Karen David stars as Princess Isabella in the ABC musical comedy series ‘Galavant’ 

Audrey Magazine:

Karen David has come a long way since her childhood days of being awkward and bullied. You’d never know it now, but her golden complexion was once blanketed with acne. She excelled in school, but her demeanor was reticent. And her ethnic ambiguity invited peer derision. It may well be that these growing pains of youth served as her motivating fuel, and now it is her work ethic, beauty and, yes, even her ethnic “versatility” that may be her most valued assets.

Born in India and raised in Canada, David had already determined at an early age that she wanted to act and sing. She earned a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and then later continued her studies at the Guildford School of Acting in London. Her first acting role was on a London West End stage, as part of the original cast of Mamma Mia! Being a part of that led to her working with iconic Bollywood composer A.R. Rahman on another musical, Bombay Dreams. While performing in the theater, David also had been singing in a studio. She signed a record deal with BMG Europe, and her single “It’s Me (You’re Talking To)” became a hit in several European countries.

Despite these musical successes, it was her presence on British television that garnered the most eyes and accolades. In 2010, she joined the cast of the BBC drama Waterloo Road, in which she played a sexy teacher who falls in love with a student. This storyline generated plenty of controversy, as well as an ever-increasing fandom for the actress. Guest appearances on American series such as Touch and Castle soon followed.

Now American audiences can witness David’s complete set of talents, as she gets to combine her dream of singing and acting for the new ABC miniseries Galavant. Created by filmmaker Dan Fogelman (whose credits include Crazy, Stupid, Love and Tangled), who teamed up with musical legend Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast), Galavant is a medieval musical comedy. But don’t let that faze you, says David. “What makes Galavant so special is that there is something in it for everyone. It appeals to the big kid in all of us and will give you a good laugh. Watch out! By the end of each episode, the songs will be stuck in your head!”

Audrey spoke with David about her new role and her journey to get there.

Karen david


Audrey Magazine: Galavant is being heralded as Monty Python meets Princess Bride. Can you tell me about how you got the role, a little about your character, Princess Isabella, and how you did your homework?

Karen David: That’s funny that you mention homework. I have a mish-mosh in my heritage. I have Chinese, Indian and a sliver of Jewish. With the Asian influences, there is an immigrant mentality that you have to work triple hard. My parents said that even if I wasn’t going to be an accountant or lawyer, I had to put in the homework. It’s all about being the best that you can be and always working at your craft.

I loved Galavant when my agents sent me the script. Then my heart stopped when I read the bit where [Princess Isabella] is described as Jennifer Lawrence. So I went into this casting process feeling like the underdog and just having fun with it.

But after I went to meet Dan [Fogelman] for the second meeting, Dan turned to everyone and said, “That’s my Isabella. That’s my brown Jennifer Lawrence.”

 

AM: Tell me a little about Princess Isabella. How does she match your personality? She was obviously scripted to look different.

KD: She is the people’s princess with a big heart. There is nothing she wouldn’t do for her family and her kingdom. There is something so human about her and approachable, which I find refreshing.

I was born near the Himalayas, in a matriarchal society where the women are mighty. I was brought up with this kind of strength, and I wanted to celebrate that with Isabella.

 

AM: You have dedicated years honing your craft in anticipation of a big break. It can be an intimidating and unforgiving business. What kept you persevering?

KD: I’m really blessed to have parents who weren’t traditional in the sense of what their children should be. My mom says that I always wanted to sing and dance, and I listened to whatever my [older] sister was listening to. When I was 6, my sister was watching Xanadu. I remember that moment so clearly — and it’s what I hold on to when I get faced with rejection. I was so taken with everything Olivia Newton-John. I went to my parents and told them I wanted to do that — to sing and to act.

My parents have always been a huge source of inspiration — guiding me with wisdom and humility. They immigrated [to Canada] with two daughters and $20. They took the leap of faith, and that has been a source of inspiration for me. They taught me to be quietly ambitious — meaning, don’t talk about it. Just let the actions speak.

Also, I was very studious and steadfast with my studies. I had to have straight A’s. If I excelled in my studies, then [my parents] would pay for my acting and music lessons.

I dealt with rejections early on, since I was doing auditions as a kid. But you end up building thick skin. At the end of the day, this is what I love, and I can’t give it up.

 

AM: You are inundated with filming, traveling and press junkets. What do you do outside of that?

KD: Kundalini yoga, pilates and meditation. It clears the mind and gives me spiritual strength. And I love traveling. Also, my husband and I love to cook. It’s all about experiencing life with your family and friends, creating memories and life experiences. These are the things that count the most. It’s stuff like that that makes you a better actor.

 

Galavant premieres January 4, 2015, on ABC.

 

Story by Elaine Sir
Photo by Ilza Kitshoff

This story was originally published in Audrey Magazine’s Winter 2014-15 issue. Get your copy here. 

It was a great year for Asian-American women on television

 

Mic.com

We’re finally getting past all those geisha and ninja stereotypes.

Asian-American women, and women in general, have long faced the woes of horrible storylines or just plain missing from shows. This messy writing or lack of diversity on the small screen stems from the absence of minorities and women in the writers’ room.

