With the highest concentration of anime and video game specialty stores on the planet, it’s pretty easy to go over-budget spending a day in Akihabara. But while some otaku might claim that Japanese animation is their lifeblood, eventually everyone needs to eat something.
So for everyone with a crying wallet and a grumbling stomach, a new restaurant has just arrived in the neighborhood, serving pasta to-go, starting at just 190 yen (US$1.88).
With summer winding down, people across Japan are scrambling to squeeze the last bits of entertainment from the season. We may be into the second half of August, but there’s still time for a last trip to the beach, one more barbecue, or a final icy cold beer.
As a matter of fact, you can combine the last of those pleasures with another Japanese summertime tradition – ghost stories – at a bar in Tokyo that provides stiff drinks, spooky tales, and truly terrifying interior decorations.
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.
We’ve talked before about kaitenzushi, Japan’s class of restaurants where customers grab whatever sushi they want off a conveyer belt that parades the plates before them. Quick, easy, and fun, kaitenzushi has seen its popularity soar in the last couple of years.
But as kaitenzushi joints proliferate across the country, one restaurant in Mie Prefecture has decided to take the system and give it a completely new menu, by creating a revolving yakiniku, or Korean barbecue, restaurant.
Unless you grew up in Japan, you may be baffled by the emphasis that Japanese employees place on customer service. Customers in Japan are treated as royalty from every possible angle, even if they’re just out buying a few pieces of fried chicken at the local convenience store. If you’re not used to it, you may find the special treatment to be endearing, but after a while you may come to think of all the excess services as unnecessary and annoying.
It turns out that some Japanese people feel the same way about their own country’s customs regarding customer service. Have you ever felt the same about any of the following situations?
Japan takes skin care pretty seriously. Aside from all the parasols, cosmetic-grade sunscreens, and arsenal of lotions stocked at every drug store, some people look for a skin-beautifying boost in the foods they eat.
Collagen-rich dishes are particularly popular, especially when cooked in a hot pot. But what if you don’t just want food that contains collagen, but globs of it that contain food? Then this Tokyo yakitori restaurant has just the thing with its chicken skewers inside blocks of collagen.
In many cases, the Japanese language uses the word umi, literally “sea,” to mean “beach.” For example, if your friends extend the invitation, “Hey, let’s go to the umi next Saturday!” they’re expecting you to show up with a towel and sunscreen, not a compass and cutlass for fending off pirates as you sail your ship full of cargo to the Bahamas to exchange for molasses.
So when we first heard about a restaurant in Kyushu right in the middle of the umi, we thought it was built on the sand. And while we like an eatery with an ocean view as much as anyone, the reality is even cooler, as the restaurant is actually built off-shore, with half of its seating area below the surface of the water.
Back in high school, one weekend I went to eat at Denny’s with a group of classmates. One of them ordered Buffalo wings, and even though that’s exactly what the waitress brought him, he immediately sent them back, protesting, “Hey, these are chicken wings!”
I’m still baffled by his reaction. Did he really think there was some rare breed of buffalo, which not only had sprouted wings, but was being sourced for side orders at one of the cheapest restaurants in America? For everyone else at the table, the fact that we’d been attending San Dimas High for years and still hadn’t had any Bill and Ted-style time-travelling adventures had already hammered home the fact that life isn’t always filled with magic and wonder, but apparently our finicky friend’s dreams wouldn’t die so easily.
For that matter, shouldn’t everyone be able to get excited about a plate of chicken wings? The RocketNews24 team sure can, which is why we recently checked out a new Tokyo eatery, Buffalo Wings & Smile Tokyo.
One of Japan’s favorite summertime treats is a bowl of shaved ice, or kakigori, as it’s called over here. While the most popular and common flavors are things like strawberry, melon and lemon, every now and again someplace will get really creative, like the restaurant in Kyoto that’s offering shaved ice covered with whiskey.
So now that we have nightcap-style kakigori covered, how about the opposite: a bowl of shaved ice covered with the Japanese breakfast staple natto, also known as fermented soybeans?
In the four months since we got our first taste of baked Kit Kats, we’ve been enjoying as many of them as we can. Still, sometimes our sweet teeth are at odds with our lazier tendencies, and we can’t be bothered to cook the things ourselves. Plus. Lately we’ve started feeling a little guilty for neglecting all the other desserts we love.
So we were happy to find out that Nestle Japan is currently recruiting restaurants to combine baked Kit Kats with cakes, parfaits, and crepes, and the results are already hitting plates and bowls across Japan.
One of the most popular ways to cool yourself off during a muggy Japanese summer is with a bowl of shaved ice, known as kakigoori. However, not everyone has the sweet tooth or enduring connection to their inner child that’s necessary to enjoy the brightly colored, syrupy sweet frozen treat that’s usually flavored like strawberry, melon, or lemon.
Thankfully, if you’re looking for a chilled dessert that’s a little more adult, a restaurant in Kyoto has just the thing: shaved ice with whiskey.
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.
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.
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.
Here at RocketNews24, we’re no strangers to the culinary charms of extremelymeatyhamburgers. 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.
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?
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.
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?”
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.
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?