Tokyo heat melting food samples, you could be next

If it isn’t already clear from the sudden influx of summer heat-themed RocketNews24 articles over the past few days, summer is officially upon Tokyo and this year she’s out for blood.

At time of writing, the temperature is expected to reach a high of 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit), the streets empty as the oppressive heat drives everyone indoors like so many ants scrambling from a magnifying glass beam.

Don’t believe it? No worries, we’ve brought photographic evidence:

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Hot steamed buns are a great way to cool down in summer, says our slightly crazy Japanese reporter

I used to have a co-worker who, on the hottest of summer days, would drink a pint of hot water through a straw and claim it helped cool her down. Naturally, everyone thought she was insane or belonged to some weird religion, or both, and would try to avoid working a shift alone with her.

But it looks like her weird sect of Scientology or whatever it was may have been onto something, as our Japanese reporter swears by eating microwaved steam buns to cool off in the summer.

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People of Thailand prepare their bellies for the nation-wide meat eating contest

In Thailand there is a chain of conveyor belt sushi and shabu shabu restaurants called Shabushi, operated by the company Oishi Group. Shabu-shabu is a Japanese dish similar to fondue, where vegetables and wafer-thin slices of meat are cooked in a pot of boiling broth at the table. One week ago, on July 4 at the Central World trade facility in Bangkok, Oishi Group held the opening ceremonies for their second annual Shabu Lympics, a shabu-shabu eating contest taking place at select branches of Shabushi nation-wide.

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Three nations come together in friendship to share their dumpling wrapping skills

The dumplings known in Japan as gyoza are typically filled with diced cabbage and pork. Most of the time they’re also packed with enough garlic to make them as dangerous a temptation for office workers on their lunch break as a frosty mid-day beer.

Even though China, Japan, and Korea all have distinct food cultures, being so close to one another on the map means that some things are bound to cross borders. Case in point: all three countries love gyoza, and rightly so!

But while they’re united in their love for the food is universal, it turns out each nation has its own unique way of wrapping them, as our Japanese correspondent living in Germany recently found out.

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How many RocketNews24 reporters does it take to eat one family’s worth of udon?

Although it’s often overshadowed by ramen and soba, udon is the final member of the triumvirate of Japanese noodles. With a spongy, absorbent texture, it allows diners to really enjoy the flavor of the broth or dipping sauce it’s served with. This airier structure also means you might need a larger serving to get as full as you would from a meal of ramen or soba, however.

With this in mind, and very little in his stomach, our reporter Mr. Sato headed to a branch of popular udon chain Marugame Seimen, where he fearlessly ordered the largest bowl of udon on the menu, the Family Udon.

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You call that sushi? Ukraine’s take on the Japanese classic

Whenever foods specific to a certain culture make appearances in foreign restaurants, something almost always gets altered along the way. For example, I’ve been living in Japan for years, and yet I still shake my head whenever I see an “American-style” pizza topped with eggplant, potato and mayonnaise. It’d be one thing if everyday consumers realized that the “Western” food they eat is actually unique to Japan, but as far as they are concerned, all of us Americans put taters and mayo on our pizzas!

But of course, Japan is in no way the only country to confuse traditional ingredients for those suited to their local tastes. Recently, one of our RocketNews24 correspondents, Natasha from Ukraine, wrote up a fine report on the sad state of sushi in her country. Here’s the gist of what she had to say.

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Business is booming for yakiniku restaurants, but are customers chemically dependent on meat?

Yakiniku (Korean barbecue) restaurants have been popular in Japan for a long time now. People around here can’t seem to get enough of managing their own grill and eating copious amounts of pure meat. However, in recent years Japan seems to really be getting into red meat what with romantic meat themed video games and classily stacked Quarter Pounders for a king’s ransom.

Particularly around the summer season Japanese people appear to be craving red meat extra hard. News Post Seven reports that of all types of restaurants in Japan, the yakiniku sector has grown a hearty 14 percent compared to the previous year. It was the only type to grow over 10 percent – an impressive feat in this sluggish economy. As a result we are seeing other restaurants and bars adopting charcoal grills to tap into this success.

To answer the million dollar question of why Korean barbecue is going so strong, News Post Seven‘s Tatsuya Matsura came up with an interesting theory. Let’s see if it holds water and maybe a little BBQ sauce too.

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Mysterious Twitterbot posts nothing but images of burnt food

A Japanese Twitter bot has surfaced on the microblogging service in recent months which has confused many a follower. Its sole purpose seems to be posting photos depicting food burnt to various degrees.

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Watch how to make one of Japan’s elite restaurant’s desserts

Located in the posh Roppongi area of Tokyo is RyuGin which was given a three star rating by Michelin earlier this year, and was ranked the 22nd best restaurant in the world by S.Pelligrino and Acqua Panna. Part of the reason for these accolades is the artistic vision of head chef Seiji Yamamoto who enjoys pushing the boundaries of Japanese cuisine.

One example is the dessert seen above, the Ichigo Ame 2011 -196℃ to 99℃. It consists of a strawberry sherbert forged at ultra-low temperatures encased in a strawberry candy coating and served with a hot strawberry sauce. Sounds fantastic doesn’t it?

Of course, going to one of the top restaurants in the world doesn’t come cheap, making the Ichigo Ame out of most of our price range. Luckily, RyuGin had uploaded a reference video to YouTube, so that we can all learn how to make it. Join us as we take you through the process to make this unbelievably sophisticated dessert.

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Competitive eater Kobayashi eats a whole lot of wieners, blows competition away

Don’t let Takeru Kobayashi’s slight build fool you. That guy vacuums up food faster than a Hoover. In his most recent feat of voracity, the Japanese competitive eater gobbled down a whopping 67 hot dogs in 10 minutes. The next closest contender only managed 34!

