Category Archives: FOOD

Ho ho ho! Merry fried chicken sushi appears in Japan!

Japan’s signature cuisine meets its favorite Christmastime import.

Though the word “sushi” almost immediately conjures up images of raw fish, technically you can make sushi without any uncooked or marine elements. That’s because sushi technically means vinegared rice (which is why slices of raw fish without rice are called sashimi instead).

That said, the vast majority of sushi is topped with raw fish, and thee are only a handful of non-fish sushi you’ll find in a traditional restaurant, such as sushi with cucumber or egg. However, revolving sushi chain Kappa Sushi (also known as Kappazushi) is always looking to innovate, and so its newest sushi is not only fishless, but fried too.

This week marked the arrival of the Fried Chicken Nigiri to Kappa Sushi’s menu, which puts a breaded and sliced chicken fillet, seasoned with black pepper and a squirt of mayo, onto two blocks of sushi rice.

Now, ordinarily “Why would you want to eat fried chicken?” is kind of a silly question, since the obvious answer is “Because fried chicken is awesome. Now stop talking to me since I need to use my mouth to eat fried chicken.” There is, however, a second reason for the Fried Chicken Nigiri’s existence, and that’s that fried chicken is Japan’s favorite food to eat at Christmas. As a result, Kappa Sushi’s fried chicken sushi is a seasonal menu item, though it’ll be sticking around for a little while even after the yuletide atmosphere fades, being available until January 11.

▼ And if you don’t like sushi (i.e. the rice) in any combination, you can also just but the chicken straight-up, with your choice of black pepper or togarashi spicy pepper versions.

<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="435" srcset=" 650w,,102 150w,,435 …continue reading


New Japanese KitKat has been aged in whisky barrels from Islay, Scotland

Blending the best of two worlds together for an unforgettable limited-edition KitKat.

In the land of unusual KitKats, it takes something really special to catch our eye, and Nestlé Japan has done just that with their brand new release, which has been aged in whisky barrels for 180 days.

Called Whisky Barrel Aged, the new chocolate comes to us from the high-end KitKat Chocolatory boutique, with supervision by the Willy Wonka of KitKats, renowned Japanese patissier Yasumasa Takagi.

Takagi has been creating the crème de la crème of KitKats for Nestlé since 2003, overseeing exclusive releases like Ruby and Volcanic Chocolate.

The products sold at KitKat Chocolatery boutiques are known for being more upmarket and luxurious than their supermarket cousins, and this new KitKat promises to deliver an exquisite balance of flavours that will send whisky lovers into a tizzy.

The KitKat has been made with cacao nibs aged for 180 days in barrels once used for ageing whisky, and manually rotated once a week to ensure all the cacao nibs inside come into contact with the barrel.

▼ Rotating the barrels helps to gradually and evenly shift the aroma and taste of whisky throughout the nibs.

▼ The barrels used were from Islay, an island off the west coast of Scotland that’s considered sacred ground for whisky.

The Islay barrels impart a wonderful and unique smoky peatness to the cacao, which come from Ghana and have a mellow …continue reading


Permanent Pikachu Tokyo Banana gift cake shop opening in Tokyo!

Tokyo’s most popular souvenir gets even better, and easier to find too.

If you’re a fan of sweets and Pokémon, living in Japan is sort of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, confectioners make mouthwatering Pocket Monster desserts for the franchise’s huge home country fanbase, but the sheer number of loyal enthusiasts means that those desserts can sell out pretty quickly.

Case in point: the batch of special Pikachu Tokyo Banana cakes that came out last month and were exclusive to 7-Eleven stores? They sold out almost immediately, and while we managed to grab a some, not everyone was so lucky. But if you missed out, cheer up, because now there’s a permanent Pokémon Tokyo Banana store on the way!

The store will be located in the Hanagataya South Passage inside the ticket gates of Tokyo Station. The proximity to train and Shinkansen lines will come in handy, since standard Tokyo Banana cakes were already one of Tokyo’s most popular food souvenirs, so bringing a pack of the Pikachu ones to friends in other parts of Japan is sure to make you a hero in their eyes/stomachs.

▼ The adorable baking-of video leaves us wanting to both hug and eat Pikachu.

▼ We haven’t seen this many Pikachus since the last Pikachu Outbreak in Yokohama!

