food

Can you guess the second Japanese inspiration behind this Polish artist’s beautiful illustration?

As someone who’s been a fan of anime and manga since long before they were as internationally popular as they are today, I’m always kind of happy when I see their visual cues show up in artwork from other countries. Sometimes it comes in high-profile productions, like when The Simpsons gave a tip of their animated hat to Studio Ghibli, but at the same, there are countless less well-known designers and artists whose styles can be traced to Japan’s cartoons and comics.

Take Polish illustrator Magdalena “Meago” Kania, for example, and her drawing of a blond with exquisitely thick, wavy hair who also sports the facial features and proportions commonly associated with anime and manga. But those aren’t the only Japanese inspirations the illustration contains, as we can spot one more when we take a step back and look at the whole picture.

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Smartphone game turns mushrooms into cute anime girls, still gives foreigners wacky accents

There aren’t many foods I hate more than mushrooms. I’ve got issues with both their taste and texture, and, to my eyes, they just look kind of gross, no matter which variety we’re talking about.

But while I don’t think I’ll ever completely come around on the idea of eating fungi, it’s nice to at least have a different visual image for them, thanks to a new smartphone game that’s turned a half-dozen types of mushrooms into cute anime girls.

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We eat the Resident Evil curry, discover it’s very tasty, not at all itchy 【Taste test】

It might be hard to imagine, what the guns-blazing nature of its live-action film adaptations and later video game sequels, but the original PlayStation Biohazard, retitled Resident Evil for its overseas release, was remarkably stingy with its weapons and ammo. Having to make the most of every bullet meant waiting until enemies were as close as possible before deciding whether or not to fire, but being a fraction of a second too late let the game’s powerful zombies tear into your tasty human flesh.

As such, smart players always kept a green healing herb on themselves, to help fill up their life meter. Now, survival horror fans can use green herbs to fill up their stomachs, as Biohazard curry is now on sale in Japan. Curious to know whether a dish based on a game featuring flesh-eating monsters could ever be truly tasty, we grabbed a pack for ourselves.

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Sayonara, spuds! McDonald’s Japan halts sales of medium and large orders of French fries

I’m heading back to the U.S. for a couple of days at the end of the year, and as much as I love Japan, it’ll be nice to spend some time doing things I can’t here. Aside from seeing family and friends, I’m looking forward to watching a college bowl game or two, plus soaking up some warm January sunshine, which tends to be much more plentiful in California than Kanagawa Prefecture.

And as long as I’m making a list of things you can’t do in Japan, I should probably add getting a large batch of French fries at McDonald’s, since, for the time being, the chain will only be selling small sizes of spuds in Japan.

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Have a rice cake! Have a tangerine! Why not have both with the visually stunning mikan daifuku?

Eating sweet tangerines, or mikan as we call them here, while snuggled in a warm kotatsu table is a favorite winter pastime in Japan. (And believe us when we say it becomes a struggle to leave the comfortable warmth of the kotatsu for anything short of a grave emergency.)

Well, thanks to Japanese confection maker Akasaka Aono, you can now enjoy winter tangerines in a slightly unique form. They’ve wrapped a whole tangerine inside a soft daifuku rice cake! Now, that’s certainly an unusual presentation for a daifuku, so it’s not surprising that the Japanese public has taken notice, and since we’re always on the lookout for interesting foods, one of the reporters from our Japanese sister site Pouch promptly tried the cake to give all of us a first hand account. Let’s hear what she had to say about the unique tangerine and mochi confection!

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We steel our hearts and sample Namikoshiken’s too-cute-to-eat, aquarium-themed wagashi sweets

Do you remember our recent article that showcased Japanese confectioner Namikoshiken’s adorable menagerie of bite-sized manjū (sweet steamed buns)? Last week, out of sheer luck and coincidence, I received a box of the Suizokukan (aquarium) variety from a family friend who went on a trip to Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture, where the 87-year-old company is based. So of course, this calls for a taste test!

Read on to find out more about the wagashi treats and to view close-up photos of each lovable suizokukan resident. Was this writer able to harden her heart and mercilessly sink her teeth into these little guys? Anything for RocketNews24!

