Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Hungry? Why not have some Japanese Fake Food!

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

A sight that many people see upon their first encounter with Japan is the various fake food and drink menu samples such as the one seen in the picture above that are normally displayed outside of the restaurants in showroom cases.

Japanese Food Plastic Models Showcase

The samples are a big help for not only foreigners but Japanese alike when determining where to stop by to satisfy one’s appetite or quench one’s thirst.

With scalable models just as appetizing as the real thing, the plastic food/drink samples are truly works of art.  In addition, they are a great way to judge whether the restaurant/bar is worthy of your hard earned cash as color faded samples or ones covered in dust are a good indication of the atmosphere and level of service on the inside.

As for where the fake food industry got its start, there is no need to look any further than Osaka – the food capital of Japan.  Born exactly 80 years ago in 1932,  the artificial food making industry in Japan has since exploded into what is today a $100 million industry.

If you are residing or planning to visit Japan and are looking for an experience like none other, some of the fake food manufacturers even offer fake food-making workshops on the weekends where you can learn how to make your own fake food items.

For those of you not ready to create your own menu item or not planning to visit Japan, have no fear because you can still own a piece of this interesting Japanese culture by accessing the Fake Food Japan store to view the greatest online collection of fake food merchandise available.

Here’s a sneak peak of what is available online for your viewing pleasure (left to right: iPhone case, keychain, and life-size replica).

Japanese iPhone Case Keychain and Life Size Replica

So if you are a fan of Japan and in the market for something out of the ordinary, Japanese fake food may just hold the answer for you.

Featured Recipe: Japanese Fried Tofu

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

To make fried tofu, Japanese style, you’ll need the following:

  • 2 large soft tofu cubes
  • Paper towel or clean cloth
  • Cutting board
  • Medium bowl of water or two large food cans

Here’s what you need to make the marinade:

  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 6 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • Optional: a pinch of shichimi powder

And now here are the cooking instructions:

  1. Take the paper towel or heavy cloth and place on a hard flat surface.
  2. Place the tofu on the cloth and cover with more paper or cloth.
  3. Place the cutting board on top of the tofu and then place the bowl or cans on top of the board, making sure that the weight is equally distributed.
  4. Let it sit for approximately 15 – 20 minutes.
  5. Once the water has drained from the tofu, cut them into 2cm cubes.
  6. In a shallow pan or ziplock bag, mix the marinade ingredients and place cubes tofu inside.
  7. Let it sit for approximately 30 minutes.
  8. Heat a pan over medium heat and add tofu with marinade.
  9. Cook for 5 minutes or until golden brown and serve with freshly cooked rice.
Japanese Style Fried Tofu

Japanese Style Fried Tofu

Inaugural World Tea Farms Festival

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Schedule this in your calendar and experience some Asian culture because there’s an upcoming event that’s worth checking out if you’re in the area. It’s a 2-Day Festival of a Thousand Tea Farmers and Tea Lovers in the Kyoto Prefecture featuring all you can drink (tea) from around Asia. (Click here to download the PDF flyer for directions, info, and contact information)

There will be tea from India, Indonesia, Taiwan, Korea, Japan (Wazuka, Shizuoka, Yame, Kyoto, Nara, and many more!). You can enjoy all the teas of Asia at one festive venue.

Date and Time:
Saturday March 10, 2012 and Sunday March 11, 2012 from 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
If you miss it, you can always make your own Japanese tea at home.

Green Tea Wazuka Town (click for map), Soraku District, Kyoto Prefecture
Address: 35 Hazama, Shirasu, Wazuka Town, Soraku, Kyoto, Japan
* Shuttle bus to event location will be available from JR Kamo Station (click for map)

Admission Fee:
FREE (that’s always a nice price!)

Matcha Tea

Event Itinerary

Tasting and Sale of Teas

  • You’ll get a chance to taste and buy tea from Asian tea farms from India, Indonesia, Taiwan, Korea, and all over Japan. Even though Admission is free, make sure to bring some Yen just in case.
  • There will also be a nice exhibition of photos focused on tea producing areas including an exhibit of local costume.

Tea Culture Seminars

  • Calligraphy, Zen meditation, yoga, Shogi, tea ceremony, Rakugo, art

Food Court

  • Unique tea inspired meals include: Matcha Curry, Green Tea Sweets, Sushi, Ochazuke (rice with tea), and much more.

Evening Reception Party
Saturday March 10, 2012 from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM at the Nara Royal Hotel.
Price: 6,000 円 (All invited)
World cuisine buffet, cocktails, everything made with tea. Gourmet experience with entertainment, attractions, and encounters.