The banana-shaped sponge cakes are filled with banana custard cream, while the outside is decorated with one of six different Pikachu designs, including the rare “tail” cake,

In addition to the previously …continue reading


Ginbuta: Yokohama Nihon-Odori


Billed as a “yakiton drinking spot,” Ginbuta serves a good variety of grilled pork parts and organ meats on skewers, along with grilled vegetables and spicy organ-meat stews. Service is friendly and the atmosphere is very down-to-earth, with baseball uniforms providing a decorative theme for the spacious dining room and J-Pop playing in the background. There’s a standing counter if you want to pop in for a quick snack and drink on the run.

As usual, pork skewers come in your choice of tare, slathered in a sweet but well-balanced sauce, or shio, seasoned with plain salt and accompanied by a spicy miso paste on the side. Some skewer highlights include tontoro (neck and shoulder meat), harami (belly), bacon-wrapped baby tomatoes, and cheese-stuffed green pepper, also wrapped in bacon.

A helpful illustrated menu will identify which parts of the pig you can order, and there’s an English-language menu for further assistance. Side dishes are fairly standard izakaya fare like potato salad, kimchi and yaki-onigiri. If you order red wine it comes in a big beer mug with ice cubes. Beer and shochu cocktails are other drink options. Budget around Y2000-2500 for food and drink. …continue reading


The Mister Donut Ice Bar: “When donuts become ice cream”

This unassuming bar is a big moment in ice-creamology.

As the biggest donut chain in Japan, we often report on Mister Donut adapting their wide range of donuts that are based on other franchises like Calpis or Pokémon.

However, until now rarely had we seen the opposite: an outside food producer base something on Mister Donut.

In honor of the donut shop’s upcoming 50th anniversary, major Japanese food producer Morinaga has concocted the Mister Donut Ice Bar and released it on 16 November for about 150 yen (US$1.44).

This ice cream bar is based on the long-selling Angel Cream donut which is a donut dusted with powdered sugar and filled with an extra fluffy and sweet whipped cream.

It seemed rather simple at a glance but after buying and trying one out, I was blown away by the attention to detail that this bar actually had.

First, let’s break down the structure of the Mister Donut Ice Bar. The ice cream itself looks like plain vanilla, but is actually a sweet whipped cream flavor. This is coated with a chocolate that is mixed with langue-de-chat (“cat’s tongue cookies”) and “donut flavored chips,” which I can only assume are chocolate chips with a donut flavor.

Despite the fancy description I was still expecting more or less a standard ice cream and chocolate snack. But the first bite was a total surprise, the ice cream’s taste was not at all what I was expecting and …continue reading


Two different ramen Pringles flavors are coming just in time for Christmas

Please, Santa, we’ve been good all year, so can we get one of each in our stockings?

Pringles is a brand that fully commits to creating flavors that appeal to the local palate in Japan, and we’re especially excited when the chip maker says its bringing out a ramen-flavor version. Of course, any ramen fan will tell you there’s more than one kind of ramen, and so Pringles is about to grace our stomachs with two different varieties of ramen chips.

Both of them come from a team-up with Ace Cook, makers of the popular Super Cup instant noodle line. First up is the Pringles Super Cup Chicken Stock Soy Broth Ramen, or “Torigara Shoyu Ramen,” if you’re breathlessly asking a convenience store clerk where to find it in Japanese.

The Torigara Shoyu Ramen Pringles originally debuted in 2018, but like so many Japanese snack foods they were a limited-time deal. Back by popular demand, they once again promise to deliver a rich flavor with a clean finish, like the ramen they serve at those stylish noodle joints that feel kind of like a cafe.

There’s also a brand new flavor in Pringles Super Cup Aged Miso Ramen (“Jukusei Miso Ramen”). Aged miso is one of the Super Cup instant ramen line’s most popular flavors, but it was incredibly tricky to recreate in potato chip form. The companies say they spent two years in development before getting the deep, complex flavor of miso ramen broth just right, and the Miso Ramen Pringles even get an assist from a little bit of buttermilk in the ingredient list.

Both flavors will be on sale for a limited time …continue reading


Instant ramen with 40 billion lactic acid bacteria on sale now

I demand a recount!

With so many varieties of instant noodles on the market, it can be very hard to stand out. Even its leader Cup Noodle strives to be increasingly outlandish, making it that much harder for competitors to get noticed. Meisei, however, may have found an in with their new Kimchi Ramen with 40,000,000,000 Lactic Acid Bacteria.

Released on 23 November, this spicy soup is hoping to cash in on the wild popularity of other lactic-acid-bacteria-rich Japanese products in the past. They are also taking things one step further by providing an estimated bacterium population on the label.

It’s a neat trick, because why say your food has “such-and-such grams” of a nutrient when you can say it has “BILLIONS of molecules” of it instead?

