restaurants

Pikachu, we eat you! – A visit to Tokyo’s Pokémon restaurant

Pikachu, we eat you! – A visit to Tokyo’s Pokémon restaurant

In the almost 20 years since the first Pokémon title was released for Nintendo’s Game Boy, the franchise has grown to include toys, anime, and even clothing. But while we’ve played, watched, and worn Pokémon, earlier this month we found out we’d be getting a chance to eat it as well, when we heard about a Pokémon restaurant opening in downtown Tokyo.

Curious to see if the most famous Pocket Monster tastes as good as he looks, we paid a visit to the Pikachu Cafe to see for ourselves.

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We visit Kyoto’s monk bar for some spiritual spirits

We visit Kyoto’s monk bar for some spiritual spirits

Many visitors to Kyoto find themselves overcome with a sense of tranquility. Even for people who aren’t Buddhists themselves, there’s just something soothing about being around so many temples and their stoic monks.

You know what else a lot of people find relaxing? A nice cold beer! So when we recently found ourselves in Japan’s former capital and looking for a calming presence, we decided to make it a double by going to a bar run by a genuine monk.

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We wait almost two hours for a rum parfait in Hokkaido, and it’s totally worth it

We wait almost two hours for a rum parfait in Hokkaido, and it’s totally worth it

Running a restaurant is tough work, as anyone who’s ever worked as a server, cook, or manager can tell you. Especially in Japan, a country where a good meal is considered one of the best things that can happen during your day, we try to give the staff the benefit of the doubt that they’re preparing our food as quickly as they can, while still maintaining the levels of flavor and presentation customers expect.

Still, we have to admit our patience was tested when we walked into a restaurant in Sapporo and ordered a single parfait. We were pretty surprised when well over an hour later, it still hadn’t come.

Then we were even more shocked when we finally got to eat our dessert and found out it was well worth the wait.

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Japanese snack giant Calbee makes its chips the star ingredient with unusual fast food venture

Japanese snack giant Calbee makes its chips the star ingredient with unusual fast food venture

Here at RocketNews24, we’re no strangers to the culinary charms of extremely meaty hamburgers. Time and again, we’ve seen chefs in Japan push the burger envelope by offering increasingly massive sandwiches.

Today, though, we’re looking at the polar opposite: a bun-based sandwich with no meat at all. While a lack of beef may run counter to our baseline burger beliefs, there’s one important detail that turns this from sacrilegious to scrumptious.

The patty has been replaced by potato chips.

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Tokyo’s cat pub, the cat cafe for grown-ups

Tokyo’s cat pub, the cat cafe for grown-ups

In Japan, since so many people who love cute animals live in apartments that don’t allow pets, you can find cafes that’ll let you relax in the company of everything from owls to bunnies. The most common and widely documented are of course cat cafes, but what do you do when you’re craving not only a little feline companionship, but also want something a bit stronger than a cup of coffee?

Simple: you head to the cat pub in Tokyo.

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Tokyo restaurant’s awesome pickled avocados contain 30 years of flavor

Tokyo restaurant’s awesome pickled avocados contain 30 years of flavor

Recently, we dined on a gigantic, gooey, and glorious cheeseburger. We were glad we did, but honestly, in one sitting we consumed enough beef to last us a week.

So for our next meal out we decided to head for the opposite end of the dining spectrum in both ambiance and ingredients, and headed to a different part of Tokyo to try their pickled avocados with a flavor that’s been over 30 years in the making.

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This Tokyo cheeseburger is so huge, there’s no room for a whole bun

This Tokyo cheeseburger is so huge, there’s no room for a whole bun

Long ago, fast food chain Wendy’s poked fun at the meager size of some restaurants’ hamburgers with a series of commercials asking “Where’s the beef?” Whoever came up with that advertising slogan would be proud of the chefs at a new restaurant in Tokyo’s Shibuya, which serves a cheeseburger so massive we had to ask, “Where’s the bun?”

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Israeli bath and beauty product maker Sabon opening beach restaurant in Kamakura

Israeli bath and beauty product maker Sabon opening beach restaurant in Kamakura

Having grown up a quick drive from southern California’s miles and miles of prime coastline, I’ll admit Japanese beaches can sometimes be a little underwhelming. Among other problems, they’re crowded with day trippers during midsummer, and infested with jellyfish as the season winds down.