How to get to Wazuka
Wazuka is surprisingly near to Kansai

Getting to Wazuka by car:

  • From Kyoto take Route 24 to Route 163 at Kamo (about 90 minutes)
  • Nara is about half way from Osaka (about 20 minutes)
  • On the way to Nara on Negoya National Highway (about 80 minutes)
  • Convenient from Kamo (about 15 minutes)
  • Route 24 from Nara to Kamo (about 30 minutes)
  • Route 163 from Ueno to Kamo (about 30 minutes)

Getting to Wazuka by train:

  • From JR Kyoto station: Take the Miyakoji Kaisoku Naraiki line from JR Kyoto to Kizu Station. Transfer to JR Yamatoji Kaisoku line to Kamo Station (approximate journey time: 45 minutes)
  • From JR Osaka station: Take the JR Yamatoji Kaisoku Line to Kamo station (approximate journey time: 65 minutes)
  • From JR Nara station: Take JR Yamatoji Kaisoku line to Kamo Station (approximate journey time: 14 minutes)

They will be operating a shuttle bus from JR Kamo station to Wazuka. But if you prefer to take a taxi, the taxi fare is about 2,000 yen.

If you’re bringing your children along, here’s a site with helpful tips when visiting Kyoto with kids.

Inaugural World Tea Farms FestivalDownload the full PDF flyer here!

Featured Recipe: Japanese Nabe

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Japanese Nabe (also known as Japanese Nabemono is kind of like an awesome soup or stew, and everything is cooked in the same pot. There are a variety of ways to prepare nabe, but I’ll give you one you can try out. You can find other recipes and tools to make nabe at home right here.

Items you’ll need:

  • 12 small chicken meatballs or 2 cubed chicken breast
  • 8 large prawns
  • 1 large carrot cut into 2cm diagonal pieces
  • Half of a shredded Chinese napa cabbage
  • 4 – 6 whole shiitake mushrooms
  • 3 leeks cut into 2cm diagonal pieces
  • 1 large piece of tofu cut into 2cm cubes
  • 200g udon noodles (pre-cooked)

Soup stock:

  • 3 cups kombu and bonito stock
  • ½ cup tsuyu (Japanese noodle dipping sauce)
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons sake

Cooking instructions:

  1. In a large hot pot, add all of the soup ingredients and allow it to boil.
  2. Add chicken and boil for 2 minutes.
  3. Add carrots and shiitake then boil for another 2 minutes.
  4. Add shrimp, Chinese napa, leeks and tofu to boil for an additional 2 minutes.
  5. Serve in small bowls with rice on the side. When main ingredients are eaten, add the udon at the end with the rest of the soup.
Chicken Nabe

Chicken Nabe

Street Food in Japan

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

If you’re looking for an exciting Japanese experience while saving some money, make sure to check out the street food in Japan. I’ll talk mostly about the Tokyo area because that’s where most people visit.

There are a lot of street food vendors around the city, but of course, most of them move around.  I’ll tell you where they usually are, but I can’t guarantee 100% they will be there. The weekends are your best bet to catch them.

japanese street food vendors

japanese street food vendors

Ramen – lots of vendors around the city. One of the more popular ones is in front of Shinjuku West Exit. This is a highly recommended ramen chain –it has a huge following and you can expect to stand in a long line during lunch time and dinner time. Visit the site here.

Takoyaki – fried octopus balls with special sauce and bonito flakes. Famous from Osaka, it`s also widely enjoyed in Tokyo.  Especially during weekends, Yoyogi Park will have a few vendors.

Yakisoba – Fried noodles with meat, nori (dried seafood flakes) and sometimes with pickled ginger is found during festivals, or you can also find vendors in Yoyogi on weekends.

Yakitori – skewered chicken with a variety of sauces. They are usually found in streets during festivals, sometimes Yoyogi park, or just order them from Izakaya (like “EN”)

Okonomiyaki – fried pancake type food (see it here). I think it kind of tastes similar to Takoyaki. There are restaurants throughout Shinjuku, like this one in Kabukicho.

Crepe – Although crepe are not Japanese, there are modern Japanese versions of crepe. They are not healthy and usually strange ingredient combinations, but they are most definitely a Tokyo thing.   You can find them everywhere, especially Harajuku Takeshita Street (across from the Harajuku station Takeshita Exit. (Harajuku and Yoyogi are walking distance, so if you would like to see Yoyogi Park from Harajuku station, just take the “Omotesando Exit” instead of Takeshita.)

Don’t be shy to practice your Japanese with the vendors or other customers too! A nice hello is always welcome. If you’re not great with Japanese, check out the Rocket Japanese review.

Street food in Japan seems to be the cleanest atmosphere when I compare it to other countries I’ve visited. Ramen and Yakisoba are my favorites.

random street food in japan

random street food in japan