taste test

We examine, sort thousands of grains of rice to test manga-approved cooking method 【Video】

Preparing a delicious bowl of rice is an absolutely essential part of Japanese cuisine, and fortunately for most amateur cooks today’s modern rice cookers have made that task as simple as pressing as button.

While these handy machines can whip up a tasty bowl of rice with little to no effort, we wanted to try out a time-consuming cooking method we learned from the popular food-themed manga Oishinbo. In it, one of the main characters painstakingly examines and sorts each grain of rice to prepare what is described as “a taste you won’t forget in 15 years.” But is all that hard work worth it?

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“You will need courage!”: We try a sweetfish hot dog

Salt fish hot dog! If you think a word (or two) needs dropping from that sentence, think again.

For a limited time only, a crisp, salty whole sweetfish – in a bun! – can be yours to enjoy at Kyoto Aquarium. Yep. At the aquarium. I don’t know about you, but after looking at aquatic creatures all day I’m not really in the mood for fish…

Not so our reporter Yuuichiro, who was so excited to hear about the fish dog that he headed down to the aquarium cafe and put together this photo review for us! This is his report, eyeballs and all.

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We try ramen from a can on the backstreets of Tokyo【Taste Test】

Akihabara has a well-deserved reputation as having Japan’s highest concentration of anime and video game shops, not to mentioned maid cafes. There’s one other thing it’s known for, though, and that’s weird vending machines.

And no, we’re not talking about Japan’s fabled panty vending machines, but rather automated sales of odd canned food. A few years back, Akihabara came to be known as the place to score canned bread. Next came the canned oden craze.

On a recent trip to the Tokyo neighborhood, however, we stumbled across something we’d never seen before when we spotted a vending machine that spits out hot cans of pre-cooked ramen.

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We take Doraemon home and eat him (in cream bun form)【Taste test】

To get an idea of just what a huge cultural icon Doraemon is in Japan, all you have to do is take a look at the theatrical versions of the anime robot cat’s adventures. The first Doraemon movie was released in 1980, and a new film in the franchise has hit Japanese theatres like clockwork every year since, with the lone exception of 2005. Perhaps in apology for the tiny break in the streak, Doraemon’s producers gave us two films this year. The second just premiered this month, and even though Stand by Me Doraemon is the 35th movie in the series, it still breaks new ground by being the first to be computer-animated.

CG isn’t the only new frontier the beloved character is challenging though, as he’s going one more place he’s never been before: our bellies, in the form of the Doraemon cream bun.

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We try Japan’s most exclusive beer at the U.S. Navy base in Yokosuka【Taste test】

In recent years, Japan’s gotten pretty into craft brewing. A few of the more prominent brands can be tracked down at specialty liquor stores in major cities like Tokyo, but many smaller outfits don’t have anything close to a national distribution network. For example, if you’re in the mood for a nice Doppo or Miyajima Beer, you’re looking at a trip out to Okayama or Hiroshima, respectively.

Still, most Japanese microbrews aren’t too hard to get your hands on, as long as you’re in the city, or at least the prefecture, where they’re made. Recently, though, we tried what might be the most exclusive beer in Japan, which is served in one place only, inside the U.S. naval base in the city of Yokosuka.

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McDonald’s Japan just released Tofu Nuggets, and they taste… 【Taste Test】

Just days after the taking Chicken McNuggets off its menu in the light of the China food scandal, McDonald’s Japan has unveiled a brand new, rather unusual product: Tofu Shinjo Nuggets and Ginger Sauce, a combination of bean curd, fish and vegetables shaped into bite-size pieces and deep-fried.

Turning to tofu–a food that has long been a favourite in Japan and known for its health benefits–is certainly a wise move, and McDonald’s is undoubtedly in need of something new to entice customers back with, but while we’ve no doubt all craved deep-fried chicken at some point in our lives, we’d hazard a guess that very few have ever longed for a box of tofu nuggets at the end of a night on the town.

Curious cats that we are, we headed over to our local McDonald’s to grab a few boxes of the new nuggets. Join us after the jump to find out how they taste.

