food

Think you’ve had every type of tempura? Not until you’ve eaten deep-fried maple leaves

Autumn is a great time of year in Japan. The sticky humidity of summer is gone, but it’s still warm enough to enjoy spending time outdoors. Best of all, there’s the spectacular show of the leaves changing to vivid reds and dazzling yellows.

For me though, fall comes with one major drawback, which is that for the whole season, it seems like the mixed tempura set at every restaurant I go to is packed with mushrooms. If you’re a fan of Japan’s many types of edible fungi, this is a major plus, but if you can’t stand the things, you might be feeling a little left-out.

Take heart, though, because there’s still a way to form a deep-fried connection to autumn with tempura maple leaves.

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Eating soufflé and hanging out in hammocks at Cafe Asan

Tokyo is practically overflowing with great places to eat–being one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world has to have some benefits, right? While rush hour traffic might be test the patience of even the most benevolent Buddhist monk, at least you can find a good place to eat without too much effort. Of course, not every eatery is going to be excellent, and some places tend to rely on gimmick as much as their culinary skills to pull in patrons, like hanging hammocks inside the dining area. Can you really enjoy a nice meal will swinging from the ceiling like a lazy Tarzan?

Well, we stopped by Cafe Asan in Ueno and sat in their hammocks to find out! Read on to see if you should add the cafe to your Tokyo itinerary.

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Top 10 food disasters prepared by Japanese wives who have extraordinary talent in the kitchen

So, a week or two ago, we saw this video of a Japanese woman explaining why she thinks Japanese women great girlfriends or wives, and one of the reasons she stated was that Japanese women care a lot about cooking. That’s a wonderful thing. I mean, there’s even a saying that says the best way to win a man’s heart is to first win his stomach.

However, caring about cooking and having the talent and taste buds for cooking are two entirely separate issues. Sorry to burst your bubble if you were thinking that all Japanese girls make fantastic home-cooked meals, because among the Japanese, there is a group of women collectively referred to as meshimazu yome, which means “wives who make unpalatable meals”. A survey by Goo Ranking reveals the top 10 shocking meals made by Japanese wives with… unique tastes. Are you in for a treat?

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We try eating insects — they don’t taste like chicken

Insect cuisine is popular in Thailand, where insect farms are booming as farmers try to keep up with demand by breeding cricket snacks and ant-egg omelet meals to satisfy this growing market. And, lucky you, the bug-eating trend is going international!

Who’d eat insects, you ask? Me, of course!

Don’t act so surprised. Japan has a history of devouring insects and other fun fare, referred to as getemono or, inferior foods. While most Japanese people will turn their noses up at such “delicacies” they probably won’t deny that restaurants, called getemonoya, were once common and that during war times, eating such food was often necessary. The good news is that Jiminy Cricket actually tastes pretty good! And, he’s nutritious.

Join our vegetarian, insect-eating reporter as she crunches and munches her way through some of Japan’s finest insect cuisine that we promise you won’t find in the Michelin Guide.

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We raid the new Final Fantasy restaurant on our quest for drinks, desserts, and blue ramen

Earlier this year, we stopped by Artnia, the café run by video game publisher Square Enix, to munch on buster sword chocolates and drink material cocktails. Just as you’d expect from the company behind some of Japan’s biggest RPG franchises, though, there’s now an upgraded sequel, the Eorzea Café, with an even larger menu of Final Fantasy themed foods.

Led by our sense of adventure and gnawing appetite, we journeyed to the strange and wonderful land of Tokyo’s Akihabara to check it out.

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Survey ranks Japan’s most and least welcoming restaurants of 2014

The reputation of Japanese customer service speaks for itself, but among the various businesses in the country certain establishments stand out even more for making patrons feel at home. Recently, President Magazine conducted a survey of over 1,000 men and women to find out which eating and drinking establishments made this grade.

Restaurants are often ranked in terms of delicious food, variety, and value, but this time we’re going to see which eateries people feel most comfortable going into and which ones have all the charm and ambiance of a prison chow hall.

