RocketNews24 taste test: Country Ma’am Honey Castella and Black Honey Karinto cookies

We previously reported on the development of two kinds of new chocolate chip cookies based on the traditional Japanese snackscastella and karinto, released by Fujiya and their popular soft cookie line, Country Ma’am.

Well, today’s the day these cookies were released to the hungry public, so we snatched up a few bags to see how the American taste of a chocolate chip cookie adopts these two Japanese tastes. Our full, lips-on review after the break!

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We try McDonald’s new burger with sauce 20 times spicier than Tabasco

Long ago, American automobile manufacturers dominated the industry, until Japanese producers started steadily offering superior products through the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. But following years of eroding sales, U.S. companies have finally stepped up their game and returned to competitiveness, with luxury marquee Cadillac recently recording its biggest sales spurt in decades.

Likewise, fast food restaurants from the U.S. initially dominated the hamburger field in Japan, but Japanese brands such as MOS Burger and Freshness Burger have been progressively eating into their market share. Will history repeat itself with a resurgence of quality American burgers? We sent one of our reporters, on assignment in the U.S., to McDonald’s to try its latest creation, the Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder. Would it prove too much for the Japanese palate?

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Red Bull 330ml PET bottles being pulled from store shelves due to sell-by date snafu

Launched just ten days ago at convenience stores nationwide, 330ml PET bottles of Red Bull are being pulled from store shelves. The reason, apparently, is the western style month-day-year sell-by date labeling used on the popular energy drink’s packaging.
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Starbucks Refreshers to hit store shelves June 25

Starbucks Refreshers, fruit juice-based beverages lightly caffeinated with green coffee extract, went on sale last year in the United States and have finally made their way over to Japan. Packaged in 200ml cans, the drink will go on sale at Seven Eleven’s nationwide for 191 yen excluding tax (about US$2) from June 25.
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Calbee partners with Baki the Grappler creator, Unleashes tyrannosaurus steak-flavored potato chips

Keisuke Itagaki, creator of the Baki the Grappler manga series, has teamed up with Calbee to produce Grappler Baki potato chips.

For those of you unfamiliar with the series, Baki is a young wrestler who travels and fights around the world, honing his skills in the hopes of following in the footsteps of his father, Yujiro, to become the strongest fighter on the planet. In staying with the theme of strongest, Itagaki decided the Baki-themed chips should be flavored after one of the most powerful creatures to walk the planet, Tyrannosaurus rex. According to Itagaki, the packaging of the chips is also designed to reflect “forcefulness” and “intensity,” traits associated with the popular manga character.
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Can the flavor of instant noodles with cod roe match the intensity of their hot pink package?

Instant ramen gets by far the most attention, but it’s not Japan’s only quick-fix noodle dish. Peyangu-brand instant yakisoba (stir-fried noodles) are available in just about any convenience store, and are an established hit with kids and adults alike.

Similarly, although the country is rightfully known for its scrumptious sashimi, Japanese cuisine also includes several varieties of tasty fish roe, including ikura (salmon roe) as seen at sushi restaurants and popular white rice topping mentaiko (spicy cod roe).

This month Peyangu instant yakisoba with tarako (plain cod roe) went on sale. Unable to pass up this convergence of our gourmet and lazy tendencies, we picked up a couple packs right away.

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Very punny: president of Domino’s Pizza Japan offering one cheesy joke a day

There are plenty of difficulties in learning Japanese, from the thousands of kanji characters you have to memorize to the fact that the language doesn’t have a future tense. Pronunciation, though, isn’t that big of a hurdle. Japanese contains only 47 syllables to master, which may sound like a lot, but is in actuality pretty paltry compared to most other languages.

One of the biggest effects this limited pronunciation repertoire has is that Japanese is filled with homonyms. For example, kyoushi could mean either “a teacher” or “death by way of insanity.” Where there are words that sound alike, there are puns, and now where there are puns, there’s the president of Domino’s Pizza Japan.

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Internet survey ranks Japan’s four favorite rice toppings

Something every guidebook mentions about table manners in Japan is that, while almost every restaurant and home keeps a bottle of soy sauce on the table, it’s there to add to things like sashimi and grated radish, and not to be poured on white rice.

This isn’t to say that people in Japan always eat their rice plain, though. A recent Internet popularity poll pitted four of the country’s top rice toppings against each other in a battle royale.

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To live and dine in L.A.: we find marshmallow ramen in the City of Angels

Among the extensive pantheon of ramen varieties is tsukemen, in which the noodles are served on a dish with a bowl of dipping sauce on the side. My first experience with the dish was in college, when a buddy took me to a tsukemen place that had opened up near our campus in Tokyo that was famous for their sauce made with fish stock. At the time it seemed like a wildly exotic concoction, but little did I know that years later my hometown of Los Angeles would produce an even more outlandish version of the dish: marshmallow ramen.

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Are you man enough for Family Mart’s line of masculine sweets?

So here’s a tricky question: do desserts count as masculine or feminine food? On the one hand, a slice of chocolate cake is just as bold a statement of your culinary decadence as a nice fried pork cutlet. In either case, it’s at least a little wild and macho to eat something with such shaky nutritional value yet unquestionable deliciousness, similar to how I rationalize eating a pack of ham out of the fridge when I’m too lazy to go buy bread for a sandwich as being a natural result of my raging testosterone.

On the other hand, sweets are, well, sweet. Truly red-blooded males can’t even bring themselves to utter the word “sweet” unless they add “taste of revenge” after it while clenching a fist and glaring at the horizon.

