food & drink

Cry no more: Japan to begin nationwide sales of a tear-free onion this fall

No longer just a ball of tears, the Smile Ball is here to change the way you think about onions.

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Our English writer rates 15 teas from Japanese conbini, is fully hydrated for the rest of summer

Walk in to any Japanese convenience store, and you’re bound to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choices at your fingertips. Even taking a stroll through the drink aisle will leave you open-mouthed as you stare at the myriad interesting flavors and varieties to be tried.

Of course there’s green tea, barley tea, roasted tea and more, but how do Japan’s black and flavoured teas measure up? We decided we needed an expert’s opinion, so we turned to one of our English writers for help. With a sampling of 15 different teas, we put our parched taste-tester to work.

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We try dessert sushi (with a French twist!)【Recipe】

Sushi has become well known and loved the world over. Granted, a lot of what you’ll find in your home country is altered from “traditional” sushi to cater to local tastes (and would have ol’ Jiro shaking his fist), but what food doesn’t go through a bit of change when it crosses borders?

The only thing this dessert sushi has in common with its namesake is that it contains rice. But that doesn’t change the fact that it looks absolutely delicious and that you should get in your kitchen and go try making it right now!

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The art of cooking ramen – Two foreigners find it’s a lot harder than they first thought 【Video】

If you grew up eating instant ramen noodles or survived through university on the stuff, you would probably scoff at someone who says that making ramen is difficult. They’re probably not talking about the just-add-boiling-water stuff you can find in your supermarket for 10 cents a pack, though – in Japan, true ramen doesn’t come easy, taking many hours to make the perfect broth and lots of skill and precision to serve up a perfect, steaming bowl of noodles.

If you’ve ever been to a ramen shop in Japan, the speed and accuracy with which the chefs whips up some noodles and broth makes it look super simple. But as American YouTuber Ramen Adventures found out, it’s a lot harder than it looks! Check out the video of his experience and see what all goes in to making a good bowl of ramen.

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Village Vanguard is at it again, this time with antidote-flavored green slime curry

Last year, “exciting bookstore” Village Vanguard brought us Dragon Quest-inspired blue Slime Curry. Despite its decidedly unappealing appearance, as we found out the taste wasn’t half bad. Quite the opposite really, as our brave writer who sampled the gloppy, blue, boil-in-the-pouch curry ate it right up.

But just in case you haven’t quite had enough foul-looking food action, Village Vanguard has cooked up a new green version of its Slime Curry, this time in “Antidote Flavor“!

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Ministop and Koikeya bring six new eats to a conbini near you, but can you handle the heat?

The Japanese are known for not being able to handle spicy food. While it is true that traditional Japanese cuisine tends to have rather mild flavors and limit the use of spices, and there are still many who don’t have the tongue to tough out a bit of heat, times are a-changin’. Now, many Japanese people are more than happy to sit down to a hot plate of Indian curry, a fiery bowl of Korean tteokbokki, or enjoy a kick from a spicy snack like Karamucho (カラムーチョ).

These popular hot chili-flavored chips have been around for years, but they’re now being revamped into six new, unique meal items, from bento to fiery chicken, to be sold at the Ministop convenience store chain throughout Japan. So fire up your taste buds, foodies, and come take a look at the hot, new lineup!

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Deer overpopulation in Shiga Prefecture brings special-edition venison curry to restaurant chain

When people think of Japan, they often think of towering buildings, tons of traffic, and commuters being packed in trains like sardines into cans. But you’ll find that if you travel outside of the city center, Japan also has a plenty of nature and wildlife to be enjoyed as well.

One of the more well-known sights to be seen are herds of wild deer found in areas like Nara Park and Miyajima. Without any predators or hunters to worry about, the deer can breed freely and herd numbers can get quite high. Overpopulation can become a problem, not just for farmers and people living in the area, but for the surrounding wildlife as well. So what can be done when wild deer numbers get out of hand? Well one solution could be to do as Shiga Prefecture did, and cook up some special venison curry.

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Bacon soda’s new contender is here – Say hello to unagi cola!

Japan, thanks to its obsession with limited-edition and seasonal foods, has come to be known for its unusual drinks and snacks that come out throughout the year – matcha-flavored Kit Kats, purple sweet potato milkshakes, and sakura flavored hamburgers to name but a few.

Soda is no exception in the world of weird flavors, what with shiso and salted watermelon flavors having graced store shelves in the past. But here’s an even crazier one for all of you adventurous eaters out there: grilled eel flavor soda.

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Coffee wizard performs snack alchemy in not-so-secret lair

Last week, we gave you a recipe for the tasty caffeinated treat called coffee jelly. This week, we’d like to introduce a coffee shop that is taking that quotidian treat to the next level of taste and presentation. Behold Coffee Suzuki, where the coffee jelly forms right before your very eyes!