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Hands-free burger holder frees hands to put even more food in your mouth

A few days ago, we designed and field tested a shoulder-mounted, hands-free burger holding device that allowed our gluttonous Mr. Sato to eat one of his beloved burgers without missing a Tweet. Then he wondered if his free hands might allow him to indulge his other passion… Get your mind out of the gutter! We mean noodles!

Read on for the results of our experiment and instructions on how to try it yourself.

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Feed your heart, mind, and stomach at Roppongi Hills’ LOVE Exhibition and Hatsune Miku Café

Aside from being an upscale shopping center, Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills complex is also home to the Mori Art Museum and a 54th-floor observation deck. We recently paid the building a visit to check out two concurrently running events, the LOVE Exhibition and Hatsune Miku Café.

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Crack open the truth about fortune cookies

In Chinese restaurants from America to Brazil, Britain, Australia, and much of the western world in between, there’s one thing we’ve all come to expect at the end of our meals. Aside from heartburn and maybe an upset tummy, we expect a tray full of fortune cookies to be delivered with the check. You know, those crisp, folded cookies with a paper slip inside telling you your lucky lotto numbers and the importance of friendship in your life. But did you realize that you’ll never encounter these kinds of cookies at restaurants within China itself? Investigations show that Chinese fortune cookies have absolutely nothing to do with China! The truth, it would seem, lies a little bit further east.

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Survey shows that guys like girls who eat a lot, so long as it’s salad

I should probably preface this by saying I have never held back on ordering the food I wanted on a date. My thinking is: if you can’t appreciate the hedonistic power of a delicious meal, I don’t really want to dine with you again, or at all, really.

However, I have heard girlfriends worry about what is and isn’t okay to order on a date, so I know some women do feel judged by what and how they eat. Turns out this concern isn’t just in their minds. A recent survey suggests that guys like to see a girl eat, but it depends what is on her plate.

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We learn the terrifying secret of Silent Hill ramen

Since 1999, Konami’s Silent Hill horror series has been spooking gamers with its mysterious, reality-bending setting and plotlines, not to mention its collection of grotesque, otherworldly creatures like the appropriately-named Pyramid Head, a giant with a large, triangular head who stalks the game’s protagonist while carrying an enormous blade.

Konami has recently formed a partnership with a number of ramen restaurants across Japan to serve Silent Hill ramen. But just what exactly happens when you use a horror story that’s dripping with gore as the inspiration for food? We headed to Hajime, a Tokyo restaurant that offers the terrifying noodles, to find out.

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We design and field-test a hands-free burger holder

Here at RocketNews24, we like to keep abreast of the pioneering developments in the separate but equally important fields of technology and hamburgers. Having already marvelled at the fries holder from McDonald’s and recently hearing that Burger King had developed a hands-free Whopper Holder, we were immediately filled with a level of avarice that usually makes people buy a pair of overalls and move to the Yukon to pan for gold.

Unfortunately, Burger King’s shoulder and neck-mounted hamburger holder is only available as a giveaway for customers lucky enough to win one, and since the promotion isn’t being held in Japan, we were left with only one option: design and built one of our own.

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We try 400-year-old Ghost Child Care Candy – so good it’ll raise the dead

In the Higashiyama area of Kyoto City stands a candy shop which boasts a unique regular customer, the specter of a woman who comes for their candy. The legend began in 1599 and has been handed down from generation to generation to the present day.

The shop, now called Minatoya Ghost Child Care Candy Main Office, only sells its legendary Ghost Child Care Candy. RocketNews24’s Kuzo decided to head down to Kyoto to investigate the bittersweet story behind this candy shop’s connection to the other side.

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Japan-exclusive Oreo Sticks – Can they compete with the real thing?

There are few things with the power to excite and abhor travellers more than foreign versions of sweets and cookies that exist back home. Even though we pass them by dozens of times a day in supermarkets and convenience stores in our own country, spot M&M’s, Doritos or even a Kit-Kat in a land where everything else is alien, and immediately we feel like home is not so far away; it’s like running into a friend from your home town during your first week of college where everything else is scary and unknown. What happens, though, if that same friend has a weird new haircut and is affecting some peculiar accent just because they’re in an unfamiliar town?

Oreo Sticks, a snack exclusive to Japan, will likely have the very same unnerving effect on snackophiles. With packaging familiar to millions, yet containing a snack entirely different to those we’re used to, Oreo Sticks have the potential to shatter cookie fans’ dreams, but with a little courage they could also be something quite wonderful.

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The restaurant that powered the team behind one of Nintendo’s biggest hits

Kyoto has a long-standing reputation as a center of traditional culture, justified by its numerous significant temples and shrines, not to mention the artwork they house and their surrounding gardens. However, the city is also home to a site of great importance to modern pop culture: the headquarters of video game maker Nintendo, responsible for many of the titles that shaped modern gaming.

There’s a saying in Japan, though, that you can’t win a battle on an empty stomach, and that goes for designing great games, too. We recently visited the restaurant that powered the development team of one of Nintendo’s biggest hits ever.

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Lotte releases gum for women over 50 that tastes like women over 50, it’s surprisingly good

Gum can be a great way to freshen your breath or relieve stress, but by the time you’re old enough to have huge amounts of stress and coffee-breath, chewing gum can look kind of immature.

But food and candy maker Lotte is looking to shatter that stereotype by producing a gum target directly at women over the age of 50. Oddly enough their strategy seemed to be making it taste like a woman in her fifties.

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