Categories
Cravings Packaged Food What's New

Pringles Debuts Stunning Karaage Flavor In Japan This Month

Photo courtesy of Pringles Japan

There’s always that one menu item that, no matter where you dine for the first time, if you see it, you have to order it. For me, those two items are Garlic Fish Sauce Wings at Vietnamese joints and Karaage Chicken at Japanese restaurants. 

Thanks to Pringles, one of my favorite appetizers is getting its own flavor to kick off 2021. While Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings Pringles won’t be hitting snack shelves anytime soon, residents of Japan will want to check stores for the new Karaage Aji flavor — the first new flavor addition for the Pringles brand in Japan this year. 

SoraNews24 reports the new variation is based on the bite-sized morsels of fried chicken thighs that are breaded, seasoned, and deep-fried. Those flavors, including garlic and onion powder, are now dusted onto each Pringles chip, recreating the popular chicken snack profiles. 

You can find the new Pringles hitting shelves beginning Jan. 25 at select stores in Japan. Alright, Pringles Vietnam, let’s get on those Fish Sauce Wing chips next, please.

Categories
Fast Food

Burger King Japan’s Extreme Burger Is 1lb Of Meat And Doesn’t Mess With Buns

Photo courtesy of Burger King Japan

Whenever craving a fast-food burger, for me, the meatier, the better. When Burger King Japan dropped a new burger that featured an incremental amount of meat and nixed the burger buns, my jaw dropped.

The Japanese branch of the iconic Burger King chain just introduced the Extreme Burger.

Boasting more than 1 pound of meat, the sandwich features four juicy beef patties, tomato, lettuce, pickles, onions, and cheese.

Customers who find stability in burger buns may need to look elsewhere. Though a slightly more expensive version with buns, dubbed the Maximum Burger, is also available for purchase.

Available now at all Burger King locations in Japan, the burger is priced at 1400 yen (USD 13.50), making it more than three times the price of a Whopper in the country. Still, for more than a pound of burger, that sounds about right.

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.

Categories
Adventures Packaged Food

Hard-To-Find Japanese Snacks Headline This Subscription Snack Box

The snack scene in some parts of the world is innovative, creative, and tasty beyond belief. This is especially true in Japan, where the snacks range from your standard range of chips to a plethora of unique KitKat flavors, mochi, and more.

For those looking to get some of the harder-to-find Japanese snacks, there’s a subscription box service called Bokksu that tracks them down and gets a ton of them to your door.

Bokksu works directly with local snack manufacturers in Japan, some of whom have been in business for hundreds of years. The comapany’s specialty is using those connections to make hard-to-find snacks more accessible globally.

You have the option to get one of their snack boxes, which are thematic (ie. “Seasons of Japan”) and can change, but there’s also a marketplace where you can buy items individually, including some of those coveted Japanese KitKat flavors.

Foodbeast got a box to try filled with a lot of snacks we normally wouldn’t expect to find just shopping around in the U.S. These include uni-flavored crackers, freeze-dried whole strawberries, yuzu sake candy, matcha and red bean sponge cakes, obanyaki-inspired cookies, and even a sack of Kinako sugar donuts.

The variety and breadth of local snacks available is definitely intriguing and makes for an interesting gift or just something you can get to satisfy your cravings.

Bokksu boxes are available for sale on their website.

Categories
Plant-Based

IKEA Japan Serves Up New Meatless Katsu Curry

Photo courtesy of IKEA Japan

When I think of IKEA, my first thought lands on those juicy Swedish Meatballs swimming in rich gravy. The furniture itself, an afterthought. Not too long ago, I discovered that my local IKEA offered a vegan alternative to those meatballs, and they were phenomenal. 

That’s why it doesn’t come as a surprise that the furniture company is embracing plant-based alternatives even across the globe. 

IKEA locations in Japan have now released a brand new plant-based katsu curry, reports SoraNews 24

Dubbed “Born of the Field” Plant Katsu Curry, guests will find not a single morsel of meat within the curry dish. The katsu is made from a mix of soybean and other plant-based ingredients. It’s topped off with a creamy vegetable curry and served with a side of rice. 

The new menu item’s idea was to create something more sustainable and have a less environmental impact than regular meat. If IKEA Japan’s foot traffic is anything like the US’, it can definitely go through a lot of meat. 

IKEA Japan has also added an entire menu designed around a plant-based motif. This includes rolled cabbage, plant kebab salad, veggie wraps, vegan cheese dogs, and plant-based chocolate mousse. 

Customers can find the new plan-based Katsu Curry at all IKEA Japan locations across the country. 

Categories
Design Fast Food

Stunning Starbucks Tokyo Shop Features Office-Style Design

Photo courtesy of Starbucks Japan

I’ve spent a third of my workdays writing from various Starbucks locations throughout Southern California for the past decade, and there will definitely be times where it’s tough to focus.

