Just in Time for Valentine’s Day: Chocolate Ramen

Once again offering conclusive proof that Asia gets all the cool and interesting food items, Japanese ramen chain Mensho will start serving chocolate ramen starting in February in time for Valentine’s season.

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The ramen itself is not made out of chocolate, but the dish features floating chunks of chocolate in the Toyama-style black soy broth.

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The Culinary Hotspot that is Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon)

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I love Vietnam, especially Ho Chi Minh City, which I still call Saigon (and everyone else as well). It’s a bustling, vibrant city with major investment happening and a booming middle class, which means more buying power and market demands for brands and big box corporations. McDonalds has finally entered the market, as well as countless franchises from the US, Japan and South Korea permeating the urban landscape as quickly as the glass and steel towers that are making the city horizon more jagged.

Mochi: The Silent but Delicious Killer

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Who knew something so yummy could be so deadly? Take a good look at the face of a killer:

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Mochi is a glutinous rice cake that is traditionally eaten in Japan around the holidays especially to ring in the new year. It’s soft and sweet and yummy and, apparently, also dangerous.

Nine people in Japan died from eating mochi this holiday season by choking on the chewy cakes with 13 more hospitalized in serious condition. This is a sharp increase in fatalities from years past—last year, four mochi-related deaths were recorded and only two in 2013.

If You Think You Overpay for Sushi, How About $117,000 for One Tuna?

At the last New Year auction at Tsukiji, the famous Tokyo fish market, Japanese restaurant chain Sushi Zanmai paid $117,000 for a 441-pound bluefin tuna, which comes out to $265 per pound.

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And why would anyone pay so much for one fish? Let the restaurant’s owner Kiyoshi Kimura explain: “It was a little more expensive than expected, but it’s the highest quality for its shape, color and fat. I want our customers to be happy. It was the last auction at Tsukiji so there were many people there, and I feel everyone in the auction was deeply moved.”

Still, that isn’t even the highest price one fish has fetched at the auction. In 2013, Kimura paid $1.8 million for a 490-pound tuna.

2016 is Going to Start Badly if You’re into Eating Shit-Flavored Food

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Earlier this year, I brought you the news of a Japanese restaurant named Curry Shop Shimuzu, which opened its doors this past summer and soon gained popularity for…serving curry that literally tastes like crap. At the time, I wondered why people would want to pay to eat something that intentionally tastes like shit and dismissed it as…well, Japan.

But now it seems like the foul stench of reality has finally settled in and owner/porn star Ken Shimuzu has announced his restaurant will be closing on January 4. I’m assuming either folks came to their senses and realized that “holy fuck, why am I paying for food that literally tastes like shit” and/or Shimuzu realized the Japanese porn industry, with its severe shortage of qualified male performers, needed him more than he needed to make and serve shit-flavored curry.

Chinese for Christmas

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Chinese restaurants get a boost on Christmas because they don’t close on the holiday. It’s a fact depicted by Bob Clark’s 1982 classic A Christmas Story where the narrator says, “That Christmas would live in our memories as the Christmas when we were introduced to Chinese turkey.”

So how can you not have some Chinese food for Christmas? Especially for a nostalgic Chinese American like me.

The Latest Japanese Food Trend: Mini-Meals

One of the latest Japanese trends in food is apparently “miniature food” or “kawaii (Japanese for “cute” food).

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As the name suggests, it’s the cooking of mini-meals using tiny utensils with the food often served to dolls and action figures as in this video for a mini steak and asparagus meal:

Or this little red velvet Valentine’s cake, baked in a teeny tiny oven:

Around The Horn: Family style eats

Chun restaurant courtesy of Jinlovestoeat.com

Chun restaurant courtesy of Jinlovestoeat.com

In Shanghai -Huangpu area/French concession there’s Chun – a tiny hole in the wall on Jianxian lu that fits about four small tables and a kitchen.  Despite its modest decor, it’s not street food cheap – about 250-320 RMB for two people.  But it is always packed and has already been much written up about via local blogs, the Wall Street Journal and Anthony Bourdain’s ‘No Reservations’.  But despite the notoriety, it is still a no-fuss place for well to do office workers or civil servants who live on their own and crave a home style meal that satisfies without threatening the digestive system.

Ms. Qu of Chun courtesy of WSJ.

Ms. Qu of Chun courtesy of WSJ.

The Big Mac Sushi is Here!

Thanksgiving may be over and you may be thinking to yourself, “damn, I was especially gluttonous this year so I should start making healthy eating choices immediately.” Well, screw that because this is now a reality:

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It’s a Big Mac sushi roll created by Miami-based sushi chef Hiroyuki Terada.

Terada makes this magical dish by first cutting the buns in half and pressing them together to form a thin sheet of bread, which will act as the traditional seaweed would: