food

We substitute mirin for sugar in pudding and then taste it ourselves 【Rocket Kitchen】

If you’re in the mood to cook but running short on ingredients, there’s always the old tactic of asking your neighbor for a cup of sugar. If you are in Japan though, why don’t you ask your neighbor for a cup of mirin, or sweet sake used for cooking, instead?

The Sanshu Mikawa Mirin Distillery has recently been promoting sweets made with mirin. This notion is bound to turn some heads as there doesn’t seem to be a correlation between mirin and sweets in Japanese cooking, where it’s instead often used to add a flavorful touch to grilled fish or sushi. So how is it that this seemingly savory flavor can be substituted for the sweetness of sugar? The RocketKitchen is going to get to the bottom of this and eat some pudding too!

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Rock, paper, jealousy… beautiful food vendor draws hate online

Apparently, selling foodstuffs is the sexiest occupation around, judging by the many recent discoveries of incredibly hot people peddling edibles. First, we had the KFC hottie, followed by the Pork Princess. And now, there’s another attractive food seller in Pingtung, Taiwan whose beauty is bringing all the boys to her stall, but it seems that not everyone is happy about her particular brand of marketing her wares.

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Cup Noodle maker Nissin asks Italians to rate its new “pasta style” cups【Video】

The land that invented instant noodles is never one to rest on its instant laurels. Noodle makers in Japan have been constantly coming up with new flavors and dishes to keep their customers happy, and the company that started it all, Nissin, is proud to unveil its newest instant noodle product: pasta!

The folks at Nissin are so excited about their new product, they are giving it the ultimate taste test by taking it to Gragnano, Italy, an area famous for dried pasta. Are these instant noodles going to satisfy the palates of some real Italians? Join us after the jump to find out.

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Distinctive Japanese Häagen-Dazs lids proving unusually versatile

Ice cream manufacturer Häagen-Dazs is pretty popular in Japan. The company has a large enough market share to run near-constant ads inside subway and above-ground train cars; usually a pretty good indicator of market success since ads on JR trains cost, approximately, all the dollars that ever were or ever will be.

One reason for the brand’s popularity in Japan – other than, you know, it tastes good – is the fancy, sturdy packaging used for individually-portioned cups. Now, most people just like them because it contributes to the brand’s premium mystique, but it turns out a lot of Japanese Twitter users are finding recently that the sturdy, distinctive plastic lids have a huge variety of neat, bonus utility and decorative uses even after all the ice cream inside is gone.

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Impressive replicas of iconic Japanese tourist spots made from curry

As kids we were always told not to play with our food but someone didn’t get that memo at a recent curry exhibition. Online marketplace Rakuten recently hosted a one-day event showcasing regional curry dishes from all over Japan, and the curry creations were very playful, and some were downright awesome. As if the spict foodstuff wasn’t already delicious enough, it got even better with iconic Japanese tourists spots replicated from curry!

Check out some of the dishes after the jump. It’s tourism for your taste buds!

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We try Japanese desserts made with bits of tuna. What could go wrong? 【Taste test】

Okay, Japan, I’m trusting you on this one. There have been a lot of times in the past when I was skeptical about your foods, and repeatedly you’ve proven me wrong.

You hit a home run with the raw fish thing. Pasta with spicy cod roe and seaweed? Now one of my go-to choices for a quick, hot meal. Grilled chicken cartilage? Stuff is delicious.

And now you want me to try desserts made with tuna? Sure, let’s do this.

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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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