cheap eats

We pig out at Aizuya, the Michelin Guide-featured takoyaki shop

In Japan, takoyaki (somewhat unappealingly translated as “octopus balls”) is known as “B-Class Gourmet” food. Takoyaki is the domain of sometimes shady street vendors and national chains where there are literally no chairs whatsoever on the premises. They’re meant to be consumed while still blazing hot, fresh off the special cratered griddle used to make them, chewed and swallowed at lightning speed while you suck in air to make them just cool enough that they don’t burn a hole in your esophagus on the way down.

Therefore, takoyaki is not, one would think, within the purview of the Michelin tire company’s prestigious Michelin Guide for world-renowned restaurants. But, surprisingly, the 2016 Michelin Guide contains not just one but several restaurants specializing in takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and other “B-Class Gourmet” foods famous around Osaka and the Kansai area.

One of those featured restaurants, Aizuya, is, it turns out, actually rumored to be the restaurant that flat-out invented takoyaki. And since that sounds like a good premise for an article, and gives us an excuse to stuff our faces with this delicious local street food, we went to check it out.

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We check out another all-you-can-eat yakiniku deal in Shinjuku, just 1,080 yen!

In short order, it seems we at RocketNews24 have found ourselves not only unwitting experts in fast foodology – what, with our near-constant coverage of McDonald’s new pie flavors and Lotteria’s most recent forays into madness – but we’ve also added quite a few notches into our cheap, all-you-can-eat yakiniku deals belt (which doesn’t even fit us anymore, if we’re being honest).

But, recently, our resident yakiniku fiend, Mr. Sato, reported he may just have found the cheap all-you-can-eat yakiniku restaurant to rule them all.

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Ramen Noodle Pizza and Natto Okonomiyaki Pizza now finally a reality!

We’ve seen some strange pizza toppings in the past. From Kit Kats to squid ink, Japan certainly knows how to deliver when it comes to thinking outside of the box.

Now, there are two new awesome pizzas on the menu: Ramen Noodle and Natto Okonomiyaki. And that’s not all – both items are being offered as part of a collaboration using local ingredients that hark back to the 1960s. Available from Aoki’s Pizza from September 10, this is an opportunity that’s not to be missed!

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Tokyo restaurant’s crazy huge rice omelet has 600 grams (1.3 pounds) of rice

It’s not uncommon to describe a meaty dish by listing how much beef it contains. McDonald’s has had plenty of success with the Quarter Pounder, and some American restaurants will tout their steaks as being 10 ounces or more.

But have you ever stopped to think about how much rice is on your plate? We recently sent one of our reporters to a restaurant in Tokyo to take on a rice omelet, one of Japan’s favorite comfort foods, made with a staggering 600 grams (1.3 pounds) of rice.

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Mr. Sato travels the distance to try 100-yen takoyaki

When one of our Japanese writers grew frustrated with Mr. Sato spending so much money on his lunch while at the office, they decided to show him that it’s possible to get great food at a fraction of the cost. And not just any food, but takoyaki!

Cheap takoyaki? This place must be in Osaka, right? Wrong! Mr. Sato soon found himself on an altogether different flight from Haneda airport, bound for octopus balls and adventure.

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Who needs fast food? Tokyo restaurant has awesome cutlet lunch sets for less than five bucks

Given Tokyo’s reputation as one of the most expensive cities on the planet, you might think that dining out in Japan’s capital requires either a large fistful of yen or the fortitude to put up with a growling stomach after an undersized meal that leaves you only half-full. That’s not always the case, though, and it’s not like budget dining restricts your options to Yoshinoya or 7-Eleven, either.

We recently found a restaurant right in the heart of Tokyo that has filling, delicious lunches that are so cheap, we sort of felt guilty eating there.

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In the mood for love and pizza? Domino’s will deliver your pie with romantic kabe-don wall pound

Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, which makes it a perfect opportunity for an elegant dinner out with your special someone. Of course, if you’re single, you may want to bypass a meal in a restaurant surrounded by couples making kissy faces at each other and just call Domino’s for a pizza instead.

But even if you’re not headed out, Domino’s understands that maybe you’re in the mood for both pizza and love. That’s why this Valentine’s Day the popular pizza providers are offering a deal that includes a cute heart-shaped pizza, and, if you’d like, a romantic kabe-don wall pound as part of the delivery service.

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Burger Decision 2015! Which crazy Lotteria sandwich will you vote for to make a comeback?

Hamburger chain Lotteria has to walk a difficult tightrope. On the one hand, it’s got its reputation as the mad scientist of the Japanese fast food industry to uphold, meaning it needs a sizeable roster of unusual, outlandish, or just plain massive sandwiches on offer. On the other hand, in order to ensure each item has plenty of impact and novelty factor, the chain doesn’t want them hanging around on the menu so long that customers start to get bored with them or take them for granted.

As a result, most of Lotteria’s most interesting items are only available for a limited time, sometimes as short as a single day. But just in case you missed your chance to try one, Lotteria is bringing back just one of its special sandwiches from last year, and its letting fans decide which by tallying the number of Yahoo! searches for each of the candidates.

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Kobe beef burgers coming to Japanese fast food chain Lotteria

It’s kind of ironic that the hamburger gets saddled with a stigma as the lowest rung of entrées. Sure, it’s a staple of cheap, low-quality fast food chains, but it’s also beef, the highest form of our three most commonly eaten meats, and as such deserves a certain measure of respect.