One great thing about beaches in Japan, though, are the umi no ie, temporary restaurants/lounges built right on the sand and only operated during July and August. Due to their temporary nature (the buildings are completely disassembled come September), umi no ie used to be pretty bare-bones. In recent years, though, the ones at Japan’s more popular beaches have been attracting some well-known corporate sponsors and collaborative partners, such as Israeli bath and beauty product manufacturer Sabon, which is set to open its first umi no ie next week.

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Japanese soccer fans celebrate the World Cup with Samurai Blue curry

Japanese soccer fans celebrate the World Cup with Samurai Blue curry

Now that the World Cup is well and truly underway, fans in Japan have found themselves in the full-blown throes of soccer fever. While some would remedy the malady with a set of earplugs and a good lie-down, others look to the food world, with World Cup menus popping up all over the country offering all sorts of surprises. One place in Osaka has put together a creative curry and cocktail set that represents the Japanese soccer team, Samurai Blue, and the host country of Brazil. Can you see the two countries in the image above?

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Hungry? Travelers pick Japan’s 30 best restaurants

Hungry? Travelers pick Japan’s 30 best restaurants

Travel website Trip Advisor recently released its annual list of the 30 best sightseeing spots in Japan. Featuring centuries-old shrines, futuristic cityscapes, and no fewer than four whale sharks, it’s an impressive collection of much of what makes Japan such a unique and awesome country.

Honestly, if you had the time, we wouldn’t try to talk you out of an itinerary that hits all 30 places. Of course, with that much sightseeing, you’re bound to work up an appetite. Thankfully, Trip Advisor is back again with its top 30 restaurants in Japan.

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Rainy season blues, go away! Bring us summer (and beer) right away!

Rainy season blues, go away! Bring us summer (and beer) right away!

The rainy season has cometh! Spring was but a brief reprieve from the stinging cold of winter, and now Japan cowers beneath its umbrellas trying to escape the rain, knowing all too well that the humidity, however, cannot be escaped from.

It seems like the best way to chase away these rainy season blues is with a nice crisp beer, and RocketNews24 has a found a great place where you can do just that. It’s really close to our main offices in Tokyo, so sit back and plan your next happy hour, at Vector Beer!

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Powered by eels – We eat at the founder of Honda’s favorite unagi restaurant

Powered by eels – We eat at the founder of Honda’s favorite unagi restaurant

Soichiro Honda, the man who founded Honda Motor Co., was once quoted as saying that the best-selling car cannot be the best-driving car, because the compromises needed to become the former are incompatible with the lack of compromises required to be the latter.

It’s hard not to respect a person with such unflinching standards, and even want to emulate him a little. So when we found out one of the legendary engineer’s favorite restaurants was just a short train ride from our office in downtown Tokyo, we decided to check it out. Even after we found out it’s famous for its grilled eel livers.

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Is this tequila ramen with pitch-black broth and action movie tie-in macho enough for you?

Is this tequila ramen with pitch-black broth and action movie tie-in macho enough for you?

In recent years, ramen has been making a name for itself as a respectable, in some cases almost gourmet meal. Japan’s favorite noodle dish has even reached the point where some women feel it’s an acceptable choice for a dinner date (provided you follow certain rules).

That doesn’t mean ramen has been entirely gentrified, though. There’s one noodle joint in Tokyo that’s currently offering a throwback to the machismo that used to define the dish, with a bowl of ramen that has an action movie tie-in and is seasoned with tequila.

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Crazy towering parfaits of cafe Strawberry live up to the restaurant’s name

Crazy towering parfaits of cafe Strawberry live up to the restaurant’s name

With relatively little farmable land, fruit is on the pricey side in Japan. In keeping with its status as a special treat, it shows up pretty often as a desert topping, but again, prices being what they are, usually not in such large quantities.

Shortcake lovers, for example, have been known to get excited about the one day a month convenience store chain Lawson adds a single slice of strawberry to its cakes. And while we suppose that’s better than nothing, it still can’t hold a candle to one Japanese cafe that tops its parfaits with what looks like an entire strawberry patch.