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Restaurant refuses to serve couples on Dec. 24 so singles won’t be reminded of their loneliness

Ah, December 24, Christmas Eve. The time to spend with parents, siblings, drunken aunts and that one crazy uncle that’s always telling you about chemtrails after four or five eggnogs. Or, the time for romantic dinner dates, proposals and convenience store chicken, if you’re in Japan.

The holiday has long been the bane of Tokyo singles, who are forced to watch thousands of happy couples marching all over town Christmas Eve, hand-in-hand, checking out the Christmas “illumination” shows that have become so popular over the years. That it’s one of the few times public displays of affection are relatively accepted in polite Japanese society just makes it all the more difficult for lonely guys and gals to bear.

But, this year, one Tokyo restaurant has a plan to give all those Forever Alones out there a safe haven to dine in peace on Christmas Eve and, who knows, maybe even find a potential partner.

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We’re hard-pressed to find anything not delicious in the new tamatoro pressed tonkatsu sandwich

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that people in Japan don’t like fried food. Well, you can let them say it, but don’t believe them. As skilled as the country is with lighter fare such as sushi and nabe hot pot, Japanese cuisine can totally nail fried food, as proven by tonkatsu, or deep-fried pork cutlet.

One of the tastiest ways to eat tonkatsu is served over rice and topped with a fried egg, a dish called katsudon. Conversely, you can also slap two pieces of bread around it and make a katsu sandwich, which allows you to enjoy your cutlet on the go, or theoretically hold one in each hand and eat two at a time.

Sadly, eating your tonkatsu in sandwich form used to mean giving up all that delicious, gooey egg. That’s all changed now, though, thanks to the awesome tamatoro sandwiches now on sale in Tokyo that let you have the best of both worlds.

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Aomori’s ramen restaurant in a bus serves up steaming hot noodles in the snow

Ramen shops are a dime a dozen, so what makes this one in Aomori Prefecture so special? Well, it’s in a bus! One writer over at Another Tokyo reported on his experience at this one-of-a-kind Japanese eatery.

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Survey ranks convenience store rice balls – salmon, sea-dwelling poultry & plants steal the show

Known to many in the English-speaking world simply as rice balls, onigiri are as much a part of daily life in Japan as sandwiches are in the West. Although they’re often eaten as snacks or included along with a handful of other items as a packed lunch, for many Japanese onigiri are the ultimate comfort food; something that, no matter which part of the country they find themselves in, they can easily make or pick up from a convenience store.

Of course, store-bought onigiri can never come close to those pressed into shape by someone who knows their way around a rice cooker, but they always hit the spot nevertheless, and hundreds of thousands of these little lumps of savoury goodness are eaten every single day. But what are Japan’s most loved convenience store rice balls? And do tastes vary from chain to chain? Well, according to a recent survey, there are three onigiri fillings that Japan is especially fond of.

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Hi-Chew is such a hit that the Japanese candy is getting its own factory in North Carolina

Every time I go back to the States to see my family, before hopping on the plane, I swing by the convenience store to pick up some treats for my nieces and nephew. I figure if I can’t do anything about being “Uncle Who Only Visits Once a Year,” then I’m at least going to be “Uncle Who Only Visits Once a Year, but Brings Candy!”

The stuff I get for them isn’t anything particularly fancy. A few pieces of melon bread, whatever the newest mix of matcha green tea and chocolate is, and maybe a few packs of fruity Hi-Chew candy. This year might be my last chance to score some easy points with that last one, though, since in 2015 the makers of Hi-Chew are opening a factory in the U.S. to satisfy America’s sweet tooth with Japanese candy.

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You might never eat seafood again after you watch this horrifying lobster molting on land

When we posted a video of an enormous, pulsating, terrifying spider crab slowly escaping the confines of its old shell and setting off in search of new digs and (probably) human souls, we thought that was about the most horrifying the process of molting could really get.

Then we saw this video of a spiny lobster molting on land. We will never be the same.

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Curry and melon bread! Together…at last? Anyway, Yamazaki’s new curry melon bread is here

We’ve talked before about melon bread, one of Japan’s most tempting baked goods that doesn’t really taste anything like the fruit it takes half its name from. But as delicious as the sugar-dusted outer layer is, the inside isn’t anything more than plain old bread, which is why some bakeries add fillings like custard or even ice cream.

One bakery, though, has decided to spice things up literally by filling its melon bread with curry.

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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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