Kuzo

Kanto region gripped in the grip of a couple inches of snow: “I have to change my underwear!”

On 8 February, the skies over Tokyo and much of the Kanto region darkened. Ominous clouds suddenly began to steadily sprinkle the urban center with fluffy flakes of snow. However, in an area not used to such weather conditions, chaos ensued. Residents urged loved ones to stay indoors if possible while others flocked to supermarkets to load up on supplies. Our own Kuzo – who’s no stranger to reporting from dangerous environments such as North Korea and the spa-resort town of Évian-les-Bains, France – took to the streets of Tokyo to see how everyone was coping with the nearly three inches of snow that had strickened them.

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The happiest airline story ever: Man and smartphone reunited by awesome customer service

Airports and airlines frequently get a bad rap. The internet alone has more complaints about air travel than and episode of Evening at the Improv. However, buried deep among the stories of security gropings, crushed luggage and delayed flights lie some uplifting stories to restore your faith in humanity.

A while back we reported on JAL’s kind move to provide specialized guitar cases free of charge. That’s swell, but this story about what happened to our reporter Kuzo on his return flight on ANA after eating some dancing squid will brighten your day and remind you what customer service is all about.

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We try some Taiwanese dishes to boost our vigor, includes snake venom and turtles

RocketNews24 reporter extraordinaire Kuzo was feeling a little at half-mast recently and was looking for some ways to put some lead in his pencil, and fast.

Luckily he heard about some Taiwanese dishes that promise to boost stamina and went out in search of them. What he found was some snake, softshell turtle, and Asian ginseng soups. Par for the course for our gourmet reporter but these soups were also served with the bodily fluids of the animals such as blood and poison. If that doesn’t get Kuzo up and going we don’t know what will.

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Sushi-Flavored Meiji Curl Snacks From Thailand Only Taste Like Seaweed

It looks like Thailand is coming out with all the cool foods this week. First it was the McGrilled Chicken Curry Rice at McDonald’s (hurry on over, it’s only sold for a limited time), now we found bags of sushi-flavored Meiji Curl snacks in a Thai convenience store.

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Burger King’s Controversial Anime Viewing Burger: Rip-Off or Work of Art?

Word has been swirling in the weeks leading up to the release of Burger King’s “anime viewing hamburger” which, as its name suggests, is a burger designed to be enjoyed while watching anime. Watching anime certainly would be an ideal snacking time, so the concept seems solid, but how is it really?

Our fast food specialist Kuzo went to investigate. Here is his report.

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Spy on North Korea for Only 32 Cents!

The city of Dandong lies on the border of China and North Korea separated by the 900-meter wide Yalu River. Taking the China-North Korea Friendship Bridge would take you right into Sinuiju, North Korea, if you have the right permission.

However, word has it that there’s a place upstream of the Yalu where it is only three or four meters across. The place is known as Yibu Kua (“a step across”) due to the fact that one could easily step into the other country by walking across the stones in the river.  RocketNews24‘s Kuzo went to check it out.

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Mr. Sato Gets a Turkish Makeover with “A Popular Hairstyle” of the Nation

Our Mr. Sato has struggled with hairstyles in the past, and his troubles are compounded further by his jet-setting international lifestyle. A hairstyle that’s cool in one country can be totally dorky in another. The mullet’s continued success in Japan is testament to that.

So, when visiting Turkey recently, our reporter went to a barber and asked for “a popular hairstyle in Turkey.” Could this be the start of a sexier Mr. Sato?

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You’ll Never Guess What’s for Breakfast at McDonald’s in Turkey

For tourists everywhere, McDonald’s offers a taste of familiarity. Granted it’s not sophisticated or healthy, but for travelers feeling overwhelmed by language or cultural barriers there is no better quick escape.

However, visitors to Turkey may be shocked at what they find in the local McDonald’s there.  For those fleeting breakfast hours the Turkish McDonald’s breakfast combos as we know them take on a totally new form, and I guarantee it’s the last thing you’d expect from McDonald’s.

