food

New coffee-flavored potato chips “taste like chaos”

Just like how everyone gets excited about superhero crossover projects, two different companies combining forces is a sure way to get junk food fans in Japan fired up. We’ve seen this before with Kentucky Fried Chicken potato chips, and now spud lovers have a new flavor many people are used to getting amped by: coffee.

Since we’re always ready to add to our extensive resume of potato chip sampling, we picked up a bag to try some for ourselves, and they turned out to be even more surprising than we’d imagined.

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Japanese couple celebrates wedding with cake shaped like a sliced-up, possibly bloody tuna

When it came time for my wife and me to put together a menu for our wedding reception, I tried to sound out her opinions before jumping in with my own. That is, until we got to the cake selections, and I immediately blurted out, “Let’s get the triple chocolate one!”

Thankfully, by that point she’d already made her peace with my many flaws which extend far beyond my cake preferences, and she smiled and acquiesced to the non-traditional, pitch-black (and completely delicious) choice.

Somehow, though, I don’t think things would have gone so smoothly if I’d done like the recently married man in Japan who suggested serving a wedding cake shaped like a sliced up, possibly bleeding tuna.

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Sorry guys! Video of “sexy ice cream girl” in Taipei only delivers on half its milky promises

In marketing, it’s important to deliver on the various components of the expectations you create. For example, if I advertise an apartment as having a toilet and shower, but after you move in you discover it actually only has one of those, you’re going to be pretty upset, right?

Likewise, we imagine a lot of people were excited when they heard about this video spreading around the Japanese Internet, where it’s been described with the lead-in, “The sexy ice cream stand girl in Taiwan that everyone’s talking about!” After all, ice cream and sexy people are two of the most popular things on the planet.

But it turns out that breathless description is only half-true.

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In wake of meat scandal, McDonald’s Japan losing not only customers, but employees, too

It’s been a pretty rough year for McDonald’s in Japan, in the same way that getting hit by a bus on your way to work would make for a rough morning. Following a widely reported scandal in which the chain had been supplied with expired chicken by a meat processing facility in China, McDonald’s has been trying everything it can think of to lure diners back, such as giving away Chicken McNuggets for free, replacing the meat with tofu, and trying to take our mind off the incident entirely by pulling our attention towards pork cutlets instead.

After all, a restaurant chain can’t survive without customers, right? There’s one other thing you need to run a business though: employees, and these days McDonald’s is finding itself losing those, too.

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Gunma-chan candy is adorable, probably as sweet as the mascot’s national championship

Gunma-chan, Gunma Prefecture’s regional mascot, or yuru-kyara, may not have the most creative name. The cap-wearing horse more than makes up for that shortcoming with cuteness, though, and was recently named the winner of the nationwide Yuru-Kyara Grand Prix popularity contest.

The championship is the culmination of a long campaign for Gunma-chan, who finished in 18th place in 2011, before spending two years stalled in the number three spot.

Having now reached the top of the yuru-kyara world, it’s time for Gunma-chan to savor the sweet taste of victory, and time for everyone else to savor the sweet taste of Gunma-chan candy.

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Lonely diners discover an easy way to get handwritten confessions of love from Yoshinoya staff

Anyone who has watched even a handful of episodes of Japanese anime will have heard the words “suki” or “daisuki” at some point. Literally meaning “like” and “like very much” (daisuki is, after all, written with the characters 大 “big” and 好き “like”), these two words are used not just when describing one’s preference for a particular pokémon or pizza topping, but when declaring deep, “more-than-friends” feelings for someone.

It would seem, however, that staff at Japanese fast food chain Yoshinoya have recently been unwittingly handing declarations of love to especially peckish patrons following the arrival of a popular seasonal dish, with these handwritten love letters becoming the subject of great amusement online.

