When I used to vacation in Japan, I had fun getting creative with the kitchens or kitchenettes in my Airbnbs. The lack of equipment and space made for both excitement and last-minute trips to the hundred yen store: Could I cook pasta, a sauce and a side vegetable all on one hot plate? Could I produce a tasty stir-fry on a burner that inexplicably turned itself off every two minutes? When I moved here with my family, however, amusing inconveniences became closer to my reality. Unlike the four-burner stove and oven setup that I was used to in Canada, in the beginning, I had two occasionally temperamental gas burners, with a tiny fish grill underneath them.
Because I love cooking and I am feeding a family, we outgrew this setup almost immediately. While my pocketbook wept, we quickly added a rice cooker to the mix, alongside some other small appliances to make procuring three meals a day much more pleasant and convenient. Below is my list of five that are not leaving my kitchen anytime soon and that I heartily recommend to get you on track for more home cooking and all the health benefits it brings.
1. Hot Plate
The first item on this list is perhaps as well used as the stove in my house: the Bruno hot plate. The Bruno, with its sleek design, fashionable colors and multi-insert functionality, first wowed me years ago in a Tokyu Hands display on a trip to Japan. The base model and “grande” large model both come with a non-stick flat pan and a takoyaki (grilled octopus ball) pan for endless riffs on meals and snacks. Indeed, in one of its forms (including the grill pan which I bought separately!), the Bruno is …continue reading
One particularly fruity development is the release of CBDX, a drink that contains 20 milligrams of CBD oil in 250-milliliter (eight-ounce) cans for 500 yen (US$3.69) each. It recently showed up at vending machines operated by Cheerio, a soft drink maker known for its unusual creations like soda that looks like mayonnaise and carbonated choco-mint drinks.
The release made a buzz online with comments such as the following:
“We’re in an age where you can buy that stuff in vending machines.” “I tried it! It had a fruity flavor reminiscent of a tropical island.” “A small amount of CBD doesn’t work…” “A Strong Zero is more cost-effective I think.” “Whenever I look at these kinds of health drinks, I think if they were really effective, they’d be made into actual medicine rather than just health drinks.” “You’d have to be a millionaire to buy 500-yen drinks from a vending machine in this economy.” “Is it OK to drink that at work?”
That last comment poses an interesting question, so let’s find out by drinking some at work! Of course, CBDX is made with CBD oil that contains no THC in accordance with Japanese law, but the substance alone is said to have some health benefits such as pain and anxiety relief.
Hiyashi chuka is my go-to dish as soon as it’s warm enough to stop wearing long sleeves. The cool noodles and the refreshing tang of the vinegar really hit the spot on a hot summer night, and it helps that there’s not a lot of cooking to do, so I’m not sweating buckets by the time I sit down to eat.
Hiyashi chuka is a customizable cold noodle dish using the same egg noodles often used in ramen, called “chuka men” (Chinese noodles). Although there are tons of variations (and you’re welcome to try your own), for this Japanese Recipe Adventure, we’ll take a look at the style you’ll most commonly find in Japan. But it will be much better because you’ll have made it yourself!
This recipe makes two bowls of hiyashi chuka.
For the noodles and toppings:
2 portions of chuka men (or any other egg noodle)
Oil as needed
2 slices of ham
1 Japanese cucumber (or half an English cucumber)
Half a large tomato
Mustard and beni shoga (red pickled ginger) for garnish (optional)
For the tare (sauce)
6 tablespoons of vinegar
4 tablespoons of cold water
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of sesame oil
1 tablespoon of sugar
Cutting it fine
The hardest part is cutting your toppings into neat, thin strips. For the egg, you’ll make a very thin omelet, which is basically just a sheet of egg. If you use too high a heat, it will get dry and crispy, which is hard to cut into thin strips. Instead, use low heat, then, once cooked, gently roll up the …continue reading
Until only a few decades ago, there were no strict guidelines regarding food labels and allergies in Japan. In many cases, it was assumed that common sense directed food choices (given that you knew your allergies), thus oftentimes limiting people with allergies in a big way. Today, however, most restaurants as well as stores in Tokyo offer lists of their food/ingredients and can offer detailed explanations of what foods are allergy-safe from certain ingredients.
