only half-full. That’s not always the case, though, and it’s not like budget dining restricts your options to Yoshinoya or 7-Eleven, either.

We recently found a restaurant right in the heart of Tokyo that has filling, delicious lunches that are so cheap, we sort of felt guilty eating there.

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Tower Records celebrates Super Mario Bros.’ 30th anniversary with cafe and sale

It’s hard to believe it’s been 30 years since Nintendo first unveiled Super Mario Bros. on the original Japanese NES, or Famicon as it’s known in Japan. With over 200 games and counting, Super Mario has become the best selling video game franchise of all time. We’ve seen the video game icon get sucked into the Mushroom Kingdom to save Princess Peach on countless occasions, and become a legendary go-kart racer and sports athlete, as recapped here.

Mario’s been used to sell everything from Mercedes to Converse, and this time, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the industry-changing Super Mario Bros. video game, Tower Records is teaming up with Mario for a special limited edition cafe and summer sale at participating stores.

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Make your tummy happy, eat a kimchi yogurt rice bowl today

In the boring and often mildly terrifying world of being a competent adult, there comes a time when you have to start eating healthily or face the horrible consequences. Junk food somehow seems less appealing when you have to factor in the inevitable side effects such as bloating, stomach cramps, and bad skin.

So we’re always looking for new things to eat that have added beauty benefits, and recently a secret super recipe has come to our attention which involves adding a dollop of yogurt and kimchi to our rice bowls.

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Waiting for your meal is so much more fun with a tiny, projection-mapped chef cooking for you

It’s no surprise that many celebrations and social gatherings center around food. Food is a big part of pretty much every country’s culture, and since many of us eat around three times a day, it makes sense to enjoy your grub in the company of friends or family.

But when we’re out to eat at a restaurant, sometimes the wait for our food can put us in a bad mood, particularly if our stomachs have been empty for a bit too long. One company, however, has come up with a nifty way to help restaurants serve up a bit of high-tech entertainment to its guests: a pint-sized chef who cooks up your meal right on your plate!

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Mr. Sato eats curry with his hands on a park bench because spoons are for losers

You may have noticed by now that RocketNews24’s resident wacky mascot reporter Mr. Sato just loves stuffing his face with food – and occasionally other people’s faces, too. In fact, he loves food so much that he’s always looking for new ways to spice up each eating experience. That’s what we love about Mr. Sato, he really knows how to enjoy himself by pushing the boundaries of taste and style!

This time, he had the excellent idea of eating Japanese curry with his hands whilst crouched on a park bench at night…

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The broccoli wedding bouquet toss-Japan’s quirky substitute for the garter belt

Western-style weddings are overwhelmingly popular in Japan, and especially among young couples, outnumber Japanese-style ceremonies by a wide margin. In many ways, Western ceremonies in Japan are similar to what you’d see in the U.S. The bride wears a dress, the groom a tuxedo, and the pair exchanges vows and seals the deal with a kiss. The reception, likewise, usually involves toasts, a fancy dinner, and a bouquet toss.

But despite Japan’s rather open obsession with women’s undergarments, the garter toss isn’t a wedding tradition here. But the absence of a male equivalent to the bouquet toss has been noticed by some who are soon to be married, and they’ve hit upon the offbeat solution of having the men in attendance try to catch a bunch of broccoli thrown by the groom.

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In Japan, the is no more dominant name in the ready-to-eat pickled ginger game than Iwashita New Ginger. Their stalks of sweet and spicy roots soaked in vinegar and sugar are sure to satisfy those looking for an all-natural snack.

But don’t think for a second that Iwashita is resting on those laurels. They are constantly creating innovative promotional ideas to make people aware of just how satisfying their pickled gingers are. Starting on June 20 they will be opening the Iwashita New Ginger Museum, and to commemorate this opening they’ll be selling the exclusive Iwashita New Ginger penlights pictured above!

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