sweets

Yokohama’s adorable hedgehog dumplings are packed with spikey cuteness and creamy custard

Located about a half hour south of downtown Tokyo, the city of Yokohama has a couple of big tourist draws, like its gigantic Ferris wheel and bayside parks with panoramic views. If you’re hungry, though, you’ll want to head to Yokohama’s Chinatown, which is one of the biggest in Japan and is made up almost entirely of places to eat.

As a matter of fact, you don’t even have to grab a seat in a restaurant to fill your stomach, since the streets are lined with stalls selling all manner of munchies. Some of these you might see elsewhere in Japan, like the steamed pork buns that are also convenience store mainstays. But there’s at least one treat you can’t find anywhere but Yokohama’s Chinatown, and that’s these adorable sweet dumplings shaped like tiny hedgehogs.

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Melon topped with ice cream: two great Hokkaido tastes in one crazily delicious package

Japan sure loves its parfaits, and while they all come with tasty toppings, the most highly regarded come crowned with fruit. But what if you turned the concept on its head, and instead took a piece of premium produce, then added a cone’s worth of ice cream on top?

You’d have our newest dessert infatuation: the fresh melon soft serve.

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A little sweet with your spicy? Tokyo restaurant serves curry with strawberries and ice cream

One of the great things about curry is how versatile it is. The standard way to eat the spicy dish in Japan is with carrots, potatoes, onions, and pork, but you can also toss in chicken, shrimp, beef, or tuna. Things are wide open when it comes to vegetables, too, with some people opting for eggplant, spinach, or tomatoes.

But why limit yourself to just meats and veggies? One curry restaurant in Tokyo feels its menu should be inclusive of the entire food pyramid, and will fix you a plate of curry rice that represents the fruit and dairy groups in the forms of curry with strawberries and even ice cream.

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Cool and fun paper craft from the makers of Akafuku — one of Japan’s favorite sweets!

If you’ve lived in Japan for some time, you may have heard of the popular traditional sweet called Akafuku. It’s basically mochi rice cake topped with a rich and incredibly smooth sweet red bean paste. Well, it’s come to our attention that the makers of this long-selling confection are also offering on their website something you may not expect from a sweets manufacturer — awesome paper craft templates, and all free too! So, are you ready for some serious cutting and pasting?

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All-you-can-eat cake is all you need to convince us to eat at this Tokyo café

Sometimes, less is more. For example, earlier this year we heard the happy news that Denny’s in Japan was offering all-you-can-eat pancakes. But as enticing as that deal was, there’s an easy way to improve on an unlimited supply of pancakes, and that’s by losing that “pan” restrictor.

So when we heard a popular Japanese bakery has an all-you-can-eat cake deal, we were ecstatic, and then we were out the door to try it for ourselves.

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Future Alert: In 2015 you’ll be able to use your smartphone to brush your teeth, kind of

We really are living in the future now! In the past few years toothbrush makers and even candy companies have been trying to find ways to use technology to help us brush our teeth better. In 2012, Oral-B came out with an electronic toothbrush with a separate handheld screen to help you control your brushing pressure. Last year, Hi-Chew candy maker Morinaga announced development of a video game to help kids learn how to brush better. Now, Sunstar, the maker of GUM mouth care products, has revealed the prototype of a new toothbrush attachment that can be linked to an application on your smartphone. The goal is not only better brushing, but making the process more entertaining.

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The true meaning of December 25: The birth of Levi from Attack on Titan

With all of the secular Christmas decoration displays at shopping centers, and Japan’s focus on finding a date at this time of year, it’s all too easy to forget the real reason for the holiday on December 25. Really, the central figure in our minds shouldn’t be Santa, nor the cute girl or hot guy you just went on a Christmas Eve date with.

Christmas is a day when we should all stop for a moment to remember that the holiday is an observation of the birth of an amazing individual. Someone who, at times when our souls are tested, has always been there to show us the way, through his combination of wisdom, courage, and ability to effortlessly slice a 30-meter giant to death.

In other words, happy birthday, Attack on Titan’s Levi!

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Hot and cold and sweet! McDonald’s Japan’s Pie a la Mode is back for the winter!

McDonald’s Japan may not be able to offer you medium or large-size fries right now, but if you’re into sweets, it may be some consolation that they’ll have some special desserts on the menu for a limited time early next year. Yes, back by popular demand, two flavors of Pie a la Mode will be offered by the hamburger chain, and we’re sure there are fans out there already feeling their mouths water at the thought of a hot apple pie mixed with sweet, cold ice cream!

