Cutest Curry Rice Molds On The Planet

I thought I’d seen it all when it comes to Japanese curry rice molds, but these two cuties redefine ADORABLE. The only problem is that it comes in both cat and panda, and it’s too hard to decide (would it be greedy to get both? SHUT UP) •

One Fried Noodle Sandwich, Please

From the land that junk food shame forgot, this. A yakisoba sandwich is basically the Japanese equivalent of cold pizza for breakfast, on a bun. This is what frugal Japanese fry up for breakfast if one of their fridge leftovers happens to be noodles, so it was rare to find this homely item for saleContinue reading “One Fried Noodle Sandwich, Please”

Tokyo Cake Show: So Gorgeous, So Japanese

How can you tell a professional baking conference is in Tokyo? Because among the fantasy wedding cakes, there’s a Shinto shrine wedding, complete with marzipan bride and groom. And then there was the “marzipan cake” category. But the Japanese themes didn’t stop with the cakes – check out these king-sized decorations made of chocolate. AndContinue reading “Tokyo Cake Show: So Gorgeous, So Japanese”

Crispy Intestine Snacks

Despite the fact that this new snack is called “Addictive Intestines,” I’m afraid you won’t find me bingeing a bucket ‘o crispy innards while Netflixing my way through a Saturday night, even though they boast not just one, but two kinds of squicky bits. They do make it easy to pick through the mix forContinue reading “Crispy Intestine Snacks”

Soft Drink Flavors I Do Not Want To Try

This yogurt-banana mash-up surfs in on the enduring popularity of the local favorite soft drink, Calpis, which inexplicably established sweetened sour milk as a delightful flavor in Japan. Peach Coke is just a blatant season grab. Here, eating “seasonal” fruits and vegetables delivers wave after wave of short-term binge buying on the part of consumers,Continue reading “Soft Drink Flavors I Do Not Want To Try”

Spot The Elvis

If you’re looking for a country with absolutely zero junk food guilt, you found it. Behold the bagel sandwiches available at this shop I spotted while walking through Azabu Juban last week. Yes, in addition to the Elvis (#15: peanut butter/bacon/banana) they also offer The Rainbow Colored (#20), which features a multi-colored bagel filled withContinue reading “Spot The Elvis”

Please Tell Me That’s Not Seaweed On My Ice Cream

The sticky rice balls I can handle. I could even get into the slightly gelatinous, traditional mitarashi topping that gets its brown from, uh, soy sauce. But I draw the line at nori. Yes, those suspicious-looking little black things on top are KILL ME NOW strips of the same kind of seaweed that holds your tuna roll together. AndContinue reading “Please Tell Me That’s Not Seaweed On My Ice Cream”

The Slippery Slope, Illustrated

See, this is where tolerance will get you. Let them get away with putting ginger pickles and fish shavings on pizza, say nothing when your spaghetti comes topped with sea urchin eggs, and next thing you know, you’ll be waking up to every child’s worst nightmare: SPINACH PANCAKES. •

Japanese Food Styling Gone Wrong

Okay, as you know, I’ve long been fascinated with Japanese menu depictions of hot dogs, because they can’t seem to resist making them look a little, er, over-eager. But don’t you agree that these take hot dog styling to a whole new level? I mean, how do you even EAT these? They look  like scale models forContinue reading “Japanese Food Styling Gone Wrong”

It Must Be Fake Peach Flavor Season Again

The vending machines are suddenly stuffed with pink drinks. Of course, there hasn’t been a genuine fuzzy-skinned stone fruit within a thousand kilometers of these so-called “peach” libations, but that doesn’t stop them from making the point that even drinks flavored with highly unnatural chemicals must only appear when they’re “in season” in Japan. •

How About A Nice Cup Of Civet Poop Coffee?

The kopi luwat civet poops coffee. Or, to be more precise, it climbs to the top of coffee trees, eats the ripest beans, digests the fruity bits around the seed and, er, leaves the rest for industrious pooper-scoopers to turn into the world’s weirdest brew. Of course, once I spied a weird old-fashioned coffee bar near Shinjuku station withContinue reading “How About A Nice Cup Of Civet Poop Coffee?”