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Ronald McDonald and Donald Duck’s Illegitimate Love Child Discovered in Myanmar

This is the end♪My only friend the end♫

“Yangon… $#@%. I’m still only in Yangon!” Kuzo thought to himself as he awoke in his hotel room in Yangon (aka Rangoon), the largest city in Myanmar (aka Burma). He had been sent on a mission from RocketNews24 to find the fabled spawn of forbidden love between two high ranking mascots – Donald Duck and Ronald McDonald.

Code named Ronald McDonald Duck, it was rumored to be doing small-time rep work for a fast food joint around the city.

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McDonald’s Japan’s Texas Burger: Our Reporter Takes One for the Team

McDonald’s Japan’s Texas burger is back, but it won’t be around for long! Having missed out on the chunky beef sandwich the last time they invaded the country, our man Kuzo headed down to his nearest restaurant and grabbed a couple to poke, prod and shove down his gullet. The experience left him confused: there’s plenty here to delight burger fans, that’s for sure, but not everything about this little slice of Texas is worth writing home out. Kuzo’s full impressions after the break.

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A Very Berry Ramen Experience — “Susususustrawberry Ramen”

Here at RocketNews24, we’ve certainly brought to you our share of stories on unusual ramen noodles, from chilled blue ramen to ramen that’s too disgusting to eat. Well, once again, one of our reporters was brave enough to try another very, shall we say, “interesting” ramen. And yes, as you can tell from the picture, it contains … strawberries. Read More

North Korea’s High Class International Hotel! Our Reporter Mustered Up His Courage and Checked it Out First Hand.

In recent years, North Korea has received attention for its provocative behavior towards neighboring countries and its desire to prove itself on the technologically and militarily scale, increasingly pushing itself ‘emerging nation’. Last year’s infamous set of failed Windows XP-powered missile launches didn’t help.

More recently, there has been a clear shift towards North Korea presenting itself not as a country of restriction and famine, but one of rising social and cultural prosperity. A prime example of this would be the public release of pictures of fully-fledged amusement parks and public amenities. Just what North Korea’s intentions behind all of this are remain a bit of a mystery, but one cannot help wonder exactly what type of facilities are on offer and how they compare to the rest of the world in terms of quality and convenience.

In 2012 our reporter, Kuzo, stayed in North Korea’s Yanggakdo International Hotel in Pyongyan. Read about his impressions of the hotel and the room he stayed in below!

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Messing with These Vending Machines May Result in Severing of Fingers and/or Published Photos of Your Genitals

Rumor has it that among the numerous maid cafés, manga, DVD, and video game shops in Akihabara, Tokyo, there exists a unique corner full of vending machines.

The machines contain typical fare for Japan – colas, teas, snacks, condoms, and such – but are guarded by savage penalties unbecoming of the general levels of politeness in this country. In fact, often involving dismemberment, these penalties seem more at home in a bleak post-apocalyptic Thunderdome type society than urban Tokyo.

Few know about this legendary group of vending machines outside of Akihabara aficionados. So our reporter, Kuzo, decided to venture up the electric river of Akihabara in search of the Heart of Vending Machine Darkness.

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LSH Pork Cutlet: It’s Finger Sucking Good!

Everyone wants a little KFC, but Asia in particular has embraced the greasy wings served up by everyone’s favorite self-made restaurateur Colonel Sanders.  In Japan, the Colonel is so beloved his statues can be found outside of nearly every franchise – often in costume.  He even enjoys the same privacy rights as other citizens.

He is also the victim of various copycats this side of the Pacific. In Korea there is said to be a knock-off restaurant operating right next to a legitimate KFC in broad daylight.  We sent Kuzo in for reconnaissance.

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Korean Feces Wine is a Real Thing and We’ve Got Two Bottles of it, Contains Cat Bones as Well

Ttongsul, or “feces wine”, is a Korean drink made by pouring soju, a distilled grain alcohol,  into a pit filled with chicken, dog, or human feces, and leaving the mixture in the pit for three to four months until it ferments. It is then extracted from the pit and drank straight, with the belief that it can cure illness and help in the aid of bone fractures.

It sounds like the stuff of urban legends, but Ttongsul is indeed a real beverage that, while by no means popular, can still be found if you know where to look.