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Red bean paste and cream cheese — a divinely sweet combination?

If you’re interested in Japanese foods, you may be aware that red bean paste, or anko in Japanese, features widely in traditional Japanese sweets. From soft daifuku rice cakes filled with the sweet paste to anmitsu jelly served with pieces of fruit or the dorayaki cakes that Doraemon loves so much, red bean paste is indispensable in making Japanese confections. But now, it seems that giving the traditional paste a bit of a western twist by combining it with a certain ingredient has become all the rage, as seen in a recent post on Japanese trend and information compilation site Naver Matome. Apparently, an increasing number of people seem to be recommending products and recipes online that mix red bean paste with … cream cheese!

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Get into the groove with this beautiful Japanese confection that looks like a piano keyboard!

Have you ever tried yokan? It’s a delightfully smooth jelly-type Japanese dessert typically made with red bean paste and agar. It’s quite thick in consistency so it could be described as something in-between a cake and jelly, and it usually comes in a long, solid block form which you cut into smaller pieces to eat. The dessert has a history in Japan going back centuries, and now, a shop in Southern Japan has come out with a jazzy, stunningly modern take on the traditional sweet. It’s the Jazz Yokan, artfully created with the look of a piano keyboard, and just looking at it may make you want to play some music!

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Love sweets, hate Frozen? Solution: repurpose your Olaf bun into Bert from Sesame Street!

Remember when we recently had a little fun with the Disney’s Frozen pastry buns that have gone on sale all over Japan? You know, the ones oozing with cream and chocolate (mmm) and featuring the annoying face of that goofy snowman (grr) that’s absolutely everywhere right now? While we certainly enjoyed mangling Olaf’s face with a big knife whilst maniacally humming “Let it Go”, it seems that one Twitter user has an even better idea for dealing with that pent-up Frozen frustration. An idea that involves re-purposing the buns into something more aesthetically pleasing! Since we’re all about that silver lining (and since generally, we enjoy our food more when it doesn’t look like a murder scene) we had to investigate! It turns out that it’s actually pretty simple to change goofy Olaf into another character with a little more pedigree behind it – Bert from Sesame Street! Read on for the step-by step guide!

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Melt your lover’s heart with these limited edition Valentine’s Day Krispy Kreme donuts

Krispy Kreme Japan is shooting Cupid’s arrows again this year. Apparently the 2014 limited edition Valentine’s Day donuts were a hit because they are not only coming back, they’ll be better than ever. The donut powerhouse has created four new delectable, chocolatey selections and as V-Day tends to be a girl-confessing-her-love-to-boy-by-giving-chocolates kind of holiday in Japan, there are inevitably going to be a lot of guys with happy tummies this coming February 14. Luckily for all the singles and ladies out there, we don’t have to wait for our suitors to give us delicious chocolate donuts, we can start enjoying them starting January 7, 2015.

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Hate Frozen? Then you’ll love these photos of the Disney hit’s Olaf being murdered in pastry form

If Frozen struck a deep chord with you, it’s been a good year. Even now, months after the film’s home video release, it’s still got a hold on the imagination of animation and musical fans, and this week Japanese convenience store Family Mart started selling steamed buns filled with chocolate and shaped like Olaf, the Disney hit’s comic relief living snowman.

Family Mart did a fine job recreating Olaf’s look, and we’re sure moviegoers who were tickled by his antics are thrilled to have the character seemingly leap off the screen and into the palm of their hands. Plus, in a rare case of simultaneously being able to please a movie’s fans and detractors, the Olaf bun’s uncanny resemblance to its inspiration means it’s the perfect effigy for Frozen haters to unleash their resentment of the film’s success on.

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The double-cheese-mayonnaise-melon-bread is a mouthful in more ways than one

When the humbly named “World’s Second-Most Delicious Ice Cream Melon Bread” bakery in Kanazawa blessed the world with its ice cream-filled melon bread this past year, it was a massive hit. The creamy fusion was so popular that its makers opened up another shop in Shibuya in July so that even more people could fall in love with the creamy lumps of guilty goodness.

If you thought the bakery was satisfied with giving customers just one new way to enjoy melon bread, though, think again. They’ve recently put out a new, more mysterious item dubbed the double-cheese-mayonnaise-melon-bread.

