Culture Technology

Quirky Japanese Vending Machines We NEED In The US

During my college days working the late hours of a newsroom, the vending machine was my best friend. But the endless cycle of salty chips and sugary drinks grew tiresome, and I longed for something more unique out of that snack dispenser.

If only I had known how other parts of the world innovate their vending machines to provide something more.

Take the Setouchi region of Japan, for example. In a country that boasts the highest density of vending machines in the world, it’s not surprising that there will be a handful that offering something outside of the typical snacks or candies. However, the ones in Setouchi stand out for putting the truly unexpected inside of their machines.

Behold, some of the more whimsical vending machine offerings that can be found in the Setouchi region of Japan, as well as other parts of the beautiful country.


Courtesy of Yamaguchi prefecture

While the Japanese noodle soup is probably best served fresh, sometimes you’ll need a hearty helping of noodles and broth while in a pinch. A few machines in the Setouchi region of Japan are home to Udon vending machines that serve up noodles, broth, green onions and meat. Perfect for when you’re in the mood for some soup without the hassle of interacting with a human person.


Courtesy of Setouchi Tourism Authority

In select parking lots in the Hiroshima or Okayama Prefectures, one may stumble upon a vending machine filled with dashi, a traditional Japanese broth. Dashi is made from dried bonito, a type of tuna, and kombu seaweed. The stock is typically used as a base for soups or to season ingredients. SoraNews24 says that one vending machine location in Hiroshima sells as many as 200 bottles each day, both for the novelty of a vending machine souvenir and as an actual ingredient for cooking.


Courtesy of Setouchi Tourism Authority

One of the more common vending machines in Japan feature fresh eggs. These are stocked by local farmers that could contain up to 21 boxes in each machine. The prices for these range depending on the size and amount you want, but if you’re looking to create an omelet on short notice, this contraption could be a lifesaver.



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Instant pizza? Yes, please. Vending machines housing slices of savory pizza have been popping up around Japan for years now. Every time I see a photo of one, I am saddened that this ingenious marriage of Italian food and technology has yet to become mainstream in the US. Just the thought of knowing I can get a slice in seconds at any hour of the day brings me so much comfort.



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The Ehime prefecture is best known for its oranges and produces more than 250,000 tons of different citrus fruits. To celebrate the bountiful supply of citrus, there is a vending machine located on the entrance of the Ehime Egao Kanko Bussankan in the Matsuyama Ropeways Shopping District that dispenses the fresh fruit. In order to prevent bruising, the oranges are placed in cans that can be opened upon purchase.

Culture Video

Watch American Kids Try Japanese Food For The First Time

Japanese food is definitely one of our go-to dinner choices after a long day at work. While the thought of a Japanese dinner leaves our mouths salivating, there are a ton of people who haven’t tried the cuisine before.

WatchCut Video‘s latest video has a bunch of American kids trying Japanese food for the first time in their young lives.

The dishes featured included: miso soup, Natto Gohan (fermented soybeans), sashimi (raw fish), daikon (pickled radish), umeboshi (pickled plums), Udon noodles, shrimp tempura, and Oshiruko (red bean soup & mochi).

While a savory feast for those familiar, these dishes can often come off as strange and off-putting to children unfamiliar with the cuisine. Still, props to these kids for giving the food a fair shake. Plus, there’s a hilarious B Plot where no one can figure out how to use the chopsticks.

Check out the adorable video and see if you can pass up some Japanese food for dinner.


This Japanese Restaurant Serves Noodles In Ice Cube Bowls And It’s The Most Beautiful Thing


A few weeks ago, we found footage of a restaurant in Japan serving noodles through a bamboo shoot. Think of it as a delicious super-slide. Now, it seems noodles in Japan are getting yet another unconventional treatment. This one’s slightly more beautiful.

Tempura Matsu, found in Kyoto, Japan, is known for serving their noodles in stunning bowls made of solid ice. According to Rocket News 24, the noodles (inaniwa udon) are made from mugwort and topped with wasabi and a raw egg yolk.

As you can see, the udon rests beautifully in the icy container.

It seems diners can’t help but share their photos of their stunning dish through social media. Hey, if we were lucky enough to be there, we’d probably do the same.


Mango-Flavored Yogurt Noodles Defy Brain Logic

Mango Yogurt Noodles

I like to think of myself as an adventurous eater. I’m down to eat odd food combos like Rootbeer Pickle relish, but there comes a point when I’m thrown for a loop and come across a really offbeat duo. Cue: Mango Yogurt Udon.

Japanese noodle chain Tsurutontan created this sweet dish made of udon in a rich mango yogurt sauce that’s basically dessert disguised as lunch. While this concoction may sound a little iffy, according to Rocket News 24, it’s pretty tasty and carries a “refreshingly sharp aroma that positively screams ‘summer'”.

Mango Yogurt Noodles

Unfortunately you’d have to head on over to Japan to try this stuff, so for now, the Ramen Burger will have to do.

H/T + PicThx Rocket News 24


This is What Clam Chowder Udon Looks Like

Earlier this week I had a chance to fly out to Cleveland, Ohio for Certified Angus Beef’s 2012 Culinary Ideation and Trends Session. The post for all that is coming soon, but while I was there, I also caught wind of at least one food item I never thought I would hear about, ever.

I im’ed my editor immediately:

“Clam. Chowder. Udon.”

This explosion of East meets . . . further . . . East comes from Cleveland-based restaurant Noodlecat, which opened in August 2011. Branded as a “slurpalicious Japanese-American mash-up from Chef Jonathon Sawyer,” much of Noodlecat’s menu looks like what happens when a college student decides to go to culinary school and comes back to make the exact same foods he made before, only a million times better.

To be honest, the whole menu is jaw-dropping, so expect this to turn into a continuing series of posts, but to kick us off, the Clam Chowder Udon pictured above is a fusion-inspired soup made with udon noodles, potatoes, onions, celery and bacon, in a creamy clam and bonito broth.

Truth be told, the official menu actually says the bacon is “optional,” but if you’re a regular Foodbeast reader, you should know by now that bacon is never optional. And if you’re a regular Foodbeast reader from Ohio, neither is paying Noodlecat a visit. Like, right now.

[Photo via Noodlecat]


Craving: Udon Noodles

Whenever it’s cold outside, instead of chicken noodle soup, I go for udon. Thick, rice noodles served in your choice of broths, udon is Japanese deliciousness. Try it if you haven’t yet. (PicThx ClosetCooking)