food

Foodies in Japan can’t stop freaking out over how good peaches and mozzarella tastes

Twitter and Instagram has been buzzing about a new dish to hit Japanese kitchens: sweet peaches mixed with mozzarella cheese. And based on the reviews written by social-media-loving cooks in Japan, it’s the greatest dish in the history of food. Let’s take a closer look at how to rustle up this interesting grub and read some glowing reviews.

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Not quite ready for ochazuke, rice with green tea? You might want to try using cola instead

In Japanese cuisine, one of the easiest dishes to prepare is ochazuke, or a bowl of rice mixed with tea. While you can spruce it up with things such as plum, salmon, or spicy cod roe, the rice and tea are really all you need.

But while almost all Japanese people enjoy an occasional ochazuke session, some foreigners find it a little unnatural to pour what’s generally a beverage over their food. The whole thing becomes even less attractive if you’re not a particularly big fan of the Japanese green tea that’s normally used.

So if you’re interested in gradually easing yourself into ochazuke, maybe you’d prefer to start with a less astringent beverage, like cola.

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We try colorful macarons at a McDonald’s in Shanghai

McDonald’s joints all around the world have some of the most interesting items. There’s of course Chicken Curry Rice in Thailand, American vintage burgers in Japan, and ramen at one McDonald’s in the US (of all places!). But we’ve never seen anything quite this fancy at a fast food restaurant anywhere, so we sent one of our reporters to check out the colorful macarons at a McDonald’s in Shanghai.

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Anna and Elsa ready to visit homes in January with Frozen New Year’s osechi meals

In Japan, it’s customary to celebrate the New Year with osechi, meals made of a large number of painstakingly prepared and beautifully presented small dishes. Traditionally, women would prepare all of the osechi for their families ahead of time, setting aside New Year’s Day itself for feasting leisurely.

Of course, the price for that relaxation on January 1 is a frantic bout of cooking at the end of December. Hoping to avoid that, more and more households have begun buying pre-made osechi, either to replace or supplement a smaller quantity of home-cooked food.

Mass-produced osechi doesn’t come cheap, though, so we imagine some people might scoff at the idea of buying Frozen osechi, until you realize that it’s Frozen with a capital F, as in Disney’s runaway computer-animated hit.

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Seriously? Olive oil!? Turn ice cream into gourmet gelato with this easy but fattening trick

When I was a kid, I used to love using a spoon to whip my ice cream into a fluffy consistency. While it significantly sped up the ice cream’s melt time, I found the new texture I’d created a lot more agreeable than the spoon-bending hardness of the straight-from-the-freezer stuff. It never occurred to my sugar-addled, 10-year-old mind that in the process of whipping up my ice cream, I was actually making a sort of off-brand homemade gelato.

But now that I’ve grown older and my palate has matured, I still enjoy the ice cream whipping trick, but don’t do it as frequently as I used to. There’s just something missing. To my 30-year-old taste buds that have known such exotic delicacies as fugu, unagi, foie gras, street tacos and meatball subs, it’s just mushy ice cream.

But now, thanks to this secret trick we found on the Japanese Interwebs, I’ve rekindled my love for Poor Man’s Gelato.

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What’s better than sushi? Ramen sushi!

If you look closely at the photo above, you’ll see that inside this sushi roll there’s no rice. Instead, it’s filled with the goodness of instant noodles!

The lifeblood of students, singles and people who just don’t have time to cook, the humble noodle has been used in many ways over the years and now it’s seeing a new dawn, wrapped in a roll and plated up as sushi. And did I mention this baby is wrapped in bacon?

We’ll give you the easy, step-by-step recipe after the jump, but purists be warned: the following images may disturb. Everybody else: come on in and take a seat!

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Lupin III comes full circle as live-action cast turns into anime characters for bread line

Since I am in no way a gentleman thief, I can only guess as to what that lifestyle must be like. I imagine though, that staying one step ahead of the law means a lot of meals on the run, so it makes sense that Japan Railway stations are rolling out a new batch of baked goods endorsed by anime’s most roguish criminal mastermind, Lupin III.

The timing no doubt has something to do with the upcoming release of the live-action Lupin III movie. Even purists who scoff at the shift away from animation might want to check out the Lupin breads though, as their packages feature redone anime designs for the cast based on the actors portraying them in the new film.