What’s Purple And Squishy And Tastes Like Thanksgiving?

This time of year, if it’s sweet and purple, it tastes like…WAT? Yes, sweet potato candy (and muffins and ice cream) is a THING, and anything that’s purple in Japan right now tastes kind of like Thanksgiving without the marshmallows. Let’s sidestep the impossible task of pondering why anyone would make desserts that taste like sweet potatoesContinue reading “What’s Purple And Squishy And Tastes Like Thanksgiving?”

The Triple-Decker Noodle Burger

Just when you thought America had cornered the market when it came to eating ALL the carbs, Japanese burger chain Loteria one-ups the red-white-‘n-blue with this tri-deck noodle monster. Yes, it’s that carbo-load favorite, noodles on a bun. Times three. Enjoy. •

Hot Springs Latte Art

It was a rainy autumn morning in the mountains of Gunma, but I didn’t care because I’d just spent a half hour soaking in punishingly hot mineral water at a Japanese inn and was sitting in front of an extra-strong coffee with the hot springs mark drawn in the foam! •

Spicy Tomato Filled Doughnuts?

Aieeeee, when I saw this on the menu at Krispy Kreme, I knew I’d have to strap on my Try Anything Once Cojones and take one for the team! So I bit into it and it was…odd. Not bad, exactly, but it definitely didn’t trigger the usual Step Away From That Bag O’Doughnuts warning sirens either. The doughnutty partContinue reading “Spicy Tomato Filled Doughnuts?”

Yes, Even The Cheese Is Black

I finally tried Burger King Japan’s most recent all-black, all-the-time burger offering, and OMG please don’t look now, but I wolfed it down in record time. It looks pretty weird (especially the BLACK CHEESE) but the taste was I-think-I’d-better-have-another-in-the-interest-of-science good. Bun, cheese and sauce are all flavored with bamboo charcoal and squid ink – two things I’d normally avoid like theContinue reading “Yes, Even The Cheese Is Black”

Chocolate, Strawberry and…Bean Powder?

Okay, buckaroos, it’s time to play Guess That Flavor with these cones of soft-serve goodness I spotted recently in Asakusa! Our first contestants are the lovely blue ice cream on the left, and the tasty-looking coffee-colored one on the right. (Wily contestants will recognize that’s a hint it definitely doesn’t taste like a cup o’ Joe!) Next up, that delightfully vanilla-ish-lookingContinue reading “Chocolate, Strawberry and…Bean Powder?”

When I Said I Wanted Cheese Pizza, I Didn’t Mean THAT Kind Of Cheese!

I thought I’d seen the pinnacle of Unclear On The Concept when wedges of Camembert started showing up on Japanese pizza, but that was before I spotted this one topped with, yes, blue cheese. Mmm, mmm, little veins of smelly melted moldy bits, paired with tomatoes and that perennial Italian favorite, broccoli. •

I’ll See Your Triple Burger And Raise You A Shrimp Puck

What is Lotteria thinking? Seriously, how could you even bite that thing? I’m not talking about the triple-decker beef-o-rama – I’m eyeing that fried shrimp tower-o-power with the shovelful of tartar sauce just waiting to squish out the other side and all over your shoes (and your socks and your pants and, basically, the shoes of anyone standing within aContinue reading “I’ll See Your Triple Burger And Raise You A Shrimp Puck”

Veggie Ice Cream?!

From the land of snacks with tentacles and fish bone crackers comes the latest healthy food disguised as a snack: carrot and tomato ice cream! Haagen-Dazs Japan hit the subways with a “secret” poster campaign this month, introducing the latest way for even the most dedicated junk food addict to get some stealth vegetables. The carrot one is mixed withContinue reading “Veggie Ice Cream?!”