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Nah-nah-nah-nah Bat Burger! We’re officially jealous of Hong Kong

Living in Japan, we realize we’re pretty blessed when it comes to special burgers and cool comic book fast food tie-ins. But while we’re deeply grateful for our black burgers and giant-sized Attack on Titan French fry buckets, today, we’re not hiding our envy of Hong Kong’s fast food scene, since right now, that’s the only place where you can get a Batman Burger.

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Face of Spanish monkey Jesus appears in Japanese roll cake

Usually, Jesus limits his food-based appearances to grilled cheese and Cheetos in certainshall we sayconservative areas of North America, but it seems like he is making inroads to Asian pastries with an appearance in a dessert offered by Japan’s popular Komeda Coffee chain. And not just that, he decided to present as a famous recent incarnation: the monkey-faced botched restoration of Ecce Homo!

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Tottori Prefecture’s special curry is pretty in pink, fiery in the belly

We recently dug into a plate of bright blue curry inspired by Dragon Quest’s mascot monster (and almost motor vehicle), slime. It tasted surprisingly great, but what if blue’s not your color or you’re in the mood to dine on something with a more traditionally feminine hue?

If that’s the case, how about some pink curry instead?

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Adorable sushi bear gives salmon-loving restaurant customer a very happy birthday

Before the tragic day when the sushi restaurant in my neighborhood closed down, I went there often enough that a few of the guys behind the counter recognized me when I came in, and even remembered that I liked my tuna rolls heavy on the wasabi. A little bit of personal service always makes a meal more enjoyable, so while I’m sad my local place is gone, I’m happy for Twitter user Okappasama, who still has a kaitenzushi joint where she’s a regular.

Not only does the staff remember her favorite type of sushi, they recently whipped up something for her that you won’t ordinarily find on any menu: a special birthday sushi bear!

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We try bright blue Dragon Quest slime curry, live to tell the tale

A few weeks ago, we told you about Village Vanguard’s launch of Slime Curry, a rather curious blue foodstuff inspired by the bad-guy blobs of the Dragon Quest series. Not content with just informing you of its existence, one of the Japanese reporters at our sister site Pouch bravely volunteered to try the curry for herself and report back if she survived. Here’s what she had to say.

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Teen job hunter learns: Do not screw around at an interview with McDonald’s Japan

Most of us have probably heard of the weird questions people get at top-paying tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook and, whatever, Chia Pet or something. You know what we’re talking about: “How many toilets do you think are in San Francisco?,” “If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?,” “Why is a tennis ball fuzzy?,” and, of course, “Why did you sleep with my sister and did you really think you’d get away with it?” (Just me?)

But we bet the last place you’d probably expect to get one of these abstract, no-right-answer kind of logic puzzle questions would be, say, an interview for a part-time job flipping burgers at McDonald’s, right?

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The ultimate spork that’s just for eating ramen

Love ramen but can’t quite get the hang of chopsticks? Wish you had a way to have your noodles and slurp your broth too? Well you’re in luck! There’s a spoon/fork combo that was specifically created for your ramen-eating enjoyment. Check out all the stainless steel, long-prong action after the jump!

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Japanese sweets and giant robots combine in a new anime series intriguing the Internet

If you’ve ever been to Kyoto, then you may know that the city’s food culture includes a rich history of traditional Japanese sweets, known as wagashi, which can be a perfect accompaniment to a day touring Kyoto’s famed temples. While many in Japan associate Kyoto with traditional sweets, a new anime series is about to take this aspect of the city’s food culture and combine it with a giant robot for a one-of-a-kind TV show.

Set in modern-day Kyoto, Domaiga D will center around a dessert shop owner who finds a giant robot beneath his shop right when the city is coming under attack by huge monsters.

