What ingredient do you think THIS Japanese restaurant is famous for?

Nope, not tofu. If you guessed GLUTEN, you win the prize! Wait…what? Gluten? Yes, at Fumuroya, not only is the savory, marshmallow-like goodie known as fū prepared in surprising and satisfying ways, the 9-course lunch set I ate with friends was so good, I sneaked back by myself to try it again! If this isContinue reading “What ingredient do you think THIS Japanese restaurant is famous for?”

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”

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. •

Pink Food Season Arrives In All Its WTF Splendor

It never fails – every time the big cherry things burst into bloom, I see foods that totally make me want to shout “What the pinkity pink?” I’m not talking about food that should be pink (like sakura ice cream) or is only slightly questionably pink (like strawberry lattes), I’m talking about the HELP EEK WHY IS THAT FOOD PINK specialties that appear everyContinue reading “Pink Food Season Arrives In All Its WTF Splendor”

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”

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?”

Eat ALL The Bugs

Aieee, what is this, AUSTRALIA? I mean, what if you got up in the morning and snagged your bread from the toaster before you’d had your coffee and when you went to take your first bite, there was a giant BEE LEG staring right up at you? Or, even worse, what if you were deleting your spam while you ateContinue reading “Eat ALL The Bugs”

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?”

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?”

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”

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?!”

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”

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…”

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! •

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”

I’ll Take A Pound Of The Cricket Snacks, Please

Mmm-mmm, on market day in Koshinzuka, they still sell inago tsukudani, scoops of Jiminy Cricket’s relatives all toasted up nice and crispy in a salty-sweet marinade. And what do they taste like, you may ask? Okay, I admit I chickened out of this one. But if they’re anything like shrimp tsukudani or tuna tsukudani orContinue reading “I’ll Take A Pound Of The Cricket Snacks, Please”

How To Make Poisonous Dried Snake Tea

First, you take a dried snake. A dried poisonous snake. Then you chop it into little pieces. Add some dried ginger and garlic and a few other secret ingredients. Powderize it all in your industrial snake grinder and pour it in a medicine bottle. Mix one teaspoon into a cup of hot water every morningContinue reading “How To Make Poisonous Dried Snake Tea”

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”

Tea: Not Just For Toddlers Anymore

In Japan, you’re never too young to start drinking tea! Now even babies can take a break from the hard work of learning that the hand that just hit them in the face is actually attached to the end of their own arm! Behold hōji-cha for baby bottles! This roasted decaf version of green tea startsContinue reading “Tea: Not Just For Toddlers Anymore”

Fish Bone Crackers

Look! Look! They have fish bone crackers on the menu at this izakaya! I love fish bone crackers! What? Oh, haha, don’t you mean “fish bone” crackers? Uh, no. That would be fish bone “crackers.” Eww, does that mean what I think it means? Yeah, they’re made from real fish bones. Little fishie spines, littleContinue reading “Fish Bone Crackers”

Oh Yay, It’s Deep-Fried Fish Testicle Season

Yep, that’s it: “Shirako Tempura,” front and center on the menu I was handed at the izakaya Friday night. (Or if you’re slimming, you can slurp them down raw for only ¥399, with little chopped veggies lurking on the side.) If you’re in Tokyo from Nov-Mar and are brave enough to try this delicacy, walk through theContinue reading “Oh Yay, It’s Deep-Fried Fish Testicle Season”

Previously Undiscovered Cow Parts

It’s a cold autumn night and I’ve been outside for hours and suddenly I could eat an entire cow. Oh wow, look at this! YES PLEASE. Cheery little burner is lit, pile of awesome-looking stuff begins to melt down, mingling juices bubble merrily, and finally, finally, finally, servings are ladled out! Oh, no. Lurking underContinue reading “Previously Undiscovered Cow Parts”

The Fish Bone Restaurant

You know how in America some serious steak restaurants have honkin’ big showcases of  marbled beef displayed near the front door? Well, this is the equivalent come-hither to dine at a joint where himono is the specialty of the house! Himono is basically fish jerky, but it’s different from beef jerky because it features the addedContinue reading “The Fish Bone Restaurant”

What’s Green and Crunchy and Not The Flavor You Think It Is?

Okay, I know it’s not green tea. I’m not even going to waste a guess saying it might be green tea. Wait, why? Because in Japan most cookies and cakes and other things that ought not ever to be green (except on St.  Patrick’s day) are green tea flavor. I’m not saying it’s right, butContinue reading “What’s Green and Crunchy and Not The Flavor You Think It Is?”

Extreme Pancakes

In a “foreign food” breakthrough worthy of comparison to the In ‘n Out Double Double, behold the most recent craze in Japanese pancakes: super thick flapjacks! A miracle of batter engineering, these ultra-fluffmonsters are not only perfectly browned on both sides, they’re cooked all the way through with no surprise pockets of sogginess in theContinue reading “Extreme Pancakes”

Seaweed Jello

Sadly, it didn’t have pineapple, fruit cocktail OR marshmallows in it. This square of wiggly was chock full of algae, algae, and more algae! Made from nori (the wrap on tuna tekkamaki at your favorite sushi bar), it was held together with just enough agar (the growth medium in petri dishes at your favorite laboratory)Continue reading “Seaweed Jello”

Curry Cheese Pizza Chips?! Nooooo!

Nevermind that putting cheese on top of Japanese curry sounds about as appealing as stirring a spoonful of peanut butter into my coffee, the idea of serving that flavor mashup on a pizza-flavored potato chip has me running for my stash of purloined air discomfort bags. And in case I want to make this aContinue reading “Curry Cheese Pizza Chips?! Nooooo!”

Yes, It’s Exactly What It Looks Like

If you guessed squid guts, squid guts and squid guts, you win the trifecta! But very tasty ones, apparently, since they sell a mountain of these at the Hokkaido store in Sugamo. I’ve occasionally been faced with these at the Japanese restaurants called izakaya, where you’re served a small snack with your drink order whetherContinue reading “Yes, It’s Exactly What It Looks Like”

Beer Slurpee

This summer in Tokyo the trending drink of choice is Frozen Draft Beer! The beer itself is chilled extra cold, then a head of beer slush is swirled on top from a repurposed Icee machine. On a steamy summer night, I have to admit, this fad did not disappoint! I pounded this one down atContinue reading “Beer Slurpee”

Snacks With Tentacles

If you run out of Snacks With Eyes, break out the munchies that double as creepy things to sneak up on someone with the next time you’re watching Alien. Dried squid snacks are one of the most popular junk foods in Japan – I had a hard time choosing between the many varieties for sale atContinue reading “Snacks With Tentacles”