That goes double for the newest hamburger from Japanese hamburger chain Lotteria, since it’s made with the most respected beef of all: Kobe beef.

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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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Sayonara, spuds! McDonald’s Japan halts sales of medium and large orders of French fries

I’m heading back to the U.S. for a couple of days at the end of the year, and as much as I love Japan, it’ll be nice to spend some time doing things I can’t here. Aside from seeing family and friends, I’m looking forward to watching a college bowl game or two, plus soaking up some warm January sunshine, which tends to be much more plentiful in California than Kanagawa Prefecture.

And as long as I’m making a list of things you can’t do in Japan, I should probably add getting a large batch of French fries at McDonald’s, since, for the time being, the chain will only be selling small sizes of spuds in Japan.

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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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Tired of apple? McDonald’s Japan now has anko sweet red bean pies

Have you ever wondered what the equivalent of the phrase, “as American as apple pie,” would be in other countries? For other nations, what widely loved dessert produces that same mixture of traditional comfort and nostalgia?

For Japan, you could make a strong case for anko, or sweet red beans, which show up in all manner of snacks and sweets. As we’ve talked about before, anko makes everything better, and it’s about to do the same for the Golden Arches, as McDonald’s Japan is about to start selling anko pies.

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Haneda Airport’s ramen rice bowl is here to save indecisive fliers who hate airline food

For the most part, I have very few complaints about air travel. Maybe I’m just incredibly lucky, but usually when I fly, I get through the check-in and security lines fairly smoothly, and while I’d never choose to outfit my living room with seats from an airliner, I can generally put up with them until I reach my destination.

I’ve even largely made peace with the unappetizing flavor of airline food, often sidestepping the issue by picking up something else to eat before I get on the plane. Selecting my last tasty meal for the next couple hours can be tricky, though, and sometimes I’ll find myself waffling between two options, such as ramen or a rice bowl.

Thankfully, a new to-go item at Haneda Airport eliminates that dilemma, though, with a ramen-flavored rice bowl from one of Tokyo’s most popular noodle emporiums.

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From Ponyo to Italy: Four delicious ways to improve instant ramen while your water’s boiling

August 25 is Instant Ramen Day in Japan, in commemoration of the day back in 1958 when Nissin unveiled Chicken Ramen, the very first instant version of the country’s favorite noodle dish. In celebration, we were going to chow down on some instant ramen, but since we do that all the time anyway, somehow a bowl of plain ramen didn’t seem quite special enough.

So instead, we drew on our love of anime, world travel, and the simple joy of not sweating profusely to come up with four recipes to spruce up instant ramen, specially tailored to be simple enough for anyone whose cooking skills mean their home is always well-stocked with the stuff.

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Blown all your cash on anime? New restaurant in Akihabara has pasta for less than two bucks

With the highest concentration of anime and video game specialty stores on the planet, it’s pretty easy to go over-budget spending a day in Akihabara. But while some otaku might claim that Japanese animation is their lifeblood, eventually everyone needs to eat something.

So for everyone with a crying wallet and a grumbling stomach, a new restaurant has just arrived in the neighborhood, serving pasta to-go, starting at just 190 yen (US$1.88).

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Survey picks Japan’s top 12 cheap chain restaurants

In Japan, the common thinking is that if you want the absolute best-tasting food, you have to go to an independently run restaurant, generally with a long wait for tables and/or high prices on the menu. But what about those times when you’re hungry, but not in the mood to spend a large chunk of either your free time or disposable income on a meal?

That’s when you turn to one of Japan’s national chains, and if you can’t decide which, maybe this survey on the top 12 chain restaurants in Japan can help you.

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Are you an avocaddict? Burger King Japan can help you get your fix with new avocado burgers

Every now and again, the Japanese branches of McDonald’s roll out what they call the Big America burgers. Each one is named after a place in the US and has a subtle nod to the region through its ingredients, such as the chili-soaked Texas burger.

The thing is, in the U.S. we don’t call that a Texas burger, we call it a chili burger. Likewise, going into anywhere other than a Japanese McDonald’s and asking for a Broadway or Idaho burger is going to leave the staff confused and you hungry.

It’s always seemed a little strange that there’s no California burger, since that’s an established dish with a standard recipe, being avocado slices on a burger. Well, if McDonald’s won’t do it, Burger King Japan will, and even without a tip of the hat to the Golden State, their new lineup of burgers is packed with avocado.

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Pork skewers, spicy fish cakes, and beer backpacks – We look for baseball grub at Nagoya Dome

Even though she grew up in Nagasaki, when it comes to baseball our Japanese-language correspondent Aya cheers for Nagoya’s Chunichi Dragons. Sure, the Softbank Hawks, who play out of Fukuoka, would be closer to her home town, but ever since Aya’s Dragon-loving friend took her to her first baseball game at Nagoya Dome, she’s been pulling for the serpentine team.

The Dragons have given their fans plenty of memories over the years, with the sweetest being the club’s Japan Series championship in 2007. But do they also provide a tasty meal at their home stadium?

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All-you-can-eat-fried chicken coming to KFC Japan just in time for the 4th of July

Man, doesn’t that pile of Kentucky Fried Chicken look enticing? Sure, it may not be the most sophisticated meal, and there’s really no way you can twist the nutritional facts to call it particularly healthy, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a purer, simpler gastronomic joy than a bucket of fried chicken.

But you know what makes the above image all the more beautiful? The large-font Japanese text smack dab in the middle of it, the part that says tabehodai, or, in English, “all you can eat.”

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