The same can also be said for supermarkets. Most food products are labeled by their manufacturers with a list of allergens that are either part of the food or produced in the same factory as the food. The content of these labels is based on government standards and lists ingredients that the foods contain or may have come in contact with, the same as those found overseas.
Unfortunately, as with most food labels in Japan, this information is typically only available in Japanese. But worry not: Here is the information you need, supported with examples of different food labels so that non-Japanese speakers can safely shop — and enjoy — every bit of Japan’s cuisine!
If you aren’t sure whether a given product contains any of the following allergens, print this page, find a clerk at the grocery store and ask “kono shohin ni ○○ ga haiitemasuka?” (この商品に○○が入ってますか？), just to be sure. And if the staff can’t tell you, then you might want to skip that product. So, here they are.
Japan’s Top Allengens
The top seven
This listing will state whether the product contains any of the following ingredients, which are classified as severe allergic-reaction-causing …continue reading
Sold-out meals cause a buzz online, but are they really worth a visit to the airport?
This month, a unique vending machine appeared at Haneda Airport, filled with in-flight meals.
That’s right — now you don’t even have to step on a plane to get a taste of what the world’s airline passengers are having, because this machine is operated by Cosmo Company, which provides in-flight meals to big airline companies like Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, and Air New Zealand.
The machine is well worth travelling to Haneda Airport for, even if you aren’t booked on a flight, and that’s what a lot of people have been doing, because stock has been selling out regularly since it first made its debut on 3 June.
▼ There are five types of meals on offer, priced at 980 yen (US$7.28) each.
Located in the public entrance area on the first floor of Haneda Airport Terminal 2, this rare vending machine sells its meals frozen, so you can either take them straight home if you’re living in Japan, or pop them in your luggage and take them on the plane for heating after you arrive home, wherever your home may be.
▼ We purchased all five meals and took them home for a taste test, popping each one in the microwave on defrost for two minutes and then heating them at 500 Watts for five minutes.
Healthy eating isn’t exactly known for being healthy for the bank account. Especially not in Tokyo, where it’s often cheaper to eat out at restaurants than to buy groceries. However, Japanese cuisine does have options to stay healthy while keeping the shopping trips affordable.
How can I have an interesting diet with variety while working towards my fitness goals?
One of the most important concepts when it comes to eating healthy is that of satiety. Some foods make you feel fuller than others. This means that with certain food choices you can eat more for less. When you’re eating something like cabbage, 500 calories is going to measure out to being a lot more substance than 500 calories of cake would be. The cabbage will
Traditional wagashi confection gets a very modern overhaul.
Back in 1972, respected Belgian chocolatier Godiva made its first foray into Japan, and over the years, it’s grown to become one of the country’s most popular and well-known chocolate brands. Now, to celebrate its 50th anniversary in Japan, Godiva is paying homage to customers here with an unprecedented release involving a traditional Japanese sweet — yokan.
▼ The Yokan is one of the new products in Godiva’s “Summer Collection”, available only from 25 May to 23 August.
Yokan is a traditional wagashi (Japanese confection) that’s commonly sold as a smooth and slightly firm block, which is usually cut into slices before being eaten. It’s traditionally made with red bean paste, agar, and sugar, but for this Godiva celebration, the yokan will be appearing in two flavours, Chocolate and CacaoFruits.
Keen to find out what a Godiva yokan would taste like, we picked up a box of five and unwrapped the chocolate one first, which looked like a slab of chocolate ganache.
Slicing it in two revealed that familiar firm, jelly-like texture yokan is known for, but biting into it revealed it had a very unique taste. It was lighter than a yokan, with an intense chocolate flavour that left a lingering rich sweetness on the palate.
▼ No strong red bean taste here.
It was an incredibly high-quality sweet, which elevated our expectations for the Cacao Fruits version.
This one was even lighter in flavour than the chocolate one, and it was so silky smooth it felt as if …continue reading
Vending machines in Japan are known for conveniently being just around every corner, but they might as well be known for carrying just about everything as well. While standard beverages go without saying, recent years have seen vending machines in the country dishing out drinkable ramen broth, pizza, and even fancy French gourmet meals.