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We take Doraemon home and eat him (in cream bun form)【Taste test】

To get an idea of just what a huge cultural icon Doraemon is in Japan, all you have to do is take a look at the theatrical versions of the anime robot cat’s adventures. The first Doraemon movie was released in 1980, and a new film in the franchise has hit Japanese theatres like clockwork every year since, with the lone exception of 2005. Perhaps in apology for the tiny break in the streak, Doraemon’s producers gave us two films this year. The second just premiered this month, and even though Stand by Me Doraemon is the 35th movie in the series, it still breaks new ground by being the first to be computer-animated.

CG isn’t the only new frontier the beloved character is challenging though, as he’s going one more place he’s never been before: our bellies, in the form of the Doraemon cream bun.

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Japanese mother creates beautiful, educational bentos that resemble Japan’s prefectures

Making eye-catching bento lunch boxes is a big deal in Japan. Walk into any bookstore and you’re bound to find a least a dozen books teaching you how to make adorable characters out of rice and seaweed. Amble by any off-campus elementary school event where the kids are required to bring a lunch from home, and you’ll hear squeals of “KAWAIII!!!” as someone’s mom most definitely made Pikachu out of cheese. But while most bento feature cute vocaloids or giant titans, this mother’s lunches have an educational twist. Let’s take a tour of Japan’s prefectures made out of food by talented mother and Twitter user, Sasariri.

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Service with a tear? MOS Burger branch says hello with tales of loneliness, sleepless nights

Among Japanese fast food chains, MOS Burger tries to position itself as being just a little more upscale than its rivals. Sure, the prices are a little higher, but the ingredients taste a little fresher, their customer service a little better, and if your order isn’t to go, they’ll serve your drink in a glass instead of a paper cup.

A lot of MOS branches even add a personal touch by putting a blackboard in front of their entrance with a new message written on it each day. The one in my neighborhood, for example, usually has some sort of seasonal or daily greeting like, “There’s a fireworks festival tonight. We hope everyone who’s going has a great time!”

But things aren’t so chipper in Kawasaki, where the staff of one MOS Burger have decided to use their board to let everyone passing by know about their physical and romantic ailments.

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Last night, a fast food delivery guy gave me 10 yen and it made my day

After living here for any decent length of time, it’s easy to grow tired of the seemingly endless slew of blogs either singing Japan’s praises or celebrating its weirdness. But the thing is, there’s a reason so many of them exist. While many of the claims bloggers in Japan make are somewhat exaggerated or simply rehashes of the same experiences foreigners arriving in the country decades earlier had, there are nevertheless times when living in Japan can make you realise that the country is actually quite special.

Just last night, for example, I found myself the recipient of a tiny but powerful gesture that made me feel – after more than eight years of living here – that Japan is pretty damn cool sometimes.

Last night, dear reader, a fast food company gave me 10 yen. That’s about US$0.09.

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We try a “half-raw chicken cutlet” at Suda Shoten, it’s even rawer than advertised!

Always on the pulse of new restaurant openings, Mr. Sato hit the streets of Kabukicho to try out a new grilled chicken (yakitori) establishment. It was opened in conjunction with Jiromaru, a barbecued beef place much loved by our reporter for its small portions but interesting variety of cuts.

Because of the association with Jiromaru, Mr. Sato’s expectations were high for Sumibi Yakitori Suda Shoten. However, as he approached the menu posted in front, one item in particular shocked the man whom we thought unflappable after attempting to eat a cheeseburger with over 1,000 strips of bacon.

It was a breaded chicken cutlet but written in parentheses was “half-raw.” Sure, steaks are often ordered in such a way, but chicken?! And so Mr. Sato, who doesn’t know the meaning of “salmonella,” went in to try some out.

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A gourmet family restaurant? Six reasons why you should go to a Denny’s in Japan

Have you ever been to a Denny’s in Japan? If not, Yoshio, one of the reporters from our Japanese site, thinks it would be worth your while to make a visit to the family restaurant when you’re in Japan. Why? Well, Denny’s in Japan has quite a varied and tasty menu that’s quite different from what you can get in the United States. In fact, Yoshio says that one of his American friends even calls Denny’s in Japan the “gourmet Denny’s”! So, today we bring you six reasons from Yoshio why Denny’s in Japan is a great eatery that you should visit if you have the chance, and may even be the first restaurant you should go to in Japan.

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Enjoy some Shan cuisine with a side order of caterpillars at Tokyo’s Nong Inlay restaurant

Recent studies have been suggesting that the human race would be far better off adopting an insect diet in order to preserve the environment. However, anytime we see a culture who partakes in edible insects they always look incredibly unappetizing.

