Low Calorie Nikuman

This is from a few months ago, but it relates to my recent tendency to eat nikuman for breakfast. Sunkus Circle K convenience stores introduced low calorie nikumans to their stores.

One nikuman typically has 208 to 220 calories, while this new low calorie nikuman only has 128 calories.

Yogurt Named Trend of the Decade in US

When I was young, very few people ate yogurt in the US. It was considered to be something for vegetarians or tree-huggers.

Yogurt eventually came to take up lots of shelf space, but the varieties I have seen in the US have not been very appealing - they all seem to be no fat for adults or overly sweet and a strange color for kids. Yogurt in Japan and Europe tastes better, in my opinion. It is very good that yogurt's nutritional value is becoming well known.

The news as I see it is that Americans are finally starting to realize the benefit of probiotics, for which yogurt is a natural match.

The realizations of yogurt and probiotics lag way behind Europe and Asia though. Sort of like finally discovering the obvious.


100 Yen Sale at Mister Donut

Periodically, Mister Donut in Japan runs 100 yen sales where most of the donuts are on sale for that price. That ends up being a pretty good discount, because the regular price for donuts is between 120 and 147 yen.

We were reading and drinking coffee for about 2 hours in our local Mister Donut this past Sunday and it was pretty amazing. There was a constant line of people extending out the door, and most people where buying in bulk for takeout.


Sapporo's Luxurious Off

I tried Sapporo's "Luxurious Off" (オフの贅沢) near-beer the other day. Its main selling point is 70% cut in carbohydrates. It falls into the happoshu category of near-beer (read low malt content). It also boasts partial use of roasted malt and that all malt and hops are cultivated under collaborative deals.

Not bad, but low malt, low carbohydrate takes a toll on taste.

On the label:
"The tasty low-carbohydrate brew made with roasted malt for deep and rich barley flavor."
焙煎麦芽  一部使用


Sapporo X Royce' - Chocolat Brewery

Sapporo Breweries Ltd. and Royce' Confect Co. Ltd (a Sapporo based small chocolate maker) have collaborated on a chocolate flavored beer-like drink.
The English on the label reads "Chocolat Brewery is made from roasted malt and cacao, having the characteristic of aromatic chocolate flavor and bitter taste". It is also labeled as "BITTER".

The Japanese on the advertisement translates very roughly as "Sapporo and Royce' present you with an adult brew".

The actual taste is not very bitter and is closer to a chocolate drink, and technically falls under the category of "hopposhu beer", making it taxed at a lower rate. Nevertheless, it is a premium product, selling for 268 yen per bottle at the Bic Camera discount liquor store. This product is "limited", meaning it will only be sold for several months or this product cycle.

Photo is a web capture for explanitory purposes, copyright belongs to the company.


Bikkuri Donkey and hamburger

Last night, we ate at Bikkuri Donkey, which is a"hamburger" restaurant chain. When you say hamburger in Japan, you mean chopped steak. The first time I went to a hamburger restaurant in Japan, I was surprised at the complete absence of buns - not on the menu.
There are plenty of fast food restaurants which serve hamburgers as I grew up to know them and those are also called hamburgers.
Last week, I tried to find some hamburger buns at the grocery store and couldn't find any. They are available, but you might have to visit a few supermarkets to find them.


Japanese Diet and Sustainable Fishing

There is an article at Japan Today about the effect of a potential ban on tuna exports on Japanese consumers. That leads to the subject of Japan and sustainability. I recently had lunch with a fairly high level manager at one of the large Japan seafood companies. In general conversation, several interesting points were made in reply to my questions:
1) the company he works for has stopped selling whale meet due to the negative international image which results. His attitude and that of most Japanese I know, shows little sympathy for whale hunting bans.
2) Japanese companies are engaged in a good deal of fish farming, including some tuna species, but it is not for sustainability reasons. It simply makes sense for price and supply reasons.
3) sustainable fishing is not something even on the radar in Japan. At present, Japanese food companies feel no pressure to protect future stocks.

I think this attitude is unfortunate, especially since the results of future collapse in fish populations will be felt more strongly here.


Family Mart using Musen Rice

I bought an onigiri at Family Mart yesterday and it had a label touting the use of "musen rice" (無洗米加工). Musen rice is produced by a relatively new process and allows for rice to be cooked directly without first washing the rice several times with water. It has become pretty popular because of convenience. It is also argued that it takes a little less overall energy. The taste is not changed though, so it is pretty confusing as to why this would be a selling point. If anything, it has a slightly less "natural" image.


Coedo Beer (Kawagoe)

We tried a new local beer (地ビール) last night - Coedo. It was on sale at the local supermarket and it was not as outrageous price of some local beers. We tried both varieties pictured here. They both had a taste closer to European beers than most major Japanese brands. Labeled "Premium All Malt Beer" and treated with low temperature pasteurization, they had the taste of live yeast.
I checked out the website and it really is gorgeous, if not informative. Looks like they spent a lot of money on it.


Kagamimochi and Kagambaraki

One food related holiday tradition in Japan is Kagamimochi (pictured left). These are set in the entrance of homes and work places from New Year's until the January 11th. Most are plastic but contain mochi (rice which has been pounded into a sticky paste). On January 11th, you open the kagamimochi, prepare it in some way (with sweetened soy beans to the right) and eat it. This is called kagamibaraki.
Literally, kagamimochi (鏡餅) means "mirror mochi" and kagamibaraki (鏡開き) means "opening of the mirror".


Karubi Bento with Okinawa Salt

This is a bento I bought the other day at Seven Eleven.
This bento had Korean style karubi pork strips, green onions and salt from Okinawa.
I didn't know Okinawa salt is special, but for some time now, convenience stores have been featuring ingredients from different regions of Japan.