cheap eats

Kentucky fried rice bowl – KFC’s Kentadon expands throughout east Japan

It’s amazing how much Japan loves KFC. I pass by more locations of the world’s most popular fried chicken chain on an average day in Tokyo than I ever did in Los Angeles, and it’s even the meal of choice for most Japanese diners on Christmas Eve.

Now, just as Japan has embraced KFC, KFC is embracing Japan by expanding the number of locations where you can get your hands on one of the restaurant’s rare Kentucky Fried Chicken rice bowls.

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We try Denny’s Japan’s Massaman curry: The world’s most delicious food

In Japan, you’re never very far from a plate of tasty curry. You can find the Japanese version of the dish in casual restaurants, convenience stores, and train station lunch counters across the country, and any sizeable city will have at least one good Indian restaurant.

After domestic and Indian, Japan’s favorite type of curry is the Thai style, usually in ultra spicy green or red varieties. Thailand’s got one more variant, though, called Massaman curry, which ranked by CNN as the world’s most delicious food a while back.

With an endorsement like that, we were eager to try it for ourselves. Unfortunately, a trip to Thailand for dinner is a little beyond our budget, no matter how good the food may be. So instead, we hit up our local Denny’s branch, where you can get a plate of Massaman curry right now.

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Need gyoza right now? Great dumpling restaurant is just 20 seconds from Yoyogi Station

Although the juicy pork dumplings called gyoza originated in China, they’re a favorite of both students and expats in Japan. Filling and cheap, they make a great hot meal, and are also a popular way to fortify yourself for a night of drinking, or to satisfy the alcohol-induced bout of the munchies that follows one.

While Japan is filled with gyoza joints, some of the most popular develop an almost cult following, so when we got wind of a tasty pot sticker depository called Sosan no Mise at the next station over from the RocketNews24 office, we decided to check it out.

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Subway cuts prices for two days, helps out those watching their weight and unable to cook alike

With just days left until Japan’s consumption tax jumps from five to eight percent, we’ve resigned ourselves to having to suddenly pay a little bit more for, well, just about everything. So it’s nice to know that this week brings one last hurrah for budget-based pricing, as for two days Subway is cutting us all a break by knocking the price of two of their most popular sandwiches down to almost half of what they ordinarily go for.

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Tokyo hamburger vending machine has a human touch

Japan is a wonderland of vending machines, and in many ways they’re great. They’re well-maintained, almost always take bills on the first try, and never judge you as pay for a bottle of hard liquor entirely in 10 yen coins.

Sometimes, though, doing a complete end run around human contact can make the purchasing process feel a little lonely. So when we heard about a restaurant where the vending machines had a human element, as well as delicious yet cheap hamburgers, we knew we had to check it out.

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Costco Japan’s bulgogi bake is a melting pot of deliciousness

For the most part, grocery shopping in the Tokyo area is a small-scale affair. The majority of shoppers go to the store on foot and carry their purchases home, meaning that each residential neighborhood has a number of small markets to ensure consumers don’t have to lug their bags more than a few blocks.

However, with a little over 15 years’ experience since opening its first store in Japan, mega retailer Costco has converted a number of the locals to its “bigger is better” philosophy. As you’d expect, Costco gives customers in Japan the chance to save by buying in large quantities, and also serves up hot meals in its food court, just like in other countries.

One thing that’s different about the food court at Costco in Japan, though, is the menu, which includes a Korean fusion item called the bulgogi bake.

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Is the fried chicken at Myanmar’s “AFC” finger-licking good?

Recent relaxations of regulations by the government of Myanmar have gone a long way in opening up the country to foreign tourism and investment. While we’re sure this is big news in the worlds of finance and manufacturing, we couldn’t help but wonder what this would mean for RocketNews24’s journalistic foundation: fast food. We’d heard that Japanese/Korean hamburger/craziness emporium Lotteria had entered the market, but where do the people of Myanmar get their fried poultry fix? Do they have KFC?

We suppose we could have used Google to see if the chain operates in the country (turns out it does), but we saw no reason to do so when we could get paid to take an overseas business trip instead. And so we travelled to Myanmar’s metropolis of Yangon in search of KFC.

We found two thirds of what we were looking for.

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KFC has its own potato chips in Japan, and we’ve got them in our bellies

For all of the attention Japan gets for its culinary contributions such as sushi and tempura, precious little credit is given to the way the country is always willing to push the envelope of salty snacks. Walk into any convenience store in the country, and you’ll find shelf after shelf stuffed with rice crackers, assorted nuts, and most of all, potato chips.

Recently, snack maker Calbee unleashed its newest flavor: KFC Colonel’s Crispy Potato Chips, and despite having never been to Kentucky, I knew it was my solemn duty to eat them.

