Posts Tagged ‘desserts’

Autumn crop of pumpkin, purple potato and pear products

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

JT's new pear juice contains pulp with the distinctive flavour of Japanese pear

JT’s new juice contains pulp with the distinctive texture of Japanese pear

This autumn sees the shelves of convenience stores throughout Japan groaning under the weight of a bumper harvest of new flavor sensations. Here’s our round-up of this year’s crop:

Pumpkin is of course a classic autumnal flavor and true to form, this year Nestle has released a limited edition pumpkin-flavored Kit Kat for Halloween. Häagen-Dazs, too, has jumped aboard the pumpkin bandwagon by releasing pumpkin-flavored ice cream earlier this month along with a murasaki imo (purple potato) flavor. Purple potato has also popped up in Kinoko no Yama’s roster of seasonal flavors this year, along with maple and roasted chestnut.

According to Mainichi, crunchy Japanese pears (nashi), as opposed to the differently shaped and softer-textured European pears, are quite literally the flavor of the autumn months this year. Last month Japanese pear-flavored Fanta went on sale for a limited time only and beverage maker JT also brought out a pear juice with a pulpy texture that’s distinctive to the Japanese pear. In addition, Gari-Gari Kun’s pear-flavored ice pops have also proved so popular since their initial release in 2010 that this year they’re being sold in packs of seven.

As surely as the trees will soon be bare of leaves, many of the limited-edition items mentioned about will be sold out by the end of autumn, so those who don’t want to miss out on these novel nibbles and drinks ought to hurry.

Today’s J-blip: Gari Gari Kun corn soup ice pop sold out in three days

Monday, September 10th, 2012

From horsemeat-flavored ice cream to tomato-flavored chocolate, the Japanese have amazed the world with their  appetite for weird and wonderful confectionery. Frozen soup on a stick is the latest novelty product to hit the jackpot in Japan’s convenience stores. According to Rocket News, within just three days of being released on Sept. 4, stocks of Gari Gari Kun Rich Corn Soup Flavor popsicles have completely sold out, forcing the company to announce that sales will be suspended for a short while. J-Cast points out that there was a huge amount of pre-launch buzz on the web by consumers eager to find out what this new frozen treat might taste like. Twitter has been abuzz with positive reviews like, “It’s surprisingly tasty.” Not convinced? We can’t guarantee that it’s delicious, but the video above proves that at the very least, it’s inspiring some creativity.

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)

Life is sweet … for some men

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Though Japanese men get to hog the chocolates on Valentine’s Day, the rest of the year, sweets, cakes and other confectionary are traditionally the domain of the fairer sex. Or so they say. The truth is, loads of Japanese guys have a sweet tooth. As the younger generation of men discard outdated mores of masculinity, many are now unashamed to scoff down a strawberry parfait in public.

So it’s no surprise that sweet-toothed men are now getting together to discuss their love of sugary treats. On June 10, for example, men gathered in a café in Ebisu to attend the Amatou Danshi (sweet-toothed men’s) Café. The aim of this event was for men to discuss the merits of a range of sweet treats, which included Earl Grey jelly and rich chocolate confections. Organized by Amadan (甘男, the kanji literally means sweet man but is a shortening of the phrase Amatou Danshi) website, this event was the latest to bring together men with a secret passion for pastries. Every three or four months Amadan members get together to indulge their vice, bringing along their own sweets and cakes to compare and contrast with other men.

Amadan was founded in 2008 as a forum and information portal for like-minded males. According to Shibuya Keizai Shimbun, Tooru Hikino, the website’s founder, said that he wanted to create a space where could share their passion for sweets. The website includes information on new products, special features, including interviews with up-market pastry chefs and a calendar allowing members to keep abreast of confectionary-related events. Users can pass on tips and recommendations via Twitter.

So who are these amadan men? We’re guessing that many members might fall into the soshoku danshi (herbivore men) demographic of young males who reject traditional masculine values by taking a great deal of care with grooming and are not too fussed about aggressively pursuing women. A passion for cooking and sweets, fits right in with this lifestyle choice.

Confectionary companies could well start targeting this new market more aggressively; Morinaga Chocolate has already sponsored a play called Amadan about a cute bunch of boys who are fighting to keep their high school dessert club alive (see video above). There’s marketing opportunities for cafes and hotels there too: Last year Nagoya Tokyuu Hotel held an amadan gentlemen’s day where men were able to order a salad and dessert buffet on top of the standard lunch for just ¥500 extra.