How can we be sure? After nearly six months of extensive research, RocketNews24 was able to track down a private Ttongsul vendor in South Korea and procure a bottle of the elusive feces wine ourselves.

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Curry Hamburger: Delicious! Nutritious!! Contains Cesium!!! Our Brave Reporter Investigates

It’s not every day that you hear of a dish whose ingredients include a chemical element.

When most people hear of cesium, they probably think of either high school chemistry class or, if you happened to be glued to the TV during last year’s nuclear disaster in Fukushima, the element’s association with radiation…

So when a restaurant in central Tokyo openly advertising a lunch-time curry featuring a “cesium burger” came to our attention, we had to check it out.

Our brave food reporter Kuzo headed into town to find out whether the rumours were true and, if they were, to see what on earth a meal featuring a potentially hazardous chemical substance could taste like…

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New York’s Famous Restaurant Sarabeth’s Opens a Branch in Shinjuku, May Not Have What it Takes to be Popular in Japan

Sarabeth’s is a popular New York bakery restaurant chain featuring a breakfast menu loved by the locals since 1981, and has become such a huge part of New York food culture that it has influenced movies, TV, and publishing. And now Sarabeth’s has finally arrived in Japan, opening a branch in Shinjuku at the beginning of this month.

Rocketnews24 correspondent/foodie extraordinaire Kuzo went to check it out!

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Ramen Stand Ranks First for Sweets and Oden, Such Mouth Watering Variety (but what about the ramen?)

Ramen stands can be found all over Japan, and Fukuoka prefecture is no exception. But there probably aren’t many ramen stands out there that are popular with the locals for just about everything but ramen. Maruwamae, located in Kokura, Fukuoka, is one such ramen shop.

According to Tabelogu, a local restaurant review site akin to Yelp, ramen shop Maruwama is ranked first in the city for the best sweets and the best oden. In particular, reviews rave that their ohagi and kinako mochi surpass all cake, cookie, and Japanese sweet shops— a reputation that’s sure to have the competition cringing. Their ramen, by the way, is ranked fourth.

First, for those unfamiliar with the dishes, oden is a winter soup dish consisting of a number of ingredients which are anything from octopus, fish cakes, and boiled eggs, to konbu seaweed, daikon radish, and potatoes; all skewered on wooden sticks and simmered in a huge pot of tasty broth and eaten with yellow mustard. Ohagi and kinako mochi, the sweets available at Maruwamae, are sticky mochi rice cakes covered in sweet bean paste and sweetened soybean flour, respectively.

While oden we could understand, it’s a wonder that a ramen stand is ranked first for sweets, which is why we sent resident RocketFoodie Kuzo to see and taste for himself!

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We Made a Big Black BigMac

Aside from their yearly Big America burgers, McDonald’s Japan is usually mild-mannered when it comes to gimmicky burgers. Burger King Japan, however, is the flashy, too-much-making-wearing stepsister of the far more popular McDonald’s. From the Pumpkin Bomb Burger, filled with deep-fried pieces of kabocha to the BK RiNGO Burger filled with grilled slices of apples and cinnamon, BK Japan has produced their fair share of shocking burgers.

Arguably the most shocking burger to grace the “BK Lounge” was the completely black Kuro Burger, released in September.

Since McDonald’s doesn’t have a black version of their signature sandwich, our resident foodie, Kuzo, decided to make his own Black BigMac…a BigBlack if you will.
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Nara Noodle Shop’s Revolutionary and Fun Way to Eat Udon From a Draw String Bag!

As fall turns into winter, Japanese people look to food such as hot noodle dishes as a tasty way to warm up.  Udon noodles, in particular, are great during the winter, and nothing beats slurping up a steaming bowl of udon on a cold day.

We discovered a unique way to eat hot udon noodles at Mentouan, a noodle shop in Nara.  When you order a bowl of udon at Mentouan, you are presented with what appears to be a small pouch floating in broth…but you can’t see the noodles!

Following his report of Kyoto’s gigantic one-noodle udon, our resident foodie Kuzo went to Mentouan to try this “invisible udon” for himself. Read More

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