Posts Tagged ‘taberu raayu’

And the next taberu rayu will be . . .

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

Ebara Food's Gudakusan yakiniku sauce

Following on from the huge success of spicy sauce taberu rayu last year, food manufacturer’s are racing to produce the next sauce sensation. The media are also keen to get a hold of the next big thing and quite a bit of attention has been devoted to Ebara Foods’ Ougon no Aji Gudakusan Korean barbeque sauce, due to hit the shelves on Feb. 21.

Online magazine J-Cast ran a piece on the sauce with a headline speculating whether the sauce had the potential to become the next taberu rayu. Predictably, much of the copy was regurgitating the hype from Ebara’s press release, without providing any convincing reasons why the sauce might become a hit. The sauce, which contains onion, white sesame seeds and garlic, is merely a thicker version of the existing Ogun No Aji sauce already on the market, and doesn’t appear to have the unusual appeal of taberu rayu.

Yamasa's ponzu jelly sauce

Our money is on jelly ponzu (ジュレぽん酢) coming out on top. Manufacturers claim that this gloopy jelly version of the citrus sauce is highly versatile and can be used to good effect on almost any dish. While traditional ponzu sauce is used as a salad dressing or eaten with fried foods such as tempura or chicken, jelly ponzu can be spread on virtually anything you fancy. We liked the sound of tofu with a jelly topping or seared tuna steaks and ponzu jelly.

Two new ponzu jelly products are launching this month. On Feb. 15. Yamasa Shoyu released their Kombu Ponzu Jelly (昆布ぽん酢ジュレ) and on Feb. 21 House Foods are bringing out Jelly Ponzu Topping (のっけてジュレぽん酢). Yamasa Shoyu’s PR representative Hiroyuki Ooshika explained in a recent article in Tokyo Walker where the jelly trend comes from: “Recently we’ve observed that many restaurants are using condiments in the form of jellies. We wanted to create a product which you could freely use at home.”

The Tokyo Walker editorial team did a trial run of the Kombu Ponzu Topping, testing it out on convenience store food to see if it really was as versatile as the maker’s claimed. The results were positive: The sauce went great with karage but even better with the more unusual food pairing of oden.

Trends in Japan 2010: food and drink

Friday, December 31st, 2010

This year’s hottest product, quite literally, was taberu rayu, a spicy sauce that made it into the top keywords of the year and even beat smart phones to the top spot of Nikkei Trendy’s hit product list for 2010. Back in July we reported on how the chili-infused condiment, which contains minced onion and garlic, had gone from a foodie novelty to one of the Japan’s hottest new sauces in just under a year. Figuring out that it tasted delicious on burgers, big-name brands like Mos Burger picked up the trend and ran with it. The chain’s crunchy rayu burger, designed by Terry Ito, was a huge hit this summer.

Sales of All-Free were suspended in August due to high demand

Japan’s unusually hot summer was cited as part of the reason behind the taberu rayu craze (spicy food is said to be cooling in hot weather), and other brands profited from the sweltering temperatures as well. Stocks of Japan’s favorite retro ice lolly Garigari-kun were dangerously low at one point during the summer, causing makers to officially apologize to disappointed customers. Suntory also found it hard to keep up with demand for their new All-Free non alcoholic low calorie beer, and in August, according to Daily Yomiuri, were forced to temporarily suspend sales until September.

One of the more unusual food trends to break over the summer was the new Tokyo-based fad for chowing down on a big bowl of ramen noodle broth for breakfast. The idea is for busy workers to stock up on calories ahead of a grueling day, enabling them to either skip lunch or grab a small snack on the fly during the day. While the number of restaurants serving ramen has increased in recent years, the trend hasn’t quite reached epidemic proportions yet. The idea of morning mochi provided an attractive alternative to those seeking a seeking a hearty breakfast at home: Marushin’s Good Morning Breakfast Mochi, launched in April this year, proved much more popular than the company initially expected with sales figures 180 percent higher than the company’s typical mochi sales.

On the marketing end of things, dozens of companies tried to cash in the Ryoma Sakamoto boom, spurred by the popularity of the yearlong NHK taiga drama “Ryomanden.” Be it associated with burgers, soft drinks, ramen chips, curry, or beer — the face of the legendary samurai was everywhere.

Dining out continued to get cheaper during 2010 as izakaya scrambled to outdo each other with cut-price deals. The biggest gimmick of 2010 was offering free drinks of shochu to get customers through the doors. Another gimmick, which isn’t so new but was in full effect during 2010, was the use of cute young girls to entice male custom. We’re not only talking about Hooters’ arrival in Japan, which opened its doors for the first time this year in Japan but other establishments such as Katsuyama Dojo Style Pub and Nadeshico Sushi, which also entered the restaurant market: Both establishments hired bevies of cute girls to serve food to, mostly likely, an exclusively male clientele.

Another heaping tablespoon of taberu rayu, please

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Rayu is a spicy red oil that is never far at hand at ramen shops or anywhere that the fried or steamed dumplings called gyoza are served.

"Slightly spicy but delicious when you eat it" rayu in Sugamo

“Slightly spicy but delicious when you eat it” rayu in Sugamo

In the last year or so, though, the condiment (sometimes seen written as la-yu) has taken center stage in a chunkier, more flavorful incarnation that has gone from foodie indulgence to the fast-food mainstream. Taberu, or edible, rayu has the same chili-infused sesame oil base as the pourable stuff, but it’s packed with minced chunks of fried garlic and onion that give it a chunky, spoonable consistency.  Momoya released jars of it one year ago with a mouthful of a name that translates to “It looks spicy but isn’t too spicy but is a bit spicy” last year. When it sold out, S&B Foods released a not-so-subtle copycat version called “Pour it on! Main dish rayu, a bit spicy.” Now it’s gone well beyond grocery store shelves and is turning up as a potato chip flavor, a tonkatsu topping, and most recently, glopped on the patties at Japan’s homegrown burger joint Mos Burger.

The Mos Burger concoction, which had people lining up outside an Akihabara location on its first day, is a “collaboration” with morning TV show “Sukkiri!” star Terry Itou.  The full name of the burger is “Terry Itou’s crunchy rayu burger.” Mos sold some 2.1 million of them, twice as many as anticipated in the original sale period of July 10 to 28. For those who missed out the first time around, they’re going to serve up another million of the spicy burgers at ¥390 for a regular burger and ¥420 for one with cheese. (The cheese, incidentally was recommended in one review to cut the spice for people who found it too hot.)

Oricon Gourmet says the hot weather has boosted sales and inspired all kinds of restaurants to put the rayu on all kinds of foods, as spicy foods are thought to be especially good on hot days. At First Kitchen, Lettuce Bacon Taberu Rayu Pasta hit the menu in mid-July. Red-tinged potato chips from both Calbee and Yamazaki Nabisco are in convenience stores. Family restaurant chain Gusto and noodle shop Bamiyan each have a cold noodle dish with it.

And at least one intrepid blogger made some at home, provided the recipe, and then took it to the only next logical step – rayu over vanilla ice cream. Can a commercial version be far behind? Let us know if you find taberu rayu any place unexpected.

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