Are you an amadan man? Or do you think that men ought to stick to chugging beer and devouring meat?

 

Summer’s ‘hottest’ ice treats

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Stocks of Gari Gari Kun were running dangerously low during July's heat wave

Stocks of Garigari-kun were running dangerously low during July’s heat wave

It’s official: This summer is a scorcher. According to Japan’s meteorological agency, July was 1.42 degrees hotter than the seasonal average. It was so hot in fact that Akagi, makers of Garigari-kun (Mr. Crunchy), one of Japan’s favorite summer time treats, officially apologized to the country on Aug. 3 for the recent shortage of their popular range of frozen desserts, which had apparently been flying out of the stores. When the the news of this popsicle stampede reached us, we thought it would be a good time to take a look at what’s popular and new on Japan’s frozen treat scene.

Collect cow points for prizes.

Collect cow points for prizes.

According to the Nikkei’s POS information service, the No. 1 sold aisu (popsicle or ice cream) this year is a peculiarly Japanese treat: the Azuki Bar from Imuraya. Also No. 1 last year, the Azuki Bar is said to have a pleasant texture that comes from using real azuki beans (sweet beans).

Second place is held the European Sugar Cone. Climbing up an impressive seven places from its No. 9 spot last year, the cone’s popularity reflects the fact that Japanese have an appetite for Western as well as homegrown flavors.

What both these leading products have in common is their value: the Azuki Bar and the European Sugar Cone come in packs, making them an extremely reasonable frozen treat.

My personal favorite value-for-money ice lolly is Lotte’s Hokkaido Vanilla Bar. Once you’ve eaten the lolly, you can collect the cow points displayed on the popsicle stick to claim free prizes, which include cow-pattern lunch boxes and cushions.

Haagan Dazs' salty butter biscuit was one of this year's new products

Haagan Dazs’ salty butter biscuit was one of this year’s new products

This year also saw a slew of new products hit the shelves, the most intriguing (or off-putting, depending on your perspective) of which is Moringa’s Camembert Ice Cream, which apparently has a distinctive salty taste.

Speaking of salty flavors, Häagen-Dazs also released a Salty Butter Biscuit flavor to the Japanese market this year which I can confirm is totally yummy. Another slightly weird one was Futaba’s Lemon Ice Milk, which must be employing some serious voodoo-style food science dark artistry to prevent the whole thing from curdling.

Other fruit-based products were a little more down to earth: Eskimo brought out a banana version of their Mow ice cream this year, and Glico also launched a new fruit flavor with their Yuzu Sherbet.

If you’d like to know more about Japan’s frozen treat scene, we recommend you read this article from Ping Magazin, which has a great photo gallery and interesting information on the history of Japan’s popsicle culture.

Sweetening the veggie deal

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Veggie cream puffs for Beard Papa

Veggie cream puffs at Hirota

Munching on raw vegetables in Japan might be viewed with a bit of suspicion.  A plate of salad or bag of carrot sticks in the lunch room often invites a chorus of “Usagi-chan!” (little rabbit!).

Recently, though, the marketplace has been coming up with ways to sneak veggies into your diet that are a bit less crunchy.

A wave of juice blends have punched up their vegetable content to increase their nutrition. Kagome moved puréed concentrated greens off the supplement shelves and into grocery aisles with its Minna no Aojiru juice blends. The famously bitter green stuff is mellowed out with grape, apple and mango.

Ito En is carrying a line of boxed juices, two of which promise a daily allowance’s worth of  vegetables (25 vegetables! 100% veggie juice!) in one go. Kagome’s heavily promoted Yasai Shibori comes in an elegant black box with low-lit photos and focuses on the flavors of just a few select vegetables in the “golden balance blend” of carrot, red pepper and tomato. A latte from the same line blends milk and purple sweet potato.

Asahi, in collaboration with Kagome, is trying to cover two bases with Spo-vege, a bright orange, reduced-calorie sports drink with a slight carrot flavor.

It’s not just juice – veggies are also turning up in baked goods and confectionaries.  Earlier this week, Japan Pulse spotted spinach and soy doughnuts from Soycom being showcased at Foodex Japan. Meanwhile, Hirota and Beard Papa cream puffs have teamed up to sweeten the deal even further. Their new Vegetable Choux Ice is a six-pack of ice-cream cream puffs in farm flavors including corn, spinach, soy and habanero.

Continue reading about sweet vegetables →

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