Twitter user Hirotaka (@tabi_gari) recently stumbled upon a vending machine in a surprising place that has many clamoring for it to be installed throughout the country. While visiting Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Hirotaka found a vending machine that dispenses international airline cuisine!
“While at Haneda airport, I went to check out the “in-flight meals of the world” vending machines that launched this month. You can get a total of five different meals for 980 a person, including Coq Au Vin from France, Paella from Spain, and Gapao rice from Thailand. It’d be great if you could warm it up right there and eat in the airport. Then you could feel international even on domestic flights.“
To the surprise of many on Twitter, Haneda Airport has a specific vending machine that dishes out international themed airline food. While airline food may not top many Michelin lists, something about the novelty of gourmet options from different international flights such as Coq Au Vin (France), Paella (Spain), Gapao rice (Thailand), Massaman curry (Thailand), shrimp with yuzu black pepper and cream sauce (USA and Japan) being available in a vending machine to take home has gotten a very positive response. …continue reading
Japan’s Anna Miller’s restaurant chain, operated by Imuraya Corporation, opened its first location in the Aoyama neighborhood of Tokyo in 1973 and has been offering Pennsylvania Dutch pies and American cuisine, inspired by the original Anna Miller’s in the United States, ever since. At one point, there were as many as 25 locations in Tokyo and Yokohama, but after the Yokohama Landmark Tower branch closed in 2012, the only remaining branch has been the one in the Keikyu Wing Takanawa shopping center opposite Shinagawa Station, a major transportation hub in Tokyo.
However, the Takanawa branch, which has been operating since 1983, will close its doors on August 31st, 2022.
Reason for Closing
Located on the second floor of the Keikyu Wing Takanawa shopping center in front of Shinagawa Station, the branch has played a major role in promoting the Anna Miller’s brand to the world over the past 40 years, thanks to its excellent location and the patronage of many customers. Numerous English comments on review sites praise the store for the comforting ambiance, American cuisine and pies, and friendly service.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has requested that the branch be relocated in conjunction with the Shinagawa Station West Exit Infrastructure Development Project, and Imaruya Co. has decided to cooperate, along with the other tenants moving out of the shopping center.
Although the company is considering new potential locations for the store, no decision has been made at the present time.
Hours on closing day, August 31st, will be 8:00 to 22:00.
The history of Anna Miller’s in Japan
Anna Miller’s opened its first store in Tokyo’s Minami-Aoyama neighborhood in 1973. Jiro Imura, the first president of Imuraya Confectionery Co., formed a partnership with the San Francisco-based Anna Miller’s and launched the business in Japan.
After 40 years, the final Anna Miller’s cafe in Japan is closing down.
In 1973, Japanese confectionary company Imuraya opened Japan’s first branch of Anna Miller’s. Though the restaurant had started out in Hawaii, it really took off in the Tokyo area, expanding to 25 different locations serving American-style cafe fare and a mouthwatering lineup of pies.
Now, 40 years later, there’s only one Anna Miller’s left in Japan, and it’s just announce that it’s closing.
▼ The first Japanese Anna Miller’s, located in Tokyo’s Aoyama neighborhood
Zoom in on the above photo, and you’ll see that the sign at the entrance says “Wait for your waitress.” Odds are it was put there to avoid confusion, since although many casual restaurants in Japan allow customers to just come on in and claim any unoccupied table, Anna Miller’s followed the American style of having servers guide customers to a seat. The mention of a waitress is fitting, though, because as loved as Anna Miller’s pies are among fans, the restaurant is just as well-known for its iconic waitress uniforms, which have appeared as homages and parodies in numerous anime, manga, and video game series.
▼ An Anna Miller’s waitress at the Tokyo Takanawa branch
On Tuesday, Imuraya announced that its last remaining Anna Miller’s branch, located in Tokyo’s Takanawa neighborhood, will be permanently closing this summer. The cafe is located inside the Wing Takanawa shopping center, but the complex is scheduled to be demolished as part of a redevelopment project and the tenant businesses are being asked to vacate. Imuraya has no current concrete plans to reopen Anna Miller’s elsewhere, saying that it has been searching for a location as attractive …continue reading