Blue Caffe Latte

Coffee + Milk + BLUE CURACAO? With a LIME on top? I’m still gathering the courage to try the latest entry in this season’s unlikely flavor-combo coffee drinks of Tokyo – partly because I’m frightened of any food that’s BLUE, but also am deeply suspicious of anything I have to google to find out what flavor it is.Continue reading “Blue Caffe Latte”

Cinnamon Roll Blasphemy

In the next round of trade talks with Japan, go ahead and give away the store when it comes to cars, beef and rice, but we need to make one thing perfectly clear: Things That Look Like Cinnamon Rolls Should Not Be Filled With Red Beans And Topped With Green Tea Frosting. •

World’s Worst Popsicle

If spaghetti-flavored ice on a stick isn’t the world’s worst idea for a snack, I don’t know what is. But, in an act of supreme self-sacrifice, I tried it, so you don’t have to! Supposedly, the “Napolitan Rich” Gari-Gari contains pockets of tomato jelly, but I was unable to detect them in the short time the instantly-regretted biteContinue reading “World’s Worst Popsicle”

So, What DO Cherry Blossoms Taste Like?

Around cherry blossom season in Japan, the shelves suddenly fill with “sakura”-flavored food. But what does cherry blossom-flavored food actually taste like? I investigate. *Edited, thanks to Little Alex, whose comment below quite rightly pointed out that I had been utterly fooled into buying these unseasonal PLUM FLOWER sprinkled chips. Thinking that because they were stillContinue reading “So, What DO Cherry Blossoms Taste Like?”

Cherry Blossom Flavored Ice Cream

Naturally, it being the Pink Season, all things must be as one with the almighty sakura. Including…ice cream. And what does this marvel of food engineering taste like? Hmm, good question.  Fortunately, they did not try to reproduce the taste of traditional Japanese sakura sweets, which are sweet rice cakes jarringly wrapped in salty pickled cherry leaves. Usually I’mContinue reading “Cherry Blossom Flavored Ice Cream”

Where To Get The Best Cup Of Coffee In The Whole World

Let me ask you this: how often can you get something that’s the best in the world for less than ten bucks? Because today – score! – I had the BEST COFFEE IN THE WORLD for ¥700. It was at a little timeslip of a coffee bar in Ginza called the Café Bechet. Naturally –Continue reading “Where To Get The Best Cup Of Coffee In The Whole World”

Beer Engineering

Three to seven. That’s the ideal ratio of foamy head to actual beer, according to the experts at the Ebisu Brewery. And how do you achieve this perfect glass of brewski? Well, first, you have to be drinking Ebisu, which is engineered to deliver that perfect ratio, every time. But if you’re a bartender drawing upContinue reading “Beer Engineering”

Wait, Seriously, You Can Eat That?!

In case you were wondering if there is such a thing as too much information, take a look-see at this handy chart I spotted recently, hanging outside a “Don’t Waste Anything!” restaurant in Tokyo. Although at first glance it looks like a biology quiz, when you discover it’s a diagram of where all the meatsContinue reading “Wait, Seriously, You Can Eat That?!”

Make Your Own Goth Sushi

Okay, bento warriors, here’s your chance to show the lunchroom what you’re really made of! Step by step instructions for making skull-tastic sushi rolls from any old scraps of rice, omelet and seaweed you happen to have lying around the house! No need to painstakingly translate all that pesky Japanese – just make like aContinue reading “Make Your Own Goth Sushi”

Traditional KFC Christmas Dinner, Now With Seaweed!

Lines stretch around the block at every KFC in Tokyo on Christmas Eve, as household minions are dispatched to pick up the traditional holiday fare, but this year they have a choice between regular and seaweed flavor. Pass the biscuits and tofu, ma! • And if you’re looking for some fine escapist reading to curl upContinue reading “Traditional KFC Christmas Dinner, Now With Seaweed!”

What’s Wrong With These Desserts…?