What on earth could it possibly taste like? And what does its absurdly long name even mean? We went to find out for ourselves.

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Have a rice cake! Have a tangerine! Why not have both with the visually stunning mikan daifuku?

Eating sweet tangerines, or mikan as we call them here, while snuggled in a warm kotatsu table is a favorite winter pastime in Japan. (And believe us when we say it becomes a struggle to leave the comfortable warmth of the kotatsu for anything short of a grave emergency.)

Well, thanks to Japanese confection maker Akasaka Aono, you can now enjoy winter tangerines in a slightly unique form. They’ve wrapped a whole tangerine inside a soft daifuku rice cake! Now, that’s certainly an unusual presentation for a daifuku, so it’s not surprising that the Japanese public has taken notice, and since we’re always on the lookout for interesting foods, one of the reporters from our Japanese sister site Pouch promptly tried the cake to give all of us a first hand account. Let’s hear what she had to say about the unique tangerine and mochi confection!

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Hi-Chew is such a hit that the Japanese candy is getting its own factory in North Carolina

Every time I go back to the States to see my family, before hopping on the plane, I swing by the convenience store to pick up some treats for my nieces and nephew. I figure if I can’t do anything about being “Uncle Who Only Visits Once a Year,” then I’m at least going to be “Uncle Who Only Visits Once a Year, but Brings Candy!”

The stuff I get for them isn’t anything particularly fancy. A few pieces of melon bread, whatever the newest mix of matcha green tea and chocolate is, and maybe a few packs of fruity Hi-Chew candy. This year might be my last chance to score some easy points with that last one, though, since in 2015 the makers of Hi-Chew are opening a factory in the U.S. to satisfy America’s sweet tooth with Japanese candy.

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Curry and melon bread! Together…at last? Anyway, Yamazaki’s new curry melon bread is here

We’ve talked before about melon bread, one of Japan’s most tempting baked goods that doesn’t really taste anything like the fruit it takes half its name from. But as delicious as the sugar-dusted outer layer is, the inside isn’t anything more than plain old bread, which is why some bakeries add fillings like custard or even ice cream.

One bakery, though, has decided to spice things up literally by filling its melon bread with curry.

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Japan’s awesome drinkable cookies in a can mean there’s no need to pour yourself a glass of milk

For the most part, cookies in Japan are crunchy little things. One very notable exception, though, is confectioner Fujiya’s Country Ma’am line, which are soft, chewy, and also absolutely delicious.

What makes Country Ma’am cookies so good is how moist they are, and now confectioner Fujiya is taking that one step further by turning them into a drink! We got our hands on a few cans of this miraculous beverage, and while it’s still early in our relationship, we think we may be in love.

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Got a beef with Japan’s Christmas shortcakes? Then try one made out of chicken

I like Christmas. I get that some people feel it’s over-commercialized, but for me, I’m happy to see some nice decorations and have an excuse to get together with family and friends. Really, the only complaint I’ve got is the cake.

See, in Japan, you can’t celebrate Christmas without a cake. Ordinarily, adding cake to just about anything makes it better, with “a mug of beer” being the sole exception I’ve found so far. But almost every Christmas party here features the exact same “Christmas cake.” It’s basically a strawberry shortcake, which, by my criteria, is sorely lacking in the three most important ingredients of a really good cake, which are, in no particular order, chocolate frosting, chocolate sponge, and chocolate filling.

So if you’ve also got a beef with the standard Christmas cake, maybe you’d prefer one that’s made out of chicken.

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Newlywed couple’s hearts beat to Beatmania with music game-themed wedding cake

A lot of times, the simulated situations of a video game are a lot more enjoyable than they would be in real life. For example, a Street Fighter or King of Fighters session is a pretty fun way to kill an hour, but it’d be considerably less entertaining to, in reality, spend 60 minutes brawling with a string of 10 or 20 dudes, one after another.

But what about music and rhythm games? Sure, dropping a few hundred yen into Konami’s DJ simulator Beatmania is cheaper than cover charge at a club, and arcade staff members are much less likely to give you an attitude than a front door bouncer, but the digital version doesn’t give you the same chance to form a connection with potential romantic partners, does it?

Actually, sometimes it does, as seen in this newlywed couple’s Beatmania wedding cake.

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