Why is insect the one food that people refuse to cut up when eating? When I order a salad the restaurant doesn’t toss a head of lettuce on my table, and yet order a plate of crickets and it’d be a miracle if they even pull the antennae off before serving.

Still, if mass insect consumption is on the horizon and chefs refuse to make them not look like insects while eating, we’re going to have to get used to it. That’s exactly why a couple of our writers, Felix Sayaka and Ikuko Kawamura went down to Nong Inlay in Shinjuku to try out some caterpillars along with some other dishes out of the Shan State of Myanmar.

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Can’t get curry in your belly without getting it on your clothes? Kill the stain with the sun

A few days after I started doing homestay in Tokyo, I sat down for a meal with my host family, picked up a morsel of food with my chopsticks, and promptly dropped it onto my shirt. “Don’t worry, you’ll get used to using chopsticks soon enough,” they encouragingly told me, but the fact of the matter is that I’m just an incredibly messy and clumsy eater.

My choice of utensil doesn’t really seem to make much of a difference. Curry, for example, is eaten with a spoon in Japan, and I’ve still managed to spill spicy roux on myself plenty of times, usually when I’m wearing a new shirt. Thankfully, though, there’s apparently an easy way to get curry stains out: sunlight.

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Survey picks Japan’s top 12 cheap chain restaurants

In Japan, the common thinking is that if you want the absolute best-tasting food, you have to go to an independently run restaurant, generally with a long wait for tables and/or high prices on the menu. But what about those times when you’re hungry, but not in the mood to spend a large chunk of either your free time or disposable income on a meal?

That’s when you turn to one of Japan’s national chains, and if you can’t decide which, maybe this survey on the top 12 chain restaurants in Japan can help you.

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5 awesome Japanese ice creams that are perfect for summer 【Video】

It’s the middle of August, and while the days we’ve been having recently aren’t quite as face-meltingly hot as those a couple of weeks ago, it is nevertheless still pretty toasty out there. Thankfully, just like when suffering with a cold or sore throat, the summer heat does afford us one very tasty luxury: a genuine excuse to gorge on delicious ice cream!

If you’re feeling the heat this summer, or are just curious about some of Japan’s go-to ice cream treats, join us after the jump for a special video featuring five of our frozen favourites.

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A Fujoshi’s heaven on earth exists in Ikebukuro’s Boy’s Love Academy cafe

Japan should officially be known as the land of themed cafés. From cat cafés to owl cafés, character cafés and maid cafés… there’s even a café where you can pay 980 yen (US$9.57) to get two young men to share a stick of Pocky. Mouth to mouth. And that’s not all that is on their fantasy-inducing menu.

Regardless if you’re a fujoshi (girls who are fans of homoerotic fiction) or not, you should take a peek behind this particular curtain, because honestly, this probably isn’t something you’d get to see on an average day!

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Japan asks if bananas with Sprite will make you puke, Brazilian comedians answer 【Video】

Last week, we took a look at a deeply moving diaper commercial, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the RocketNews24 office (with the exception of Mr. Sato, whose tear ducts are still clogged with cheese). Today, we’re taking a look at a different video about fluids being expelled from the body.

Wow, that sounds digesting and vague, doesn’t it? Well, to be specific, it’s a video about vomiting.

Hmm…still pretty abstract and nasty, huh? OK, one more try: It’s a video about whether or not eating a banana and then drinking Sprite will make you puke (SPARKLE!).

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Carbonated sake is selling like gangbusters, just in time to rescue the drink from its demise

While I like to think of myself as one of the more cynical and irreverent – as well as dashingly handsome and sharply dressed – writers here at RocketNews24, I occasionally do come across a subject I’d rather approach with a more measured, sober point of view. Like, for example, the subject of sweet, sweet booze!

It might come as a shock to people whose primary brushes with Japanese culture come from visits to their local, non-Japan-based Japanese teppan restaurant or izakaya, but sake – the country’s national alcoholic beverage – is kind of in dire straights nowadays. The traditional, rice-based drink basically has been getting steamrolled by imported drinks like beer and wine, which have less of a “learning curve” to fully enjoy and thus appeal more to young people in Japan.

Since the 1970s, when the drink still faced stiff competition from domestic beers and imported wines but was doing pretty well for itself, domestic sake sales have hit a wall, with the number of brewers falling from nearly 5,000 in that period to just 1,000 or so now. Some have turned to foreign markets, even looking into new ways to pair sake with western food, while others have tried to innovate with sparkling sake – which is kicking ass in sales numbers and might just prove to be the drink’s savior.

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