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Hi-Chew fruit candies re-invented in DIY food creations

The Japanese fruit-chew candy, Hi-Chew, is getting more and more popular these days and it can be found all over the world, even in the Boston Red Socks’ locker room. Some Japanese consumers, however, seem to be sick of the same-old rectangle shape and chewiness and are starting to find new ways to eat it.

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Beautiful models and actresses delivering boxed lunches in Tokyo with new bento service

Bento, Japan’s multi-dish boxed lunches, come in a variety of styles. While it’s most common to make your own or pick one up at a cheap takeout joint, there’s also a whole sub-industry of high-class bento delivery services that cater business conferences and other high-rolling events.

Of course, rich and powerful clients tend to have demands as high as their positions on the corporate ladder. They expect the food to be delicious, the service to be impeccable, and now, with Platinum Lunch, they can expect their bento to be delivered by beautiful models and actresses.

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We try roasted salamander so you don’t have to

Part of the excitement of traveling is trying foods that you have never seen, heard of, or even contemplated before. So when our lodging in the wilds of Nikko offered roasted salamander for dinner, I had to give it a try. Not just to satisfy my curiosity and my pride, but to report back to you, dear reader, about what amphibi-lizard on a stick tastes like.

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【TBT】From My Neighbor Totoro to Ninja Turtles: Anime food in real life!

Few things could delight kids (and big kids!) more than mimicking their favourite TV shows, movies and videogames, and sitting down to the exact same meal that their heroes enjoy.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles always had the most mouth-watering pizza; Ponyo and Sousuke had home-made ramen noodles; Pop-eye had canned spinach… OK, so maybe not every cartoon meal is the greatest, but putting together food that looks exactly as it did in our favourite shows is sure to inspire even the most kitchen-shy of us to have a go, not to mention encourage fussy eaters to try something new.

If it’s anime-inspired food you’re looking for, cooking website Bistro Animeshi (a combination of “anime” and “meshi”, meaning rice or food) has everything from the fish pie delivered by Kiki herself in Kiki’s Delivery Service to Naruto’s favourite ramen noodles. As well as providing step-by-step recipes for each dish, the food blog makes every effort to match the original dishes as much as possible. We’re sure that you’ll be blown away by what they have to offer.

Plenty of tantalising food photos after the jump!

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Slow News Day Special: Save your snacks in style with this moderately clever “lifehack”

The idea of the “lifehack” – at least as far as the Internet knows it – has been around long enough that we’ve long since progressed from wide-eyed, childlike wonderment at the simple genius of saving a bagel in a CD spindle, to dubiousness and bafflement at the increasingly complex and hit-or-miss lifehacks folks are tossing out these days.

So, forgive us for still being on the fence about how we feel towards this next lifehack: Behold, the “Baby Wipe Lid Chip Saver.”

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Enjoy latte art at home in seconds with the amazingly easy-to-use Deco Latte strips

We like latte art, and its frothy 3-D variant, as much as the next group of visually stimulated coffee sippers. But as nice as it is to have a trained barista decorate your drink with a kitty or smiley face, most of us don’t have the time, equipment, or manual dexterity to add illustrations to drinks we make for ourselves.

But now those artistic flourishes don’t have to be something you can only have when you go out and pay five bucks for a cup of coffee, with new products that’ll let you enjoy latte art at home for about as much effort as tossing a cube of sugar into your mug.

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No offense, Russia, but some of your food-art can be pretty terrible

Okay, so first off, I just want to start by saying I promise to avoid any “In Mother Russia, xxxx eat you!” jokes in this article, as tempting (and as easy) as it may be to do so.

But, that said: come on, Russia! You’re jockeying with China for worst food-art fails of all time here. While Japan has been busy cranking out new and innovative ways to create beautiful and sometimes seemingly impossible food-art masterpieces, other regions are definitely falling behind with, at best hilarious fails and, at worst, nightmare-inducing food abominations.

