Hungry Ultra Seven fans, get ready.
It may need no introduction to some but Ultra Seven was the 1967 sequel to the first Tokusatsu Ultraman TV series made by Tsuburaya Productions, continuing the adventures of the Ultramen superheroes.
The Ultra Diner Ultra Seven Hashed Beef with Rice has been made especially for Bandai by a restaurant run by Kohji Moritsugu, the Joli Chapeau in Kanagawa. Moritsugu was one of the most popular stars of the original Ultra Seven series, playing Dan Moroboshi.
The hashed beef can be ordered in a four-pack for ¥6,300 (around $67) and they come with a complimentary red Ultra Seven Task-Mask (“Ultra Eye”), if you want to transform yourself into an Ultra hero.
But if you’re hungry now, you’ll have to wait. The dish isn’t released until June.
Gundam nabe, anyone?
In these colder months locals in Japan tend to indulge in some nicely warming nabe hot pots.
Following the million-selling success of the previous Zaku Tofu, you can now get your hands on yet another molded tofu, this time in the form of the Z’GOK (Zugokku), one of the mobile suits that feature in the anime franchise Gundam, all courtesy of food-maker Sagamiya. The idea is that you then plonk this oddity in your nabe hot pot to show how your otaku hobbies define your culinary tastes.
Not just nabe, there’s nothing to stop you customizing other dishes or making toppings for just about anything really if you are desperate to turn your meal into scenes from the meccha series. If you are fast enough, you can also get your hungry hands on dessert tofus too.
And until January 11th you can even upload your own pictures of your Gundam nabe concoctions to a special Z’GOK nabe website and then prizes will be given for the most original entries. Take a look at some of the entries so far.
So, get your chef’s cap on and start cooking up that anime tofu masterpiece!
The other day we were having a bite to eat at a kaiten sushi (conveyor belt sushi) chain called Kappa Sushi.
We were impressed by their nice “express service” for specially ordered slices of raw fish.
All kaiten sushi places allow you to order something direct from the menu (rather than wait for something to come around on the belt), where the itamae chef or someone will bring you your order to you.
Things are much more hi-tech at Kappa Sushi!
They have a shinkansen bullet train deliver you the order on its own special line. (You also order the fish by touch panel screens located all around the counters.)
Kappa Sushi is the biggest kaiten sushi chain in Japan with nearly 400 branches nationwide. It also broke the 100-yen plate barrier by dropping to just 90 yen in its efforts to best the competitors.
According to this TV commercial at least, Kappa Sushi seems to have extraterrestrial patrons as well.
And for when you want to create your own version at home, we also recommend the very funky Sushi Train Restaurant Game.
Tirol are one of the funkiest of local sweets and likely one of the most “Japanese” due to their compact size and pop design wrapping.
They can usually be found temptingly in a small cardboard tray at the counter of convenience stores, ready to be plucked up between greedy fingers during your transaction as saccharine last-minute impulsive purchases.
These days they are a little pricy and a single mini block can set you back ¥20. I remember the days when it was half that!
They come in lots of flavors (from cookie to chocolate, takoyaki and more!) that change regularly but always maintain that distinctive small square shape.
I used to work for a web design agency and to celebrate for a company party, they made small mountains of customized Tirol, with the company name and logo printed on the miniature wrappings.
Well, now individuals can almost do the same thing by customizing your own Tirol with the aptly named My Tirol online order and delivery service.
You first choose ten chocolates each in three kinds from a choice of five, plus you can select what flavor center filling and bottom layer you want. Then you can choose the wrapping you prefer, each one special and not normally seen amongst the pantheon of other Tirols out there in stores. There is also a version with a blank bubble for you to enscribe a message on each sweetie (we reckon this one will be a very popular choice).
One set of 30 blocks costs you ¥2,680 ($34), which is quite a lot per square sweet (plus there are small postal fees) but what a great present this would make for someone!
It’s a shame you can’t get them to print special wrappings for you with the same service — say, for orders of over 100 blocks or something — though this is still a great way to customize your own original flavors.
If you’re feeling hungry and just want something substantial but easy to prepare, then take a look at what Japanese office workers will be using this autumn to keep themselves going on the hard daily slog at the desk.
The Smart Han (smart rice) is a kind of push-pop in which you can put all your leftover rice and other food from the night before, and then squeeze it out in this tube of rice.
If it seems a bit crude, take note that there is also a lid to keep everything fresh and even a cap for your furikake rice dressing.
Clearly it’s a re-invention of the classic Japanese lunchbox, or bento, though it doesn’t match the usual visual feast you normally get with local cuisine and is essentially a low-fi plastic design — hardly the Walkman — but it works like a treat and it’s not trying to look pretty. This is all about “smart” and unpretentious functionality.
There are two colors — blue or orange — intended for men or women diners respectively.
We also love the whole curio retro style of the packaging and the marketing behind this product. Takara Tomy does a lot of this kind of oddball innovation in which they show that they know what they have made looks a little strange at first. The presentation is always a bit of tongue-in-cheek since they are aware of the bizarro ratio — but ultimately they also just love the functionality and concept of what they have made!