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Culture Fast Food

McDonald’s New Pokémon Happy Meals Are Being Bought En Masse

Photo courtesy of Brian Yamamoto.

McDonald’s has teamed up with Pokémon to celebrate the gaming franchise’s 25th anniversary. Their way of doing that? Happy Meals branded with the titular game mascot, Pikachu, that also include toys and Pokémon trading cards.

While this was expected to be an easy way to get kids to ask for more McDonald’s, some of the biggest orders for these meal sets have come from adults seeking Pokémon treasure.

These people could honestly care less about the food, as they’re trying to score the packs of Pokémon cards in hope of scoring a rare one.

Over the past year, the value of rare types of Pokémon cards has vaulted through the roof. There are reports of celebrities like Logan Paul or Logic selling or buying the most coveted of these cards for over $100,000.

Rare cards include “holo” or “foil” varieties that have a kaleidoscopic sheen to them. They’ve been included at random in packs of Pokémon cards for years, but the recent spike in value they’ve seen has led to a craze where retailers struggle to keep the regular packs on shelves.

The Pokémon cards from McDonald’s include a brand new set of foil cards, some of which have already resold for close to $100 each. As such, folks are hoping to score some of these rare cards from the McDonald’s Happy Meals, and will clean out inventories to do so.

The cards themselves have a value of about $10 a pack on resale sites as of press time, making them more than double the price of the meal you would purchase to obtain one. Of course, most people are buying the meals in bulk to get their hands on these cards.

McDonald’s doesn’t have a unified policy on whether franchisees can sell just the toys or not, meaning that in some cases, folks can get away with buying out the whole stock of toys and cards and posting them on eBay. Some boxes of hundreds of these cards have popped up for sale there for close to $10,000.

Other locations have had limited amounts available or restrict to having to buy the meals. According to Kotaku, some YouTubers have gotten around this buy purchasing from multiple locations, hoping to generate enough boxes to make videos, and hopefully money, off of.

As for the meals themselves, it seems like people are trying to do their best to not have the burgers and fries go to waste. Some YouTubers will do mukbangs of themselves eating the entire order, while others gave them away to those in need.

There have been reports, although unconfirmed, of people throwing away the meals, but no physical or video evidence has emerged yet to support that case.

The Pokémon Happy Meals were just released on February 9th, meaning there should still be time to get your hands on one if you want. However, since they are a limited-time offering, chances are folks on the internet could buy the entire stock up fast.

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#foodbeast Culture Food Trends Recipes

8 Things We Learned To Make In Quarantine

2020 has been the year of adjustments, making the best of what the predicament of a pandemic has given us. For many, the pivot to the kitchen has been significant, allowing us to explore our inner chefs and bakers, turning the sudden free time we have into a discovery of dishes we never knew we had the talent to make.

The results of this fervor of kitchen talents have manifested in viral trends, ranging from banana bread to whipped dalgona coffee. Sure, it’s been a tumultuous year for everyone, but at least here’s a reminder of the silver lining that these dishes have been in helping us pass these quarantine times.

1. BREAD

Whether it was mastering the alchemy behind the perfect loaf of sourdough or nailing the ideal moistness in banana bread, folks were in some fervor over their newfound baking prowess.

2. DALGONA COFFEE

The dalgona coffee craze was the hit of early quarantine times, taking the internet by storm in all it’s whipped glory. Sure you’ll get an arm workout out of it, too, but the gym’s have been closed for the most part so there you go.

3. THE PERFECT STEAK

Have you ever reverse seared a steak? It’s definitely something to explore in the kitchen, which many of us did as we spent more time in it this year. Face it, a perfectly crusted, beefy, tender, and juicy medium rare steak goes a long way in curving the quarantine blues.

4. CLOUD BREAD

Sure, bread was already mentioned on this list, but the airy wonder that is cloud bread deserves its own entry. It’s really nothing that many of us have seen before, crediting its viral success to the ultra fluffy texture, as if you were biting straight into a nimbus in the sky.

5. HOT COCOA BOMBS

This treat drew fans from the sweet surprise it revealed once hot milk was poured onto it. As the cocoa bomb melted away, it revealed a cluster of tiny marshmallows while flavoring the milk, creating a concoction of heavenly, wintery bliss.

6. TORNADO EGGS

The supremely satisfying aesthetics of tornado eggs were the selling point here, unveiling a savory yellow rose that was hard to resist. Sat atop a steaming mound of rice and you have yourself a dish that’s sure to awaken your senses each morning.

7. PANCAKE CEREAL

Everybody is a sucker for irresistible little bites, whatever they may be. Pancakes, though? The unexpected yet adorable downsizing of the breakfast staple had us scouring the internet for the best recipe to replicate at home.