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10 obscure Japanese vending machine drinks that fly under the beverage radar

With the rainy season over and done, we’ve been seeing day after day of scorching sunshine here in the Tokyo area. If you’re spending much time outdoors, whether sightseeing or just commuting to and from work or school, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids, since it’s the best way to ward off dehydration.

Thankfully, Japan is covered in vending machines, so you’re never too far away from a cold, refreshing beverage. Of course, you can only knock back so many bottles of Coca-Cola before getting bored with the flavor, so we’ve scoured the streets of Tokyo and came back with no fewer than 10 vending machine drinks that fly under the radar in Japan.

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Watermelon bagels arrive in Japan, then in our bellies【Taste test】

There’s a lot that I love about summer. The additional hours of daylight, awesome fireworks festivals, and the chance to wear a summer kimono are all big plusses in my book.

Still, even I have to admit Japan can get uncomfortably hot at this time of year. A cold beer or cup of sake are both refreshing ways of beating the heat, but there are times when chilled alcohol isn’t an option, such as when I have non-drinking related work to do and/or am already hung-over.

So in order to stay both sober and cool, I eat as much watermelon as I can every summer. And while I don’t think Japanese chain Bagel & Bagel designed their new watermelon bagel just for me, I figured I’m still in the target demographic, and decided to try it out.

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The sake from Evangelion goes great with Japan’s poisonous blowfish…from a can 【Taste test】

We’re not shattering any illusions when we point out that the hit anime Evangelion is a work of fiction, right? Japan hasn’t built a new capital in the mountains of Kanagawa Prefecture, aliens aren’t attacking the country, and as far as we know, no one’s turned into a puddle of Tang because they couldn’t find a way to deal with their loneliness.

But there is one thing you’ll see in Evangelion that’s 100 percent true to life. The brand of sake hard-drinking character Misato regularly enjoys, Dassai, actually exists, and we recently tried a bottle. Not only that, since one of the many themes Eva deals with is confronting your fears, we decided to pair it with a snack that just might kill us.

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We try the new 7-Eleven premium popcorn that everyone in Japan is going wild about

Earlier this week, netizens in Japan started going nuts about a new range of popcorn on sale at 7-Eleven. Unlike in some countries, 7-Eleven Japan takes great pride in regularly launching new, limited-edition snacks, and more often than not they’re surprisingly tasty. The response its latest product garnered, however, was ludicrously enthusiastic.

When netizens got wind of the “amazingly delicious” new caramel and (curiously) cheddar cheese flavoured popcorn on sale at their local Sebun, people apparently started bulk-buying, resulting hundreds of tweets going out bemoaning a lack of stock and pestering 7-Eleven – who then added fuel to the fire by acknowledging that the snack was indeed hard to come by – and demanding to know where they could get it.

Curious to find out what all the fuss was about, we procured a couple of bags and sat down to conduct a little taste test. I can tell you right off the bat, though, that the super-amazing mecha-delicious popcorn pretty much everyone in Japan – including our own Japanese staff – is raving about really isn’t worth all the hype.

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Japan’s king of curry restaurants enters the instant noodle market, we taste the results

Ironically, two of Japan’s go-to choices for a hot, satisfying meal came from overseas. Ramen is Chinese in origin, and curry came to Japan from India via contact with the British Navy.

Deciding between the two dishes can be a difficult task, which is where curry ramen, noodles floating in a curry broth, comes in. Until now, though, trying to have the best of both worlds meant giving up on the chance to eat the offerings of Japan’s most popular curry chain, CoCo Ichi. But with a new team-up between the beloved chain and instant noodle maker Ace Cook, not only can you dine on CoCo Ichi curry ramen and udon, but you don’t even have to leave the house to do so.

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We try Thai and Indonesian “Ethnic” Cup Noodles, one of them tastes like spicy Fruit Loops

Cup Noodles are an iconic part of the Japanese food landscape and of course they’re no stranger to the Japanese custom of adding unusual new flavors to stuff. This time around their maker Nissin has been inspired by some of their international partners and developed two flavors in the “Ethnic Series” of Cup Noodles based on Thai and Indonesian dishes.

The first one is modeled after the spicy Thai soup tom yum goong, and the other is said to resemble Indonesia’s savory noodles mie goreng. Having just been released on 14 April we went straight to the supermarket and picked them up to bring you the Asianiest taste that only a Chinese food made by a Japanese company based on South East Asian dishes can provide.