Thankfully, Japanese convenience store chain Family Mart is here to help end this confusion with a line of desserts tailor-made for everybody born with a Y chromosome.

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Coffee makes you sleepy! Nutritionist explains the surprising truth about caffeine

What do you do when it’s late into the evening the day before a big project is due? If you’re a good little worker, you rest easy because everything is already taken care of, but for those of us who have perfected the art of procrastination, it’s time to pull an all-nighter. And what is your beverage of choice when you want to stay awake? For a lot of people, the answer is a strong cup of coffee.

However, what many view as a miracle mug of liquid energy can actually have the opposite effect! In Natsuko Kasai’s book Sweet things are Bad for the Brain, the certified nutritionist and meal counselor explains how drinking coffee has an unexpected side-effect that can wear you out more than wake you up.

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Onsen Ramen – Why go to the hot spring when the hot spring can come to you?

If there’s one thing Japan loves, it’s ramen, and if there’s a second thing, it’s hot springs (or onsen in Japanese).

We recently found a place in Tokyo’s Suginami Ward that combines both.

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Enjoy the delectable taste of chocolately Edible Anus

Excuses are like anuses; everyone’s got one. That’s the reasoning behind the Edible Anus line of chocolates created in England. These handcrafted chocolates represent something that transcends cultural boundaries to offer creamy sphincter shaped goodness to the whole world, even reaching Japan where netizens have been left open-mouthed at the idea of munching on a chocolatey orifice.

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We visit “the best conveyor belt sushi restaurant in Japan”

While our reporter was out visiting the Nation at War Tavern and other sights in the southern city of Kagoshima, he perused a guide map of the area and saw a listing for “Japan’s best conveyor belt sushi restaurant.”

Conveyor belt sushi restaurants, also known as sushi trains or kaiten-zushi in Japanese, are eateries where the dishes float past your seat allowing you to effortlessly serve yourself.  They are fun and cheap places to get some decent quality sushi, but are hardly considered haute cuisine in Japan. So what could Mawaru Sushi Mekkemon be doing that elevates it past the largely uniform conveyor belt sushi preparation and presentation to earn it the coveted title of “Japan’s Top Conveyor Belt Sushi”? Our reporter went to find out and brings us this report.

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We enlist at “Nation at War Tavern”, where luxury is the enemy and you can step back in time

On 15 August, 1945 Japan had announced their surrender and set the end of World War II in motion. However, in one small space tucked away in Kagoshima City the atmosphere of that time over 60 years ago has been preserved.

Upon hearing of this unique location one of our reporters headed down to see if Nation at War Tavern (Gunkoku Sakaba) could really take us back to a very different Japan. The following is their report.

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French fries with sushi? Our delicious experiment in multicultural dining

One of the greatest things in Japan are kaiten-zushi restaurants, where customers sit at a counter and grab little plates of sushi that go streaming by on a conveyer belt. With instant gratification, no language barrier, and a far cheaper price than traditional sushi restaurants, what’s not to like?

One of the most popular kaiten-zushi chains is Sushi Ro, with its low 105 yen (US$1.05) prices. The fish is quite tasty too, enough so that most customers don’t bother with the various non-sushi side dishes the chain also offers. But if you can pull yourself away from the succulent slices of tuna and amberjack for a moment, you’ll be doing yourself a favor to get an order of Sushi Ro’s French fries.

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These Chinese-style steamed buns have adorable animal faces

Japan has a healthy habit of adopting food from other cultures and making it fit for a Japanese palate. We see it with their sweet-brand curry, rice filled omelets, and corn and mayo topped pizzas. Think too of Japan’s many adorably decorated coffees and character-shaped steamed buns.

Four-rue is an authentic-style Chinese food stall that’s often found on the basement floor of Japan’s large department stores. In a move to appeal to Japan’s cute-conscious consumer base, they’ve created a series of animal-shaped steamed buns that far surpass the quality of those mass produced and sold in convenience stores. These cute little critters are handmade with loving care to capture the soft edges and utter adorableness of a stuffed toy. We sent one of our animal-loving RocketNews24 staffers to four-rue to purchase a set of these delectable creatures and give us her thoughts.

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We try Japan’s latest instant noodles: pineapple ramen (with 3-D photos!!)

With so many different ramen restaurants in Japan, you have to do something pretty special to get yours to stand out. One establishment that certainly qualifies is lengthily-named Papapapa-Pine, whose claim to fame is its ramen with chunks of pineapple and broth made with the juice of the tropical fruit. But with only one branch in Tokyo, most people living in the capital haven’t had a chance to try this unique concoction.

That all changed on June 3, though, when instant ramen based on Papapapa-Pine’s went on sale at the Daily Yamazaki (also known as Daily Store) chain of convenience stores. We dispatched our crack reporters for an immediate taste test.

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Hope you didn’t plan on eating this week: we try duck fetus eggs in the Philippines

So it’s come to this, has it? Rocketnews24, after eating pretty much everything under the sun, has reached the last bastion of disgusting culinary curios.

Of course, we’re talking about Philippine balut, or duck fetus eggs. We’ve been here before, but somehow we felt this needed revisiting.

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Our Japanese reporter’s encounter with American school lunch

Many people in Japan think that American school lunches are unhealthy. For the most part, they are right. When photos of the greasy fried foods and brown piles of slop that are served to students in the US surfaced on the internet, Japanese netizens were shocked. With all the talk of Americans being overweight and school lunches being fat-laden and unhealthy, our own Japanese reporter wondered, “Is it really as bad as it seems?” During his recent trip to the US, our reporter was allowed to try the lunch served at a school in the United States. The following is a translation of his encounter with American school lunch.

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