Restaurant

Cafe Talisman, Osaka’s Sailor Moon theme cafe

As we’ve previously discussed, Japan is chock full of cool little cafes. Obviously, not every single cafe in the country is going to be spectacular, but we have to say that we have found no end of fun places to sit down and order a coffee. But if you’re a Sailor Moon fan, we may have found the ultimate place to enjoy a latte: Cafe Talisman.

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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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Secrets of the sushi shops: 10 tips and tricks the chain restaurants don’t want you to know

With major restaurant chains hit by food safety scares, and a factory worker jailed last month for lacing frozen foods with pesticides, consumer confidence in the food industry in Japan is at an all-time low. Writer and food safety campaigner Hirokazu Kawagishi’s latest book is a timely contribution to this renewed skepticism about the food we eat, where it comes from, and whether it is what it claims to be. In Gaishoku no uragawa (literally, “the other side of dining out”), Kawagishi reveals the secrets behind Japan’s restaurant trade.

In an extract published in Toyo Keizai this week, Kawagishi lifts the lid on Japan’s kaitenzushi (conveyor belt sushi) with 10 pro tips to help you decide which restaurants are worth your time — and which to avoid.

Let’s take a look at what he recommends, including why you should always take a closer look at the squid; the secret significance of the hole in the soy-sauce pourer, and more tips to make sure you don’t get scammed at the sushi counter.

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American rice ball restaurant takes liberties with classic Japanese snack

The humble onigiri rice ball is the traditional Japanese answer to the sub sandwich: it’s a no-frills, on-the-go snack that balances carbs and protein and doesn’t require utensils. And just like subs, onigiri come stuffed with a huge variety of fillings, from salmon flakes to meatballs, seaweed to shrimp tempura.

And, just as “healthy” American sub sandwich chain Subway is making huge headway in Japan recently, onigiri are apparently making the journey the opposite way to American shores… But something has definitely gotten lost in translation.

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This restaurant’s in a bit of a pinch and is enlisting your help!

The other day, a Kyoto branch of popular gyūdon (beef bowl) fast-food chain Sukiya ran into some trouble. We’ll let you know upfront that the shop was not invaded by a clan of ninja, nor by a stampede of ravenous gaijin. And no, it had absolutely nothing to do with a Godzilla attack.

No, dear readers, the truth was something far more ominous. 

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We head to France to try Nutella sushi

We’ve brought you sushi doughnuts from Thailand and even cat sushi, but take a look at this Nutella sushi from France. Our office was so intrigued by the sweet Japan-inspired concoction that we sent one of our Japanese reporters over to check it out.

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Why is sushi outside of Japan so happy?

We’ve already gone over a few signs that you might not be in a real Japanese restaurant, including the location’s name. We can’t say with certainty, but we’re pretty sure there aren’t any “Happy Sushi” restaurants in all of Japan. So why are there so many abroad? Japanese website Naver Matome wondered the very same thing and compiled a list of the most elated raw fish from all around the world. It just makes us wonder, why does the world associate sushi with being happy?

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Import immediately! The top 3 Japanese chain restaurants

The first McDonald’s opened in 1940 and since that time it has grown to 35,000+ locations worldwide. Its popularity is international with people craving their “Mackers” or “McDs” or “Maccas”, so it’s no surprise how popular McDonald’s is in Japan. Would it work in reverse? What chain restaurants from Japan would be popular in the States? Our famous friend Ike, from the comedy group Choshinjuku tells us which three chain restaurants he loves the most in Japan.

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Tokyo pub offers “balding discount” for follicly-challenged diners

A Japanese pub deep in the heart of white-collar Tokyo wants to help out their customers whose heads are showing the consequences of too much stress and hard work (and perhaps a bit of genetics too).

The restaurant hopes that instead of covering their heads with a complex comb-over or taking a cue from monks to shave it all off, “salarymen” white-collar workers treat their thinning hair as a badge of honor and proof of their dedication to help the struggling Japanese economy. And to show their support, the restaurant has announced a generous “balding discount” as a way of thanking follicly-challenged gents for sacrificing their precious locks for the country!

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There’s a restaurant in China where all the food is prepared and served by robots

The Robot Restaurant in China’s Heilongjiang Province is a conventional restaurant in every sense, save the glaring exception that the food is prepared and served entirely by an army of 20 robots with just a modicum of human oversight.

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17 mouthwatering photos from the legendary sushi restaurant where Obama just ate dinner

President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe just finished a meal at Tokyo’s Sukiyabashi Jiro, one of the best sushi restaurants in the world.

Sukiyabashi Jiro is headed up by 89-year-old master chef Jiro Ono. In addition to his restaurant’s three-star Michelin rating, Jiro is widely regarded as the world’s top sushi chef and was featured in the 2011 documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.”

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Eat like the judges and lawyers of Japan at this theme restaurant in Kumamoto

Eating out at a restaurant is as common as being asked “can you use chopsticks?” But with so many restaurants vying for your patronage, how does each restaurant separate itself from the rest?

