street food

Black “Ninja Takoyaki” is Japan’s latest must-try cuisine from Osaka

The black octopus balls are available at only one popular tourist location in Osaka.

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In marketing, it’s important to deliver on the various components of the expectations you create. For example, if I advertise an apartment as having a toilet and shower, but after you move in you discover it actually only has one of those, you’re going to be pretty upset, right?

Likewise, we imagine a lot of people were excited when they heard about this video spreading around the Japanese Internet, where it’s been described with the lead-in, “The sexy ice cream stand girl in Taiwan that everyone’s talking about!” After all, ice cream and sexy people are two of the most popular things on the planet.

But it turns out that breathless description is only half-true.

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Korea’s kogo is the ultimate French-fry-encrusted corn dog

Everyone loves a good corn dog. From freezer burned to deliciously golden brown in about 30 minutes in the oven, it’s the all-American snack for both kids and adults. Japan has its own version of this classic, known simply as the “American dog”, but instead of a corn-based batter it uses a wheat-based one. Many argue over the superiority of corn vs. wheat, but the fighting is about to end, because Korea has swooped in with its own version and it is mighty impressive. Introducing the Kogo!

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Kobe’s not just for beef, as this awesome street stall hot dog with ham and bacon taught us

Given that Japan has so few cultural stigmas about alcohol, it’s not surprising that once the drinking starts, it can easily go on into the wee hours of the morning. Of course, it’s only natural to start feeling hungry if it’s been several hours since dinner, and even if part of you knows that stuffing your face at 1 in the morning isn’t the healthiest decision, alcohol and willpower seem to occupy the same space in the human bloodstream, and the former usually makes room for itself by pushing the latter out.

Thus Japan the proud culinary tradition of the shime, the post-drinking meal before staggers home and falls asleep. Ramen is by far the most popular shime choice, but on a recent trip to Kobe we found something at least as good: a freshly grilled hot dog with ham and bacon.

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