Luscious strawberries…succulent peaches…flaky pastry…fresh whipped cream…all topped off with…PARSLEY. Yes, the fluffy little herb that rocked the 1950s sits inexplicably atop this otherwise tasty-looking fruit tart, and the strangest thing is, this wasn’t a random garnish fail. •

Unnatural Fruits Of Japan

I must have spent too much time in Japan, because the last time I passed my local Super Expensive Fruit Store (where they always ask if you’d like your purchase gift wrapped!), I actually found myself wishing I’d been invited somewhere that would require a gift of produce that’s as pricey as a good bottleContinue reading “Unnatural Fruits Of Japan”

Squicky Cow Parts Chowdown

Hey, are you ready to grill up some tasty fourth stomach of cow tonight? Or maybe you’d prefer first stomach? Let’s get one of each, to compare! Then for chasers, how about a nice plate of diaphragm? And…let’s see…it’s always so hard to decide between large intestine and small, especially when there are three kinds ofContinue reading “Squicky Cow Parts Chowdown”

Deep-Fried Bacon On A Stick

So you know how people are always going on about how super healthy Japanese food is, and that’s why nobody is Japan gets heart attacks or is fat, etc. etc. bla bla bla? Well, put this in your pipe and smoke it! Deep. Fried. Bacon. On a stick. A Japanese friend suggested meeting at a kushiage restaurant, butContinue reading “Deep-Fried Bacon On A Stick”

The King Tut of Lunchboxing

I didn’t think making a Japanese bento box could get any MORE labor intensive, but bless my tweezers and nail scissors, yesterday I saw The King Tut Bento. Feast your eyes on that pharaoh-sized nori-maki, plus a pair of hieroglyphic eye-rolls, suitable for sumo wrestler-size appetites! The hand-rolled works of art alone would require me toContinue reading “The King Tut of Lunchboxing”

It Looks Like a Burrito. It Says It’s a Burrito. But…

Okay, even though it claims in English to be a HOT & DELICIOUS BURRITO, I should have known that anything resembling a slightly overgrown packet of saltine crackers was going to deliver nothing but disappointment. But in case I had any doubts, it says right there on the package in Japanese: Bolognese & cheese. Unclear-on-the-nationalityContinue reading “It Looks Like a Burrito. It Says It’s a Burrito. But…”

Salad Pizza

Now that we’re deep into the dog days of summer, doesn’t the very idea of nomming down a hot slice heaped with stomach-bombing meats kind of make you shudder? Enter…the Salad Pizza! Sure to please the ever-dieting bikini wearers as well as the lone vegetarian throwing a wrench into the Friday night beer fest, thisContinue reading “Salad Pizza”

Slightly Unclear On The Concept: Cookies & Creme Muffins

Isn’t the whole purpose of “cookies & creme” flavored snackables to allow us to deceive ourselves about just how many Oreos we’re pounding down, disguised as a more sophisticated food item? Not in Japan! Front and center, baby, with sugar on top! •

A Whole New Kind Of Fast Food

If you’ve got a need for speed when lunchtime rolls around, what could be faster than a couple of bullet train rice balls? And just so you don’t have to be up at 5:00 a.m. with your tweezers and nail scissors, this little bento-making set comes complete with a mold for the sticky rice andContinue reading “A Whole New Kind Of Fast Food”

Please Tell Me That’s Not Banana Coffee

Oh noooo! It is! Chocolate banana coffee, to be exact, and it’s this month’s special at the Excelsior Cafe. In my humble opinion, those two flavors go together like mushrooms and whipped cream, but that’s not the worst part. The feature that really pushes this one into the category of foods you would only serveContinue reading “Please Tell Me That’s Not Banana Coffee”

The Godzilla Of Pancakes

If you are what you eat, right now I’m a righteous tower of these tall boys. This “short stack” came topped with butter and kuromitsu (Okinawan black sugar syrup) and yes ma’am, I ate every single fluffmonster bite. It was so good, I had to return to Hoshino Coffee for an encore. The next time, IContinue reading “The Godzilla Of Pancakes”

Lunchboxing Power Tools

Are the kids at school making fun of your progeny because the Pikachu rice ball you tried to make looked more like Godzilla? Did the teacher send home a note about not making lunch characters that scare the other children, when all you were tying to do was make that hot dog look like aContinue reading “Lunchboxing Power Tools”

The Head Is The Best Part

The head is the best part. Or so I was told by the ayu vendor at the  Yasukuni shrine. My new pet fish-on-a-stick looked too big to be eaten whole, but apparently that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do. Head, tail, innards, bones, everything. My main grill man helpfully informed me that they’re skewered upside-down so asContinue reading “The Head Is The Best Part”