8. GROWING YOUR OWN VEGGIES

The trend of growing your own veggies, particularly green onions, grew in popularity for its high utility aspect alone. This definitely was a useful and handy option, especially if it saved you a trip from making a run to the store.

Categories
Culture Fruits & Vegetables Health Nightlife Plant-Based Restaurants

This Creative Eight Course Plant-Based Meal Is Attracting Vegans and Non-Vegans Alike

As a vegan, I know about all the new products, restaurants and Netflix documentaries. I have vegan friends and share some of the same vegan views. At times, in this vegan bubble of mine, I even begin to believe everyone’s becoming vegan. A simple conversation with a relative quickly dispels that notion. The reality is that within the United States, vegans only make up an estimated 3% of the entire population. That’s like comparing an edamame, to an, I don’t know, elephant. 

A recent study reveals the silver lining, as veganism has increased around 300% in the last 15 years. That’s an incredible explosion within a short space of time. You can credit the internet with this “mushroom” cloud of a diet shift. Whereas the initial conversation siloed around animal rights, over the years it’s expanded to include climate change and personal health and wellness. More specifically, two important factors for any new way of approaching things; advances in technology and just plain ol’ hands-on human ingenuity. 

One person forging her own brand of human ingenuity is Executive Chef Mimi Williams of Counterpart Vegan in Echo Park, California. Using 100% market fresh ingredients and plant-based processes, she creates familiar staples that are nearly indistinguishable from their original meat-based iterations. This is in stark contrast to many vegan spots that feature alternative protein-heavy menus, which are great advances as well, yet different. 

Raised in a small town in the Pacific Northwest, Williams was one of only a handful of Black families in the community. She shared a household with her parents and six brothers of Sicilian/Creole descent. Although she didn’t resemble most of her neighbors, Williams had a strong family support system. One could say she grew up with a traditional family in a non-traditional setting.

While her mother seemingly loved cooking and wanted Williams to learn, she recalls initially being resistant, feeling forced into doing a thing based on her gender expectations. Learning how to cook felt more like work than fun. Noticing that, her father encouraged her to cook things that interested her. That encouragement was the magic needed to open the floodgates of the world of food.

Williams’ was pushed to explore alternative diets during a period in which her father experienced health complications. With his doctor citing less meat consumption as a course of action, her family subsequently became early adopters of a mostly plant-based diet. By this time, Williams had become the de facto cook for her family, with her siblings frequently requesting her food.

At first, it took awhile to adjust to a mostly plant-based lifestyle, but after witnessing her father’s health improve firsthand, she was convinced the diet change was the right decision. These experiences helped Williams develop a perspective on food many Black people don’t have. She discovered veganism some years later during pregnancy after realizing she could no longer consume meat.

Honing her craft at restaurants across America, Williams’ still carries the same spirit of fearlessness and creativity her father encouraged as the current Executive Chef of Counterpart Vegan. Joining the team in 2019, she set about revitalizing Counterpart’s array of offerings. She credits a period of stagnant creativity as the stimuli behind her latest eight course tasting menu.

Consisting of familiar foods inspired by her upbringing, the flavors feel authentic. Some of the offerings include heirloom tomato carpaccio with a tasty and tangy vegan feta, pappardelle made from beets, seasoned squash ravioli and an unforgettable tiramisu as the finale. Williams’ new menu is a fine dining experience vegans and non-vegans alike can enjoy. She says she wants people to walk away feeling a sense of hope, and that when they share, “I didn’t know you could do that with this type of food,” that’s how she knows she’s on the right track.

If you’re looking for some momentary respite from quarantine, while supporting small businesses during the pause of outdoor dining, Chef Mimi will be offering a condensed version of the tasting menu as take-out for two. The dinner package will include a salad, appetizer, pasta, dessert, and likely, two non-alcoholic drinks.

There will be 25 of these dinner plates available to all guests and can be pre-ordered on Tock. The dinner package will be available every Friday and Saturday for pick-up, from 6PM-8PM.

Categories
Culture Hit-Or-Miss Sweets What's New

Ben & Jerry’s and Colin Kaepernick Debut Brand New Vegan Flavor

With Ben & Jerry’s stepping up to the plate and being a prominent supporter of social justice, it only made sense for them to link up with ardent social activist and former NFL start Colin Kaepernick to release a brand new, permanent flavor.

Named “Change the Whirled,” the entirely vegan offering features a caramel non-dairy sunflower butter base with fudge chips, graham cracker swirls and chocolate cookie swirls. It’s a tasty plant-based option that makes sense for Kaepernick, who is a vegan himself.