We’ve brought you stories about them before, from the pop culture themed, Gundam Cafe, AKB48 Cafe, Square Enix Cafe, and Resident Evil restaurant, to the ubiquitous maid cafes, Lock Up restaurant, robot restaurant and ninja restaurant. Theme restaurants don’t just rely on popular culture to bring in the customers though. RocketNews24 has written about the restaurant that serves you the food that prisoners eat. Click on through to find out about another unique restaurant giving you a glimpse of how somebody else eats.

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Japanese casual steak joint set to debut in New York

When one thinks of exported Japanese food, one tends to imagine sushi, miso, and other dishes that have become so ingrained in the English lexicon that they no longer warrant italics.

One thing you almost definitely don’t consider when thinking about Japanese food is steak. Why would you? Steak is the territory of Western food, often associated specifically with American diners; Which is what makes the New York debut of Ikinari Steak – a Ginza-area chain – so much more surprising.

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Japan’s cat food restaurant is back!

In celebration of Cat Day on February 22, Nestle Purina created a cat food-themed dining experience inspired by their popular “luxury cat food,” Mon Petit. Diners were treated to a full course set meal with items that resemble the snacks you’d feed to your beloved pet. With feline waiters and plenty of kitty products, the bizarre restaurant actually turned out to be a huge success. But since it was only around for a total of four days, many cat lovers and adventurous eaters were left without a chance to dine like an animal, so Restaurant Mon Petit is now back in Tokyo for an entire month.

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Stingy people rejoice as Japanese restaurants in New York introduce a ban on tipping

Please can I give you a tip? In America, we have this custom, you know. I have to tip the pizza guy. And you came all the way out here in this weather…”

The rain-drenched delivery man on the doorstep of the Japanese apartment looked mildly embarrassed as he waved away my friend’s money. It was a typhoon day – classes cancelled, school closed, and the English teachers from my school had piled into one apartment for a party. Not wanting to brave the lashing wind and rain to go out and get food, we had ordered pizza, but hadn’t counted on the guilt we would feel when the delivery guy turned up on a moped looking like he’d just jumped into a swimming pool fully clothed.

In Japan, there’s no custom of tipping. In fact, leaving a tip could potentially be considered rude, as the cost of the service is already supposed to be included in the price you pay. My American buddy’s attempt to follow his home custom in Japan ended in the delivery driver apologising profusely for not accepting the tip! In New York City, meanwhile, Japanese restaurants are bringing the no-tipping custom Stateside, as Restaurant Riki becomes the latest Manhattan establishment to ban their customers from tipping.

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Eat not like a king, but like a cat at this cat food-themed restaurant in Japan

Each year, cat lovers in Japan celebrate annual “Cat Day” on February 22, based on the fact that the number 2 sounds somewhat similar to the sound of a cat’s meow (pronounced “nyaah“) in the Japanese language. Well, this year cat fans will have an extra special way to celebrate all things feline — by feasting like a pampered cat! For a very limited time, Nestle Purina, the makers of popular “luxury” cat food Mon Petit will be operating the “Restaurant Mon Petit”, and while the restaurant is named after cat food, it’s most definitely a place for humans to eat, and in fine style too!

Befitting an establishment operated by a famous cat food manufacturer, the Restaurant Mon Petit is offering beautifully executed dishes that are recreations of actual cat food products. And not to miss such a special opportunity, one of the reporters from our Japanese site rushed to the restaurant to find out first hand what it feels like to dine like a cat!

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Chinese restaurant has the most epic English menu of all time

One of the biggest obstacles of traveling in a country where you don’t speak the local language and English is not commonly spoken is ordering food. If you could read maps, you would probably be able to navigate around even if you don’t understand the native language, but if you can’t read the restaurant menu, ordering at meal time would be like playing a round of Russian Roulette.

Some restaurants attempt to make things easier for their patrons by including English translations on their menu, which could be a lifesaver for foreigners. But somebody ought to tell this restaurant’s owner that Google translate isn’t the foolproof method…

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We try traditional Japanese soup stock at a specialty standing bar in Tokyo

There’s plenty of standing ramen bars in Japan, but this may be the first standing dashi bar. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, dashi is a soup stock that makes up the base of many delicious Japanese dishes such as miso soup and ramen. Typically made of shaved katsuo bushi (preserved bonito fish), dashi is the lifeblood of traditional Japanese food, adding plenty of umami to even the humblest of dishes. Let’s take a closer look at Nihonbashi Dashi Bar, a shop that specializes in serving hot dashi by the cupful. Read More

Story of kindness at American restaurant warms hearts, stokes privacy concerns in Japan

Despite one of the top stories this past week being about how terrible Americans are at getting along, a picture posted on the Internet messaging board reddit has brought a little credibility back to the United States. Normally a hand-scrawled note to a server about paying the bill would barely make local gossip. However, this man’s offer of charity to two crying women who just received bad news made its way to Japan, moving some to tears and some to wonder if privacy concerns would prevent this from happening in their country.

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To reuse or not to reuse, that is the question for restaurants everywhere

The other day I was eating at a restaurant that served their French fries with a small cup. One half was filled with ketchup and the other half mayonnaise. The presentation was quite lovely but it made me wonder. It was about the size of a pudding cup and there was no way I would be able to use all of those condiments in one sitting. What would happen to the rest of it? Would it be thrown out? Surely it wouldn’t end up being served to another customer after I’d dipped my fries and poked around in it for the majority of my meal?

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