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We try Wazen, Suntory’s new beer specially designed to drink with Japanese food

Eating and drinking are two of our favorite necessary life functions, since they’re both so much more fun than sleeping and breathing. So when we heard, back in January, about a new beer from Suntory that’s specially designed to go well with Japanese food, our three months of anxious waiting until it was scheduled to go on sale started right away.

Well, spring is finally here, and we’ve just recently experienced the joys of stepping outside without an overcoat and admiring the cherry blossoms, so now it’s time for the last item on our checklist of vernal pleasures, as we sample a can of Suntory’s new Japan-centric brew, the all-malt Wazen.

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We try the adorable Krispy Kreme chick donuts convincing Japan to love Easter

Japan has wholeheartedly embraced Christmas and Halloween, but Easter is a different story. In a way, this is kind of surprising, as a holiday that gives people an excuse to dye eggs in pastel colors, eat chocolate, and even dress up like a bunny if they’re so inclined seems like it would hit the Japanese trifecta of cuteness, desserts, and cosplay.

But while Halloween and Christmas have become mainstream cultural events with decoration going up months ahead of time, Easter comes and go with such a lack of fanfare in Japan that some years we’ve completely forgotten about it until after the fact.

Thankfully, donut emporium Krispy Kreme is looking to up the celebration ante with its new chick-shaped Easter donut.

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Final Fantasy café puts spirits within you with materia cocktails, chocolate buster swords

With well over 20 years since the original Final Fantasy was released, everyone who was old enough to enjoy developer Square Enix’s hugely successful video game franchise from the very start is legally old enough to drink in Japan. So when we heard tale of a realm/café run by the company, called Artnia, where we could combine our passions for role-playing games and alcoholic beverages, we were intrigued, and when rumors reached us of chocolate buster swords, we were out the door.

Our journey took us through pitch black tunnels, subterranean cities, and secluded forests, but we persevered, and have returned to tell all of our adventures.

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We drink Japan’s spaghetti popsicle (seriously)

Don’t worry everybody, we’re fine. We didn’t suffer a stroke halfway through writing this article’s title, and the RocketNews24 offices haven’t been violently seized by half-literate chimpanzees with a penchant for prose (we make a protection payment of a bunch of bananas each week to the simian mafia to prevent just such a thing).

Spaghetti-flavored popsicles really do exist in Japan, though, and we decided to melt one down to see what would happen.

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We test the taste of the King’s Dog from Burger King

And now, due to popular demand, we have the taste test you’ve all been waiting for: the King’s Dog from Burger King. Ever since news of the hot dog offering from the fast food burger chain was released, we’d been anticipating its arrival. Boasting an extra-large sausage 2.5 times the thickness of a regular Burger King hot dog, we bought one of each to really see how the King’s Dog weighs up.

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Tokyo café says the best ice cream topping is two more ice cream cones

Today, let’s take a moment to ponder a serious question: what’s the best sundae topping? The old stand-by of a dash of sprinkles? A handful of chopped nuts for a little crunch and texture? Or do you find the idea of all that empty-calorie decadence troubling enough that it threatens to ruin the fun, so your vote goes to a few pieces of fruit?

We say the correct answer is none of the above. For our money, the best way to crown your parfait is with a whole ice cream cone. Of course, some of our more sarcastic readers may ask, “Yeah, smart guy? Well then what do you put on top of the ice cream cone?”

Another ice cream cone, obviously. Did you even have to ask?

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Mint chocolate beer sounds great, but how does it taste? We find out

Every year at Valentine’s Day, a slew of limited-edition chocolates are rolled out in Japan, where following the local custom, women give gifts to men. Unfortunately, while there are indeed plenty of guys with a sweet tooth, few of them really want candies shaped like butterflies and rosebuds.

Thankfully, there are a handful of more masculine alternatives, such as the Final Fantasy chocolates we recently introduced you to. But you know what’s even more manly than a video game about a dude killing monsters with a giant sword while his hot martial artist girlfriend cheers him on? Booze. Which is why today we’re knocking back a mint chocolate beer.

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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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