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Falafel, beer, and water wheels: Shibuya and Harajuku’s tucked-away treasures 【Hidden Tokyo】

Falafel, beer, and water wheels: Shibuya and Harajuku’s tucked-away treasures 【Hidden Tokyo】

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in the bustling, beautiful megalopolis of Tokyo, then the city really is yours – you just have to know where to look. And if you want to get away from the tourist trail and get down close to the beating heart of the capital, a journey into the back streets of the 23 wards is where you’ll wind up.

Come with us as we take you into different neighbourhoods and spend an afternoon exploring some of Tokyo’s best-kept secrets. Today we’ll take you around some of Shibuya’s lesser known backstreets, where you can chow down on falafels, pick up some of the best coffee and soak up a hip, laid-back atmosphere.

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1,500 yen will get you all the plum wine you can drink, may or may not make you cuter

1,500 yen will get you all the plum wine you can drink, may or may not make you cuter

Japan is a great place to be a drinker, and not just because of the excellent public transportation and lack of social stigma about enjoying a beer in the park. The selection is also fantastic, as the country produces dozens of brands of tasty beer, sake, and shochu.

If you’re still looking for more variety, Japan also makes a plum wine called umeshu, which has a uniquely rich sweetness. Umeshu isn’t as quite as prevalent as other kinds of alcohol, though, so if you’re in need of a primer, we found a restaurant in Tokyo that’ll let you sample as many varieties of the drink as you like during a two-hour stay for just 1,500 yen (US$14.70).

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Awesome castle-like café in Shikoku lacks dragons, does have crepes and coffee

Awesome castle-like café in Shikoku lacks dragons, does have crepes and coffee

Despite its well-deserved reputation as an extremely hard-working nation, Japan is also a country that knows how to relax. Every city has a number of cafes where you can stop, sip a drink, and soak in the soothing ambiance.

Some of these establishments style themselves after a comfy living room, while others feel more like a stylish library or lounge. Or, if you happen to be in Tokushima Prefecture, there’s the café built into what appears to be a crumbling castle.

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Tokyo custom hamburger steak restaurant is all about choices, and all of them are delicious

Tokyo custom hamburger steak restaurant is all about choices, and all of them are delicious

While Japan is brimming with hamburger joints, you can also find plenty of restaurants that specialize in the meatloaf-like hamburger steak. Served on a griddle to ensure it stays sizzling hot, the lack of a bun means that with a hamburger steak the meat can take center stage.

The drawback though is that not having two slices of bread to hold everything together usually means fewer options as to what ingredients you’d like in your hamburger steak, compared to a hamburger sandwich. Unless, that is, if you stop by the restaurant Sakana no Nakasei in Tokyo, where you can customize nearly every aspect of your hamburger steak, right down to what kind of meat to use and how coarsely it’s ground.

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We visit Tokyo’s rabbit café to celebrate Easter in the cutest way possible 【Photos】

We visit Tokyo’s rabbit café to celebrate Easter in the cutest way possible 【Photos】

My wife, who’s always interested in learning more about foreign culture (no doubt in an effort to better understand her insufferably baffling husband), recently asked me how Easter is celebrated in America. “We usually hunt for Easter eggs and eat chocolate rabbits,” I told her, which quickly presented us with two problems. First, our apartment isn’t nearly large enough for a proper Easter egg hunt, and while you can get special Easter donuts in Japan, bunny-shaped candies are surprisingly nonexistent.

Stumped as to how to spend the holiday, my wife offered a suggestion. “Why don’t we go to the rabbit café?”

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With the stuffed characters of the Moomin Café, you’ll never dine alone!

With the stuffed characters of the Moomin Café, you’ll never dine alone!

Theme restaurants can be a lot of fun. Whether you’re munching on Final Fantasy desserts or knocking back a cocktail while surrounded by witches and monsters, a little break with reality can be just the secret ingredient you need for a satisfying meal.

Except, what do you do if you can’t round up a posse to go with you? Playing make-believe in a group can be fun, when everyone is egging each other on and having a good laugh, but most people feel awkward enough eating in a normal restaurant alone, let alone one that’s recreating a fictional world.

Thankfully, the Moomin Café has a solution to the solo-dining dilemma: they’ll seat stuffed versions of the beloved cartoons’ characters at your table to keep you company.

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