This partnership is an appropriate nod to the courageous work Kaepernick has done to champion social justice, pursuing equity for Black and Brown people, and confronting systemic oppression and police violence. With Ben & Jerry’s aspiring to become a social justice company themselves, this sweet collab is a step in the right direction to shedding more light on the social justice ills that have plagued America. What’s more, this new flavor will also support the work of Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camps, which he founded to advance the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown communities.

Change the Whirled will be available as a full-time flavor at Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops and on store shelves nationwide in the United States beginning in 2021 with a suggested MSRP of $4.99-$5.49. 

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#foodbeast Alcohol Culture FOODBEAST Restaurants SPONSORED

Sake Is The Key To A Tastier Lobster Experience

Synergy is a buzzword that’s used to illustrate vividly the beautiful result of two plus parties or substances working together to achieve something more significant than the sum of their separate effects. Applying the concept to food yields scintillating possibilities, like flavor profiles being enhanced to create more dynamic and memorable dining experiences.

In one useful and powerful example, the synergy between the lauded taste of umami and sake produces a boosted dining encounter. “Umami is created by the meeting of glutamic acid — which is found in sake; you also find it in a lot of fermented food — and inosinic acid, which is found in meat and seafood like lobsters and oysters,” explains sake sommelier Bryan Patrick West. He continues, “When you get a meeting of the sake and flavors in the lobster pot pie, the union will boost the umami levels overall in your tasting experience.”

West guides Foodbeast Reach Guinto through this umami event like the wise sake sherpa he is, teaching him how to smartly pair an exquisite Lobster Pot Pie from Raw Bar by Slapfish in Huntington Beach, CA with three different sakes.

The results vary with each type of sake when eaten with the Lobster Pot Pie, yet the common thread through all three is the heightened taste of umami flavor from the synergy between the seafood and sake. Let’s take a look at the specifics:

Tamano Hikari Junmai Ginjo Yamahai Classic

“Fuller in body, nice and rich, earthy” is how West described this sake. He adds that beyond a fitting pairing to the seafood and root vegetables in the chowder, it is also bold enough to stand up to fried foods like the oyster crowning the pot pie.

Nihon Sakari Daiginjo 

“I personally think that the umami synergy between the fried oyster and this sake in particular will go really, really well,” highlighted West. Historically one of the more prominent producers of premium sake in Japan.

Amabuki Junmai Ginjo “Himawari”

The unique thing about this sake is that the brewery uses yeasts that are derived from flowers. Moreover, it’s an unpasteurized sake, literally giving it a blooming flavor profile that enhances the seafood’s flavor.

“The way I like to put it, [sake] isn’t the star of the show. It’s a really, really good supporting actor creating this savory, umami, mouthwatering note that leaves you wanting more,” illustrates West. 

Another argument can be made in support of how the umami flavor in seafood is enhanced when paired with sake via a recent experiment conducted by AISSY, Inc., a company that provides data and consulting related to the sensation of taste. The experiment revealed that sake, which contains an abundance of umami, increased the umami score no matter the food it was combined with, with the pairing of seafood like grilled lobster achieving the highest increase in umami.

With this synergy between sake and seafood making food taste better, it unlocks so many flavor possibilities through the pairing of them – whether it be through boosting some Lobster Pot Pie with Crispy Oysters as part of the Unlock Your Palate Campaign or any other seafood dish worth the extra push to titillate your palate. 

To learn more about the incredible umami synergy, click here

Created in partnership with JFOODO.

Categories
Art Culture Drinks Food Fashion

PERRIER and Takashi Murakami Collaborate on a Limited Edition Collection

In the spirit of all things bubbly, PERRIER carbonated mineral water and world renowned visual artist, Takashi Murakami join together to create a line of limited edition PERRIER x Takashi Murakami glass bottles featuring the artist’s original artwork.  

The merging of two worlds will take PERRIER’s iconic green glass bottles and adorn them with Murakami’s vibrant and playful art style, making these great statement pieces for serious and casual collectors alike.  The special bottles also feature the artist’s well-known characters Kaikai and Kiki, in some iterations. Murakami is just the latest artist to collaborate with PERRIER, joining a gallery of icons like Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali, who have created pieces with the French water brand over their 150-year long history.  

While the full range of PERRIER x Murakami bottles and cans are available now at retailers nationwide, fans can grab the hottest merch from this momentous collaboration, which include apparel and accessories — exclusively at ComplexLand, the first-of-its-kind digital experience art and music festival, beginning today, December 7, 2020. Virtual visitors will also have the chance to participate in a virtual scavenger hunt, with a Murakami signed collectible as the prize.

Categories
Culture Feel Good Restaurants

How A Movement To Support San Gabriel Valley Restaurants Became A Major Food Event

The restaurant industry has been one of the hardest hit since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 100,000 dining spots have closed nationwide, with a harsh winter leading many to expect that number to only go up over time.

