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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.

Categories
Food Trends Humor Products Sweets

Meet Japan’s Mayonnaise-Flavored Ice Cream Bar

Photo provided by Moringa Milk Supply

From candied squid to tomato chocolates, Japan is known for their unconventional flavor concoctions. Continuing that tradition, Moringa Milk Industry is here to twist your taste expectations yet again with a mayonnaise-flavored ice cream bar. It goes by the equally outrageous name The Calorie Monster Cherio Creamy Mayonnaise Flavor, is 307 calories and coated in white chocolate and cookie crumbs. Sure to fulfill even the sweetest of tooths, it surpasses the average calorie count in Japanese milk teas which come in around 278. 

Photo Provided by log1i_yk for Gigazine.net

A taste review reveals that a bite into this milky beast has an initial crispy texture of white chocolate and cookie crumbs before giving way to the sour creaminess of mayonnaise flavor within. The mayo aftertaste is unmistakable, though doesn’t overwhelm the white chocolate sweetness. This takes Japan’s love for mayonnaise to a whole new level.

The Calorie Monster Cherio Creamy Mayonnaise Flavor ice cream bar is now available until March 2020 at convenience stores and supermarkets all around Japan and can be found online here.

Categories
Fast Food Hacks

KFC Rice Cooker Hack Is Some Next-Level Cookery

While we’re here in the states enjoy our Kentucky Fried Chicken with a fresh buttery biscuit and some dangerously sweet honey sauce, Japanese Foodbeasts on the other side of the world have discovered a game-changing method for fans of the fried chicken chain.

Nextshark reports that a new KFC trend has been sweeping Japan that anyone with a rice cooker must try ASAP.

Called “KFC Japanese Rice,” you take a rice cooker and fill it with rice, chicken stock, and a bit of soy sauce. Then, take two pieces of the Colonel’s Original Recipe Chicken and set it inside the cooker and turn it on.

After the rice is cooked, shred the chicken and mix it into the rice. The result seems to be a wildly flavorful rendition of rice paired with the 11 herbs and spices that make KFC insanely popular in Japan.

Definitely something to consider the next time we order a bucket of the Colonel’s chicken and want to meal prep for the rest of the week.

Wonder how this trick will fare with Popeyes chicken, though?

Categories
Celebrity Grub Culture

New Show ‘Gochi Gang’ Is An Intimate Deep-Dive Into Japanese Cuisine and Culture

First We Feast’s new series ‘Gochi Gang’ premiered this Tuesday.  Hosted by YouTuber, anime producer, and food lover Reina Scully, the show highlights the cultural impact of Japanese cuisine in the U.S. beyond sushi and ramen. The name Gochi Gang was inspired by the Japanese phrase for gratitude, “gochisousama,” which is typically expressed after a meal. The gang represents the spirit of togetherness that sharing food with others brings. 

Japanese cuisine was gradually introduced to the United States decades ago. Initially, immigrants unaccustomed to American food would only eat imports. Since the end of the 19th century, Japanese immigrants were concentrated in neighborhoods called Nihonmachi, or it’s aptly named English counterpart, Japantown. While a macro view of these neighborhoods may correlate them negatively to a “ghetto,” Nihonmachis actually provided a space for Japanese culture to persist on foreign soil. It’s within these areas importation of homeland goods began slowly spreading to Americans in neighborhoods beyond.

Naturally, Japanese cuisine is vast. Sushi and ramen popularity within the US can be traced back to the post-World War II invention of instant noodles and endorsement of sushi by the McGovern Report. The McGovern Report (Dietary Goals for the United States, 1977) was published by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs. Due to this, Japanese cuisine spread, yet has been mostly spearheaded by sushi and ramen. 

Gochi Gang aims to burst the floodgates to Japanese cuisine wide open. For Japanese people, preparing and eating food goes beyond mere sustenance. Reina Scully shared her thoughts on why it’s important to raise awareness about the culture and cuisine:

“Both Japanese culture and cuisine are multifaceted and interconnected with each other. Japanese food is generally typecast as ramen and sushi, but that’s just the very tip of the iceberg. There’s so much that’s worth exploring and the world deserves more insight into Japanese culture and food because it reveals how important of a role it plays in our history and tradition.“

Scully hopes that viewers not only learn about the wide range of tasty options, but also see how respectful Japan is regarding food. “We believe that food itself is spiritual and we treat it and those who prepare it with the utmost respect and gratitude,” Scully expressed. I personally believe that when food is connected to something deeper, it elevates the food itself. Equipped with experience and a little help from notable foodies, Scully is prepared to take you on a journey through the history of Japanese cuisine. Catch the first episode of Gochi Gang HERE and after you fill up on brain food, remember to say gochisousama!

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#foodbeast Adventures Animals Cravings Features FOODBEAST News SPONSORED Sustainability Video

Sustainable Farming Could Help Bluefin Tuna Populations Rally While Satisfying Sushi Lovers

The most popular fish that we eat are often the ones that get overwhelmingly overfished around the world. Such is the case for the bluefin tuna, whose fatty pink flesh has made it a prized gem for sushi and sashimi lovers. So coveted, in fact, that single bluefin tuna have sold for millions of dollars in Japan.

As a result of its popularity and demand, the bluefin population is now at a dangerously low amount that it may never recover from. However, $800 million worth of it is still consumed annually, further putting the entire species at risk of extinction.


Photo: Marc Kharrat//Foodbeast

One might think that farming is a potential solution to help the bluefin tuna, but unsustainable management and environmental concerns from fish waste have produced more problems than solutions in that regard. However, Tokyo trading giant Mitsui & Co. (Mitsui) is looking to rectify that issue. They’ve developed a new form of sustainable tuna farming that could satisfy sushi lovers while letting populations in the wild recover without a massive environmental strain.


Photo courtesy of Mitsui & Co.

To discover this process for ourselves, the FOODBEAST team followed a single fish raised by Mitsui from birth to sashimi. From a laboratory and farm in Southern Japan to a California sushi restaurant, we were able to see how the fish was raised, treated, fed, cared for, slaughtered, broken down, and served.

It’s an eye-opening process that shows just how much TLC goes into raising each tuna, and you can view it in its entirety in the above mini-doc.


Photo: Marc Kharrat//Foodbeast

With Mitsui supplying the tuna to restaurants around the world and New York-based seafood distributor Mark Foods, Inc. supplying the tuna in the U.S., this new sustainable practice could help change the future of tuna farming as we know it, and may one day help get tuna off of the endangered seafood list. It’ll definitely help us eat this sustainable tuna with the conscience that we’re helping save their wild populations by doing so.


Created in partnership with Mitsui & Co