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McDonald’s Japan celebrates Halloween by joining the dark burger revolution

It’s been just over a week since the release of Burger King’s two pitch-black hamburgers, which might have left some fast food fans in a bit of a bind. On the one hand, they’re definitely eye-catching and intriguing, but their buns owe (and cheese) their sinister shade to an infusion of bamboo charcoal.

While it’s perfectly edible, we imagine some people are just a tad averse to eating charcoal. So if your palate isn’t quite that wide, but you’re still adventurous enough to eat squid ink, McDonald’s has got you covered with their own dark burger.

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Tokyo ice cream stand’s colossal eight-flavor cones might be the biggest we’ve ever seen

Tokyo’s Nakano Broadway is mainly known for its anime specialty shops, but that’s not all you’ll find if you make your way to each corner of the shopping center’s labyrinthine interior. Inside you’ll also come across an old-school video arcade, suit tailor, watch store, and painting workshop for tabletop role-playing game lead miniatures.

But what we’re talking about today is what awaits visitors in Nakano Broadway’s basement: just about the biggest ice cream cones we’ve ever seen.

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In Japan, a wide variety of bento, onigiri and other ready-cooked food are commonly available in convenience stores and supermarkets, in addition to the vast selection of instant and frozen choices. With such food readily available at wallet-friendly prices, not to mention they taste rather decent too, it’s little wonder why there is an increasing number of Japanese youngsters who don’t or can’t cook.

As seen in previous attempts, cute illustrated girls are effective in gaining the interest of the younger generation. Combining cute illustrated girls in skimpy lingerie and suggestive poses, with girl-on-girl action and hints of incest, and matching said illustrations with cooking instructions, however, would probably not appeal to the wide masses. Bizarre as that may sound, such a cookbook does in fact exist. We’re just not sure if the illustrations are actually supposed to whet or kill our appetite.

As you might expect, some of the illustrations are NSFW…

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Awesome treehouse café in Yokohama satisfies our longing for bagels, beer, and nature

Not too long ago, I ate ramen from a can on a Tokyo backstreet. It didn’t taste half-bad, but between the barkers for maid cafes and the homeless guy raiding the surrounding vending machines’ recycling bins for cans, it really didn’t make for the most elegant dining ambience.

But the great thing about Japan is the contrasting extremes you can find, and if eating in the middle of Tokyo’s concrete jungle by the soft glow of neon signs isn’t to your liking, you can always come on down to Yokohama, which has a café with plenty of natural sunlight thanks to the restaurant actually being an awesome treehouse.

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Tokyo’s sushi spirit shrine, where the souls of seafood slumber

The other day, I woke up and immediately had a craving for sushi. In and of itself, that’s not really anything remarkable, since “Man, I could really go for some good sushi,” is one of my first fully formed thoughts on just about any given morning.

Not one to deny my heart its truest desires, I headed to Tokyo’s Tsukiji, home of the world’s biggest seafood market and some of Japan’s best sushi restaurants. I ducked into one and polished off a bowl of sliced tuna and salmon, and, still wrapped in the lingering effects of my food coma, went for a rambling stroll around the neighborhood.

Since I wasn’t looking for food anymore, my eyes ended up being drawn to a shrine I’d never noticed before. I stepped onto the grounds, where I found a monument to the souls of all the fish whose lives supply Japan with sushi.

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Japanese people list 10 ingredients they never, ever want to find in their miso soup

Miso soup is a staple food in pretty much any Japanese household. Served morning, noon or night, this thin, slightly salty broth is tasty, filling, and, as you’ve probably already realised, is the perfect accompaniment to rice. It is so deeply ingrained in Japanese culture that in some areas of the country there even exists a joke that a man may indirectly propose to a woman simply asking, “Will you make my miso soup for me every morning?”

But one person’s idea of a perfect bowl of miso soup can be another’s salty soy nightmare. With so many ingredients that go, or at least seem to go, well in a bowl of Japan’s favourite broth, it can be difficult to find a bowl that ticks all the boxes, and there are some ingredients that – depending on one’s upbringing, personal tastes or geographical location – are considered simply unacceptable.

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