Between the morning rush, high school youths ordering their daily Frappucinos at 3:05 pm, or that one individual who takes up an entire table to charge all their electronics with a power strip can often make it difficult to concentrate.

Photo courtesy of Starbucks Japan

A Starbucks Location in Tokyo just opened that is a dream workspace for anyone trying to regain their focus.

In a collaborative partnership with Think Lab, creators of innovative workspaces throughout Japan, the Starbucks located inside the Circles Ginza building features a Smart Lounge that’s a remote work wonderland.

The second floor of the coffee store features a plethora of single workspaces sectioned off for semi-privacy.

Photo courtesy of Starbucks Japan

There’s also a Smart Lounge area for collaborative meetings that contain projectors and privacy for teleconferences.

Those meeting in groups can reserve group tables or solo working areas through the Think Lab smartphone app. At the same time, they wait for their coffee order. Each reservation can be placed in 15-minute increments.

Photo courtesy of Starbucks Japan

Think Lab utilized research to create an optimal environment for concentration through plants, natural sounds, temperature/humidity, lighting, and original aroma.

While quite a few similar Starbucks locations have popped up in the US, it’s safe to say none have entirely embraced this workflow. Here’s to hoping this catches on with US Starbucks operators!

Categories
Products

These Kitchen Knives Are Designed To Look Like Actual Samurai Swords

Would your meals taste better knowing that you made them using a samurai sword? Absolutely.

What started off as a crowd-funded campaign quickly became a success as the collaboration between legendary knife maker Sekikantsugu and Nikken Cutlery is now offering their samurai-inspired kitchen knives to the general public, Sora News reports.

The knives are based off a famous trio of famous Japanese shogun and swordsmen throughout history. This includes Edo period activist Sakamoto Ryoman, vice commander of the Shinsengumi police force Hijikata Toshizo, and Oda Nobunaga one of the greatest samurai warlords in the history of Japan.

Made with stainless steel, the knives are about 9.8 inches in length with the blade itself being about 5.5 inches. Sure they look like novelty kitchenware, but know that these handcrafted knives are extremely sharp and meticulously created for comfort and precision (much like samurai blades).

Should at least do the trick with some stubborn carrots.

You can buy them for about 7,700 yen each ($71.93 USD) here.

Categories
Food Trends Restaurants Technology

Could This Japanese Robot Cafe Be The Future of Restaurants?

Photo Provided by OryLab Inc.

Pop culture has always envisioned what our future may look like. Sometimes we’re wowed by concepts like instant microwavable meals. Other times, scary possibilities are delivered with a comedic tinge, like soda replacing water. Mostly, entertainment touts the inevitable demise of human civilization at the hands of our superior robotic counterparts. There always seems to be something irreconcilable about the nature of humankind that robots or A.I., find too flawed to compute. While many futurist theories have remained theories due to lack of capable technology, recent years have seen the gap between entertainment and real life begin to close.

No country is ahead of the futurist curve more than Japan. From building real life mechs to heated toilet seats, Japan always has its finger on the pulse of possibilities. One Japanese company, OryLab Inc., has a more optimistic approach to robotic application.

One of their experiments involved an interactive pop-up shop named Robot Cafe Dawn Version Beta 2.0. Guests were invited to a cafe which featured a remotely-operated robotic waitstaff. The experience offered a peek into the potential future where robotics and smart technology intersect, introducing new possibilities for people with disabilities. Basically, OryLab Inc. took the Avatar concept and brought it to life, albeit in a much simpler, less colorful way. 

Robot Cafe Dawn Version Beta 2.0’s robotic waitstaff were piloted by ALS and SMA patients who are unable to leave their bed. ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a disease that causes the death of neurons controlling voluntary muscles and SMA (superior mesenteric artery syndrome) is a rare digestive system disorder. Creator Kentaro “Ory” Yoshifuji envisioned a future where bedridden patients, typically unable to participate in normal societal activities or occupations, could put their skills to use. 

Within the cafe, guests can order from small OriHime robots placed on each table, each remotely operated by patients known as pilots. Beverages are then ushered to the table by larger robots equipped with arms known as OriHime D. These are also remotely piloted and guests can converse with the pilot by talking to the robot. The pop-up was a test to learn what shortcomings the technology currently has. 

With all the talk of robots replacing us, this application of robotic technology has the potential to benefit many people facing physical disabilities that have long been unable to contribute their skills to society. OryLab Inc. CEO Kentaro Yoshifuji’s mission is to “let anyone, even a person with a disability, go anywhere in the world,” and was inspired by the CEO’s desire to help a personal friend with ALS. Their aim is to launch a permanent Avatar cafe later this year.

Who knows if this will catch on within the restaurant world? Either way, it does point to a more promising future where humans and robots can collaborate to improve lives.