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Enjoy a relaxing bowl of tea with these beautiful goldfish-shaped teabags from Taiwan

Despite what many Japanese and Americans think, when we Brits envisage having a cup of tea, it’s usually more “in a giant mug with biscuits for dipping and the TV on” than “cucumber sandwiches and sipping from a china cup.”

If we had access to teabags as delicate and beautifully designed as these Goldfish-shaped teabags from Taiwanese company Charm Villa, though, I think even we Brits might be inclined to switch off the TV and make tea-time chill-out time a bit more often.

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New in time for summer: Sparkling tomato booze!

Personally, I can’t stand the taste of tomato juice. Even if I try to be healthy and buy a mixed fruit-and-vegetable drink, if there’s even a hint of tomato going on, the carton gets immediately shoved back in the fridge for my wife to try (read: finish off for me).

But if you’re one of those folks who just can’t get enough of that curious red stuff, there’s a new drink you may want to try this summer: Toma Toma Sparkling. Oh, and it has alcohol in it.

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How to make good use of flat, leftover beer from your Christmas party

Ever had the problem of undrunk beer sitting round wastefully in bottles, cans or glasses after a house party? Sigh. It’s flat, warm and disgusting. You could play a hearty round of morning-after beer roulette, the thrilling game where if you find a half-empty vessel, you challenge someone to rock-scissors-paper and the winner downs it in one (possible floating cigarette butt and all).

But here’s the beer problem solved more efficiently—waste not, want not. Here are some creative and unexpected uses for old beer that folks came up with in Japan!

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Surgical mask with your McMuffin, sir? McDonald’s Japan’s bizarre freebies are back!

Cheapskates and junk food lovers rejoice! McDonald’s Japan has recently announced that its bizarre freebies promotion, also known as the Morning Makku Present promo, is set to return!

Every Monday morning between October 7 and November 18, purchasers of a Morning Value Set will receive a free gift, with products ranging from packs of chewing gum and orange juice to surgical face-masks and band-aids.

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All-you-can-eat cookies!!! Aunt Stella’s cookie buffet opens in Ikebukuro Station

Japan is wild about dessert cafes and pastry shops. From donuts to pretzels to cakes, the nation’s sweet-tooth knows no bounds, and you’ll find baked sugary treats almost anywhere in the city. “So what makes this new store special?” you ask. Well, it’s not your typical sweet shop, but in fact an all-you-can-eat cookie buffet!

This Wednesday, a new location for the popular dessert chain Aunt Stella’s Cookies opened up in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro. And Aunt Stella has cooked up a bunch of tasty specials to celebrate the move!

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New toilet-themed restaurant opens in China: Soft-serve chocolate ice cream? You bet!

In the gradually blossoming trend of toilet-themed restaurants, now the people of Taiyuan City in Shanxi Province have one to call their very own. Having only opened in August of this year, it has been drawing capacity crowds of diners and can often be seen with a line going out the door. Much like a real restroom when in high demand…

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Tully’s Coffee checks off every last prefecture, set to open store in oft-forgotten Tottori Prefecture

American coffee chain, Tully’s Coffee, is set to open a new coffee shop in Tottori Prefecture which will see it secure a firm foothold in every last prefecture in Japan. The absence of a Starbucks in Tottori Prefecture means that Tully’s Coffee will effectively steal the lead over the big S, who has set to set up a store in Japan’s least populous prefecture.

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Kirin announces its entry into the peculiar new hot fizzy drinks market

It’s barely even autumn and yet Japan’s beverage makers are showing off their new winter warmers. Hot on the heels of Coca Cola’s Canada Dry Hot Ginger Ale, Japan’s Kirin drinks company has unveiled a new hot version of its popular carbonated drink, Kirin no Awa.

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Forget FroYo – We Make a Delicious Frozen Dessert With Two Ingredients: Fruit and a Yonanas Machine!

Did you know that you can make a quick and healthy frozen dessert just by throwing fruit into a machine? It sounds incredible but it’s true. With nothing else to add, this kitchen appliance aims to save you money, trim your waistline and please your lactose intolerant friends! We didn’t believe it at first but after testing it out, we can tell you that this thing delivers as promised. It’s called Yonanas, and we have all the details of our fruity sweet encounter with it, including video and even 3D photos, after the break.

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For Butter Lovers: Easy, Greasy Japanese!

Toast in Japan is taken seriously. If you order the “breakfast set” at a restaurant in Japan, you will probably be confronted with one of the thickest slices of toasted bread you’ve ever seen. If you manage to peer over it, you might spot a boiled egg and a small, sad amount of salad cowering there.

At the supermarket, some popular toast spreads which come in a squeezy tube are chocolate, cinnamon, melon and “french toast” flavour, but for many people, toast means butter, and the more butter, the better. For butter-lovers, the new Easy Butter Butter-Former will transform hard butter straight from the fridge into soft and cotton-like butter threads, ready and easy to be used. Sound too greasy to be true? It probably is.

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