That being said, group efforts have come about to help get restaurants in some areas the support they need. Of course, stimulus funding and federal/state aid is the optimal solution, but for those that choose to stay open, getting the word out is crucial to making enough money to keep selling food.

In Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley, one can attribute a movement called “SGV Eats” as one of the primary reasons the restaurant industry is able to keep going. Originally a group created by friends Alan An, Megan Lam, and Brian Ngoy, their movement has now exploded into over 32,000 people on Facebook, spreading the word on restaurants all over the region.

Photos courtesy of SGV Eats and Brian Nittayo

“When we saw that restaurants were struggling during the pandemic, it ignited something in us to help out,” An told Foodbeast. He, Lam, and Ngoy together started the original group, called “SGV Restaurants Open During COVID-19” at first, as a way to bring light to those restaurants looking to get help.

Lam told Foodbeast that the group started as just the three of them telling their friends, which led to a cascading influx of invitations that saw the group grow to the size it is now. All of the members are locals and restaurateurs who promote and provide support to eateries beyond just their own or their favorites. It’s what Ngoy described as a “phenomenal response” that helped elevate the entire restaurant scene and keep it afloat.

Thanks to their efforts, restaurants who were maybe seeing a few orders a day would sell out close to opening, helping keep many restaurant owners going through the pandemic.

It’s also allowed the innovative food scene in the San Gabriel Valley to flourish. For those not in the know, San Gabriel Valley is an incredibly diverse community: over 44% of the population is Latino and a quarter of residents are of some sort of Asian descent, according to data from the Los Angeles Times.

Photo courtesy of SGV Eats and Brian Nittayo

The SGV is known as a hub for many Asian restaurants, but An, Lam, and Ngoy also surprised even themselves by discovering a large, diverse set of unique restaurants through all of the owners and customers that shared photos and stories of the food. From Filipino food in West Covina to the storied seafood banquet restaurants of San Gabriel, there’s a lot of history and flavor from many parts of the world that reside in the SGV.

You’ll also find a lot of unique restaurants offering creative takes on dishes, often inspired by the meshing of cultures that happens in this region. Mexican and Asian-inspired pizzas, birria loaded burgers, and even Sichuan peppercorn-infused queso are just some examples of the unique dishes the region has to offer.

Photo courtesy of SGV Eats

The team behind SGV Eats is making sure that these restaurants continue to get support for the unique creations they’re making. Outside of the regular daily support the group offers, SGV Eats is also launching a dining event that will spread across the entire valley. Called Eat SGV Week, it features nearly two dozen restaurants that are a part of the group, all of which are providing unique specials and offers to encourage people to order food.

Viral pizza spot Rose City Pizza, for example, is creating a Korean Popcorn Chicken pizza, a spin-off of one of their more recent mouthwatering menu creations. Other options from headliners include a combo meat plate from 38 Degrees Alehouse, a combo pack of obanyaki (stuffed Japanese pancakes) and ube horchata from Mr. Obanyaki, and a meal platter from Hummus Labs, arguably one of the most popular restaurants in the SGV to date.

The Eat SGV Week runs from December 7th to 13th, although you can preorder for pickup on any of those days already on their website.

Photo courtesy of SGV Eats

Going from support group to organizing a dining event that brings together multiple restaurants feels like a large leap. For the SGV Eats team, though, it was just another way to bring assistance and unite the local dining community to help keep it thriving.

Beyond just the Eat SGV week, SGV Eats hopes to find more ways to encourage the community and get folks to discover and explore more local restaurants.

As a bullhorn for one of the more innovative dining regions in the country, they’re definitely a group anybody should join, follow, and be a part of to learn about some of the most creative culinary eats the San Gabriel Valley has to offer.

Categories
Culture Fast Food What's New

McDonald’s Japan’s Double Cheeseburger With Rice Buns Has Got Our Attention

“Gohan” or “Rice Burgers” turned heads when McDonald’s Japan released them earlier this year. But now a new iteration of it has been debuted by the Golden Arches called the Gohan Dabuchi or “Rice Double Cheeseburger,” as reported by SoraNews24, an English-language Japan-based food and pop culture website.

The release of this double cheeseburger with crisped rice buns has generated considerable buzz online, notably for looking so damn delectable with the melty cheese and glistening double patties.

SoraNews24’s own fast food reporter, Seiji Nakazawa was able to try the burger out and gave a glowing review stating, “the taste of beef really stood out in a way it didn’t with other rice burgers” and that its “ratio of beef to rice seemed perfect.”

The Rice Dabuchi is priced at 390 yen ($3.73) plus tax and is accompanied by a regular Dabuchi featuring burger buns for 340 yen ($3.29). These two new burgers debuted on October 28th and are set for a limited run on McDonald’s Japan locations.