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We fall in (and out) of love with McDonald’s new Diner Double Beef burger

On January 7, McDonald’s Japan started rolling out its new American Vintage menu items, with the first batch inspired by the diners of the 1950s. Our recent taste test of the fast food giant’s Classic Fries with Cheese left us less than impressed, what with a cheese sauce that didn’t taste like cheese and their ineffective “bacon flavored topping,” which McDonald’s is at least kind enough to admit isn’t the genuine article.

Still, the Golden Arches managed to lure us back to give its American Vintage menu another shot with a very persuasive offering. Two very persuasive ones, actually, in the form of the two beef patties in its Diner Double Beef burger.

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McDonald’s has maids in Taiwan. We’ve got videos here

As an American living in Japan, I often get asked, “Do you miss McDonald’s?” This always strikes me as a strange question, as living near downtown Tokyo puts me in closer proximity to more outlets of the Golden Arches than I ever had growing up in the suburbs of Los Angeles.

Plus, it’s a little hard to get homesick for McDonald’s when you’ve got access to mouth-watering okonomiyaki and sushi joints, not to mention delicious Indian and Chinese restaurants. Being surrounded by the culinary delights of Asia means it takes something pretty special to coax you into a Big Mac run.

McDonald’s cashiers in Taiwan dressing up in frilly pink maid outfits definitely qualifies.

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Mr. Sato celebrates Japan’s Good Meat Day by taking on Burger King’s all-you-can-eat Whopper deal

There may not have been any Thanksgiving festivities in Japan this past week, but the Japanese language’s ample opportunities for puns gave us two special days to celebrate. Coming on the heels of Knee-High Socks Day was the equally pun-tastic Good Meat Day on November 29.

Good Meat Day gets its name by breaking the date into its individual digits of 1-1-2-9, which can be read as ii niku, literally “good meat.” We decided the best way to commemorate our carnivorous cravings was by hitting Burger King to catch the tail-end of their all-you-can-eat burger promotion.

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We search for Japan’s best convenience store fried chicken, just in time for Christmas

Like many people who grew up in the US, I used to think of food cooked at a convenience store as the absolute last resort for sustenance. Things are different in Japan though, where the hygienic, attentively-staffed convenience stores are more akin to compact local grocers. Aside from a variety of boxed lunches, you can even get tasty hot food, such as fried chicken.

Fried chicken, it just so happens, is the traditional choice in Japan for Christmas Eve dinner, so with the holiday fast approaching we decided to stage a little taste test to see which convenience store’s fried chicken is the best.

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All-you-can-eat Whoppers at Burger King Japan. Thank you. Thank you so much.

One of my closest friends recently visited Japan with his wife, and we made plans to get together to sip fine cognac and discuss neoclassical philosophy (OK, canned Ebisu beer and Japanese sports cars). Since they were staying in a hotel with an awesome view of the city, we held our high-minded symposium in their room while admiring Yokohama’s gigantic Ferris wheel.

My friend asked how much all our convenience store-bought booze would run us at a restaurant, and I told him it would depend on whether or not we took advantage of the all-you-can-drink specials that many offer. “Free refills on beer? That’s awesome, but you could never get away with that in the States,” he responded.

It’s a crying shame that he already flew back home, because if he’d stuck around just a little longer, he’d have been able to experience another gastronomic experience unique to Japan: all-you-can-eat burgers at Burger King until December 1.

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Lotteria’s crazy burger with literally everything on it is perfect for indecisive diners

As sure as the sun rises in the east, you can count on Japanese burger chain Lotteria to do something wacky every couple of months. Seemingly resigned to the fact that it can never quite capture either the flavor or value crown in the fast food market, Lotteria has apparently settled on cornering the market on crazy, whether that means nine-patty Evangelion burgers or milkshakes inspired by horror movie The Ring.

Lotteria’s latest outburst is a burger literally topped with everything.

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Last chance to chow down on a kilo of curry rice before famed Akihabara eatery goes extinct

While most of Akihabara’s fame comes from its anime megastores and maid cafes, there’s one other landmark in the neighborhood that people regularly make pilgrimages to. Wherever you find hordes of young men dropping their paychecks on their hobbies, you can also find cheap, tasty grub, and for years, Mammoth Curry has been the place to get your fill of the spicy stuff in Tokyo’s electronics district.

Unfortunately, much like its wooly namesake, the age of Mammoth Curry is coming to an end in Akihabara, as the eatery is closing its doors for good this month.

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Chow time, bachelors! Nissin now offering microwavable curry rice in a cup

My first time apartment hunting in Japan didn’t go so well. I ended up in a bunker so cramped that the only fridge I could fit inside could hold a carton of milk, a carton of orange juice, a tube of wasabi, and honestly not a whole lot more. By necessity, I subsisted on a cornucopia of non-perishables, often microwavable rice, topped with the contents of a pouch of instant curry from the convenience store down the street. It wasn’t gourmet, but it was a hot meal I could prepare in about the time it took to take off my suit and hang it up nicely.

But as simple as that was to make, Nissin Foods now has something even easier: instant curry and rice all in the same container.

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