Let’s take a look at a few food-art fails from Russia:

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Amateur ramen chef wins first place in cooking contest, refuses to accept cash prize

Salty, delicious, and easy to customize to specific tastes – everyone loves ramen. Perhaps that’s why the Tokyo Ramen Show 2014 attracted so many visitors, who flocked to watch up-and-coming ramen chefs battling it out for the title of  “Best Newcomer.” The eventual winner was Mr. Takeo Kanda, with his special “Sea Chicken Ramen”. But Mr. Kanda isn’t even a ramen chef – he’s just an ordinary salaryman. And in a shocking move, he refused to accept his cash prize of 500,000 yen (US$4,500).

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An American in Paradise: Shabu-shabu and sushi buffet in Yokohama

As the weather gets chillier, shabu-shabu becomes an ideal dinner. Think delicately thin slices of meat cooked to your liking in a bubbling broth, then dipped in your favorite sauce and delivered direct to your tummy. What could possibly be better than a satisfying meal of all-you-can-eat shabu-shabu, you might wonder? Well, we hit jackpot when we found this restaurant in Yokohama which serves all-you-can-eat shabu-shabu and sushi, all for a low, low price of 1,799 yen (US$16).

In the spirit of gourmet discovery, we wasted no time in bringing along our Japanese-food-loving American friend Ike for some face-stuffing.

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Can we have a parfait? Pretty please, with fried shrimp on top?

Let’s say you’re designing a menu for a restaurant, and you want to serve parfaits. More precisely, you want to serve as many different kinds of parfaits as you can think up. How far do you think you could make it towards that goal before things got completely crazy?

Apparently the tipping point to culinary weirdness is about 195 varieties. How did we calculate that? Well, on a recent visit to Kyoto, we found a café that has about 200 different types of parfaits, including five that’re topped with things like corn dogs and deep-fried prawns.

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Ghibli food brought to life for one week of amazing lunches at elementary school in Japan

Recreating food from our favorite movies and anime is nothing new. We’ve already seen ramen straight out of Naruto and herring and pumpkin pot pie a la Kiki’s Delivery Service. But what is unusual is that this time it’s not die-hard anime fans breathing life into 2-D delicacies, but a cafeteria at one school in Japan. You won’t believe this special school menu featuring a week of delicious looking dishes from some of Hayao Miyazaki’s most famous works.

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Funny ad shows new apple product that’s still prone to bending, compatible with our stomach

We’re still pretty happy with our new iPhone 6, but if we’re being completely honest, just a bit of our euphoria has faded. Sure, we were all giddy smiles on launch day (especially since we were first in line, again), but truth be told, we’re already on the lookout for the next big thing.

So imagine our excitement when we saw a print ad for a new apple product, and yes, that’s apple with a lowercase “a.”

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Butter Crisis ’14: Supermarkets nationwide apologize for empty shelves, cakes threatened

For months now a crisis has been brewing in the dairy industries of Japan. However, like the gooey sweetness of a melting pat of butter penetrating the crevices of a piece of toast, the effects have only recently begun to seep into the general population. We’re still only in the early stages though and things are bound to get worse before they get better.

Some readers who live in Japan may have noticed that the cost of butter has been significantly higher in recent months. In other cases shelves have gone empty and purchases are limited to one per person.

Now the writing is smeared on the wall: Japan is running out of butter… and fast.

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600-yen Chinese buffet opens in Tokyo, Americans rejoice

Although slightly paradoxical, there’s kind of nothing more American than the good ol’ Chinese buffet.

The Chinese buffet is an American fixture that takes an imported cuisine (basically the only thing America really has) and twists it to suit American tastes. Over the years, it’s become a classic staple of the American diet, fortune cookies and all. Also there’s probably something to be said about the American dream – “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,” and all that – beneath all the MSG and faux duck meat. Whatever.

So American expats, nostalgic for their weekly family fix of spicy staples like General Tso’s chicken and other incongruous Asian fusion dishes, must be rejoicing at the news that there’s now a Chinese buffet in Tokyo serving all-you-can-eat Chinese classics for a measly 600 yen (US$5.50).

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