Posts Tagged ‘breakfast’

Next stop: French toast?

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

So what is it with Japanese and “konamono sweets” (sweets made out of flour)?  Be it crepes, doughnuts, waffles or honey toast, they seem to move up and down the trend chart on a fairly regular basis.

French Toast

Prosciutto and pickles top this French toast at Yocco’s in Nakano.

Over the past few years, upmarket and imported pancakes have been a booming food trend in Japan. Some of the more famous outlets, such as the chic Australian chain bills or the more down-to-earth Hawaiian Eggs ’n Things, are still attracting long lines of pancake lovers. Perhaps the best illustration of pancake mania came this past May in the form of a mobile app called Minna no Pankeiki-bu (Everybody’s Pancake Club), which allowed users to locate the closest flapjack cafe.

While the usual syrup-and-butter variety is still a mainstay, variations far off that theme are emerging. Anyone up for pancakes covered in hiyashi chūka (cold Chinese noodles) or shirasu (baby fish and radish)? Anyone at all?

Keep in mind, there is a precedent here for this flour power: okonomiyaki, the savory pancake-like dish made popular in Kansai, has its origins in  an Edo Period item called sukesoyaki, which consisted on a pancakes and a sweet bean (anko) paste.

While it’s hard to say whether the days of the pancake renaissance are numbered, we couldn’t help but notice the rising popularity of another Western breakfast favorite: French toast.

The new trend is all about shokuji French toast —  it’s a meal, not a dessert.  While French toast isn’t new to Japan, “Haru and Haru” called itself  Tokyo’s first french toast cafe when it opened in May last year. Not long after that came Sarabeth’s, a breakfast restaurant from New York,  famous for “fat and fluffy” French toast.” A 30-minute wait to get in isn’t uncommon.

Lobros relaunched its cafes this past March as Yocco’s French Toast Café, with locations in Jiyugaoka, Kichijoiji and Nakano. Yocco’s serves both a sweet and savory versions, with emphasis on the latter. If you’re adventuresome, you might want to try with a tall glass of cauliflower juice.

In Tokyo’s Yurakucho, the Cafe Chou Chou serves daily non-sweet “pain perdu” (French toast in French). If you’re looking for savory French toast for less than ¥1,000, try Pain Petit Pas in Harajuku. For lunch it serves French toast topped with cured bacon and smoked salmon.

Will shokuji French toast rise the heights of the pancakes and crepes? It’s hard to say. We’ll keep our eye out for an app called Minna no furenchi-tosuto-bu . .  .  hope no one decides to combine them with hiyashi chūka?

Anyone for French toast … cooked with mayo?

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

French toast topped with strawberries

French toast topped with strawberries, served at Cafe Fredy Ginza.

Gooey and golden brown, French toast is a versatile food that can be eaten for breakfast with a dollop of syrup or for lunch with a glob of ketchup. Now trending in Japan, according to an online article in Peachy, French toast is an increasingly popular menu item. But, of course, the Japanese have their own inimitable take on the traditional recipe: From over-the-top toppings to unusual secret ingredients, it’s being altered in a variety of creative ways to suit the demanding palates of modern Japanese.

To sample the cutting edge of this new cuisine trend, head to Harajuku. Pain Petit Pas opened last year in a space that resembles the insanely popular crepe stalls that can be found all around the teen-shopping mecca. A tiny establishment that offers up a Disneyfied version of French chic, breakfast is the traditional syrup-covered French toast, but it gets really creative at lunch time with toppings of salmon and cream cheese, bacon, or sour cream. The secret of their delicious toast is marinating the bread for one whole day in the egg and milk mix. No doubt they took their cue from Hotel Okura’s recipe, rated the best French toast in Tokyo by B! Hatena News.

The dipping mix is also being altered by Japanese chefs cooking at home. In 2009, a recipe for mayo French toast appeared on Cookpad. The recipe swaps out eggs in favour of mayo, advising chefs to mix it in as much as possible with the milk before letting the bread marinate in the mix. The resulting meal has been rated as surprisingly tasty by many visitors to the site. “I’ve made this tons of times for breakfast. The children also eat lots of it,” writes user Rindeorinsu. While the idea of hot mayo may not be too appealing to Westerners, it’s worth noting that mayo is a popular pizza topping in Japan.

Another new take on French toast is being served up at the Fujiko F Fujiko Museum in Kawasaki. The museum, which opened for business in September last year, is dedicated to the creator of the popular comic book Doraemon and contains a ton of Doraemon-themed attractions. One, according to Biglobe News, is the Ankipan French Toast served in the museum’s cafe. In the cartoon, the bespectacled hero Nobuta eats some magical anikipan (“memorizing bread”) instead of studying for his exams. Served with ice cream and chocolate sauce, the ankipan in the cafe has equations seared onto its surface, just like the magical treat in the cartoon.

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, possibly the most outrageous French toast dessert is served up at Loncafe in Enoshima. Toppings on offer include ice cream, apple pie, caramel banana and mango. For birthdays, they’ll even stick a few sparklers into these over-the-top desserts.

Photo credit: dreamcat115 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Morning mochi makes waves

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Mochi cakes, image courtesy of Kropsoq at Wikicommons

Top of the mochi to you

Breakfast used to mean one of two things in Japan: either the traditional time-consuming but stomach-filling option of rice, side dishes and miso soup, or the quicker option of couple of slices of toast and jam wolfed down before dashing out the door. This summer, a product that is as quick to prepare as toast but as filling as rice has proven to be a big hit. Since the product went on sale in April, sales of Marushin’s Good Morning Breakfast Mochi have risen so much that they’re now up 180 percent up from the company’s typical annual mochi sales.

Mochi, a sticky cake made from pounded rice, is a traditionally a New Year’s treat, but the dish has now found a new lease of life as a breakfast food. The idea is that rice is easy to digest, and mochi is a great source of energy and easy to prepare: All you need to do is to zap it quickly in the microwave before tucking in. The Good Morning Breakfast Mochi is 20 percent thinner than normal mochi cakes so that it’ll take less time to cool down – like tofu, the dense foodstuff retains heat much longer than a slice of toast.

The mochi boom follows on from other breakfast fads that have recently swept the nation. Last year saw the nation embracing the curry breakfast (as recommended by baseball superstar Ichiro) and this year we reported on the trend of office workers who chose to slurp down bowls of ramen for brekkie. Rather than simply eating the cake plain, Marushin’s website encourages customers to experiment with quick and easy, if deeply weird, recipes such as mochi pizza or mochi with chilli topping.

According to Nikkei Trendy, the easy-to-prepare product was launched with young singletons in mind but become a a hit with kids, perhaps because the squishy and Play Doh-like consistency of the mochi. The company has decided to see if they can cash in further on the boom by launching a new mochi snack aimed at students studying hard into the night. Bearing in mind the fact that every year a number of people choke to death on New Year’s mochi cakes, we’re wondering whether parents will be as keen to allow their kids to chow down unsupervised on mochi at night.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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