However, people in other countries might not be so familiar with the appeal of lactic acid bacteria that seems to drive Japanese consumers wild. In fact, our taste-tester P.K. Sanjun wasn’t sure either, so he consulted the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare website to learn more about it.

“Lactic acid bacteria play a role in suppressing the growth of harmful bacteria such as E. coli in the intestine and balances intestinal bacteria levels. It is said to not only improve bowel movements, but also lower cholesterol and enhance immunity against cancer. Lactic acid bacteria’s role in eliminating H. pylori infections in the stomach is also currently being studied.”
[Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare]

Sounds great, but there’s also the question of whether 40 billion bacteria is actually a lot, considering they’re microscopic. So, to clarify, Meisei wrote on the package that one bowl of their new Kimchi Ramen has the same amount of lactic acid bacteria as 40 cups of …continue reading


Curry Report – Ponipirika: Shimo-Kitazawa


Hokkaido venison burger is one of the unusual soup-curry main ingredients here, and it’s a tasty change from the usual chicken. Ponipirika also distinguish themselves from the competition with their soup options – you can choose from the umami-rich wafu-style soup (with katsuobushi and dried mushrooms), a very savory shrimp-based soup, or regular tomato soup. Even the regular version is quite rich though, almost closer to a stew than soup.

In addtion to venison, other popular main ingredients are bacon-mushroom, fried fish, and of course the ubiquitous chicken leg, while extra toppings include a nice crunchy version of zangi (Hokkaido-style fried chicken) as well as Camembert cheese and avocado.

Over-the-top exotic decor seems to be de rigueur in Shimo-Kitazawa soup-curry establishments, and this shop is no exception. Each of the individual tables and booths seems to have its own decorative themes, and there’s a collection of very odd bric-a-brac next to the cash register for your entertainment while you’re waiting to pay.

Ponipirika seems to be a bit more expensive than average – a venison bowl with a couple of extras might run Y2,000. At lunchtime (11:30am-3:30pm) you get a free salad with your soup curry, and child-size portions are available if you’re a child. …continue reading


New opening – Cielito Lindo: Takeshiba


This ambitious new Modern Mexican restaurant on the Takeshiba waterfront serves a very different menu from most Mex and Tex-Mex spots around town, specializing in grilled meats and seafood, stews, ceviches and numerous regional snacks and side dishes. The head chef, Victor Vasquez, is a former executive chef at the Mexican Embassy, and noted mixologist Naoya Otake has designed a very original and creative cocktail menu to complement the food.

The dinner menu is large enough that it deserves multiple visits to explore fully. One recent highlight was the shrimp and octopus “coctel” – plump, tender chunks of marinated seafood in a well-balanced sauce with ripe tomatoes and a bit of fruit for contrast. The sea-bream Ceviche of the Day (one of several other seafood items on the cold-starter menu), was also quite appetizing, with the tart marinade balanced by fatty avocado slices.

Hearty Queso Fundido is an excellent follow-up to the seafood. The menu describes it as a fondue made with raclette cheese (a decent substitute for traditional Mexican cheeses) and it’s loaded with ingredients like seasonal mushrooms, chorizo and shrimp. It comes with several mini-tortillas, and unlike a fondue there’s no need for dipping and scooping – you can just spoon out a portion onto your plate.

Sopes are a popular snack in central and southern Mexico, made with a thick corn-masa shell filled with various ingredients. Here they’re topped with three types of chorizo sausage meat along with bits of cheese, cream and a shredded vegetable garnish. The tacos selection covers more than fifteen varieties, including crispy fried flautas (filled with chicken, beef or potatoes) and lettuce-wrapped ligeros tacos (octopus, shrimp or tuna-avocado).

Grilled meats and fish are the other specialty here, and they’re served on platters big enough for groups …continue reading


New opening – Toshimaya: Ogawamachi


This friendly standing bar showcases twenty different sakes from Toshimaya Brewery, a western-Tokyo kura with a distinguished 400-year history. Sake is served in 30ml, 60ml and 100ml sizes, so it’s easy to put together your own tasting flight, or challenge yourself to try them all.

There’s a fairly extensive food menu, much bigger than is typical for a bar like this. Daily specials during a recent visit featured ambitious snacks like goat cheese with white fig sauce, avocado cream cheese, smoked duck, and tuna sashimi. The regular menu covers more typical sake-drinking dishes like grilled ray fin, mentaiko, dried fruit, cheeses and potato salad.

Sake is mostly priced from Y200-250 (for a small 30ml glass), and most snacks are Y300-500. They offer take-out bentos at lunchtime. …continue reading