But in 2014, we’ve seen some inspiring portrayals of Asian-American women on television that have brought dimension to ladies who are often turned into flat tropes. We still need more of these types of characters, but thankfully we’re inching toward better representation.

Headliners: 

Lucy Liu proves that Asian-American women can be leading ladies without being a stereotype. Liu is one of the most recognizable Asian-American actresses in Hollywood, known for her roles on Charlie’s Angels and Kill Bill: Vol. 1, two movies that tokenized her race. But Liu currently co-stars as Dr. Joan Watson in Elementary, a modern take on Sherlock Holmes, alongside Jonny Lee Miller.

Watson is incredibly intelligent and capable, but not without flaws. She was once a surgeon, but accidentally killed a patient. Unable to trust herself, she let her medical license expire, and eventually becomes Holmes’ detective apprentice. She’s sexy, she’s smart, she makes mistakes — in short, she’s a human being.

She has her demons, but she doesn’t let anyone make her decisions for her. She’s an interesting main character who just so happens to be Asian.

More than just casting:

Television is also making progress with writing storylines centering around Asian culture. MTV’s Teen Wolf, a teenage-supernatural drama with a dark side, may be the best example. This year, the series introduced Kira Yukimura and her family.

Portrayed by Arden Cho, Kira shows that there are many ways to be Asian — in her case, Korean-Japanese. She’s also a kitsune, a mythical fox spirit with the ability to absorb electricity, plus some deadly skills with a katana.

Furthermore, Kira’s powers and one main storyline of Teen Wolf‘s third season are deeply rooted in the Japanese internment camps of the 1940s, a smear on America’s history that’s often overlooked. The mistreatment of Japanese people during World War II is a part of many Asian-Americans’ identity and experience in the United States. Integrating this part of the past into the show is an effort to bring underrepresented history to wider audiences.

Funny and flirty:

Asian-American women can be sexual and go on tons of dates. The Mindy Project features Mindy Kaling as Dr. Mindy Lahiri, a spunky OB-GYN who makes her way through a cavalcade of flings before settling down with fellow doctor Danny Castellano in the show’s latest season. While Kaling is Indian-American and might not have the same experiences as a Korean-American, she still falls under the Asian-American umbrella.

The Fox comedy is filled with sex and intimacy, showing that Asian-American women can be vocal when it comes to the bedroom. Mindy knows what she wants, when she wants it and if she doesn’t want it (as in the episode about anal sex).

The Mindy Project also flips the script on the typical dating storyline. Usually it’s a white protagonist who goes on dates with a pretty homogeneously white lineup, until bam, there’s one diverse hottie who “makes up” for being the only one (ahem, Girls). In Kaling’s show, we see her dating a crop of primarily white dudes, showing that she’s as much in control of her dating destiny as anyone else.

Room to grow: 

The one-dimensional Asian-American character on television shows still exists — take a look at Awkward‘s Ming (Jessica Lu) or Scorpion‘s Happy Quinn (Jadyn Wong). Visibility is essential, but stereotyped writing can be dangerous. Fortunately, the Dr. Joan Watsons and Kira Yukimuras are making important progress toward more diverse actors getting multifaceted characters to play.

Other disenfranchised communities are also making their way to the small screen. For these minorities, including Asian-American women, increased visibility might seem slow. But while more, and more accurate, depictions should be a given, we can celebrate what we do have — and continue to fight for diverse inclusion in the shows we love.

For NYPD Officer Liu’s funeral, blending police traditions with Chinese customs

Volunteers gathered donations for the family of Officer Wenjian Liu in Chinatown on Sunday. He is believed to be the first Chinese-American police officer killed in the line of duty in New York. 

New York Times:

The funeral on Sunday for Wenjian Liu, who is believed to be the first Chinese-American police officer killed in the line of duty in New York, will have all the trappings that the city’s traditions demand. Thousands of officers in pressed navy blue. A Police Department flag covering the coffin. A eulogy from the mayor.

But the ceremony will also include a tradition unfamiliar to the Police Department. While the services last weekend for Officer Rafael Ramos, who died alongside Officer Liu in an ambush in Brooklyn on Dec. 20, were held at a church, Officer Liu will be honored at a funeral home with Buddhist monks praying. Mourners will burn ceremonial paper money and objects in front of his photograph — riches, according to Chinese custom, for the afterlife.

The fact that Officer Liu’s burial will include both sets of customs is proof of how diverse the city’s police ranks have become since the not-too-distant days when uniformed funerals were reliably Roman Catholic affairs. Yet it is a sign, too, of how wide the gap still is between one of the city’s oldest institutions and one of its fastest-growing immigrant communities.

Officer Wenjian Liu

It really shows that Asians are more integrated or assimilated into the mainstream,” said Hugh Mo, a former deputy police commissioner. “One of their sons is also sacrificed, is also spilling blood.”

Officer Liu, 32, will be commemorated at Aievoli Funeral Home in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, a former Italian stronghold that has given more and more ground in recent years to Chinese immigrants.

A police ceremony with a police chaplain and eulogies will follow a Chinese ceremony led by Buddhist monks. Afterward, a procession will carry Officer Liu to Cypress Hills Cemetery, at a site chosen with the help of a feng shui expert.

Besides Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William J. Bratton, an official list of who will speak at the funeral has not been announced.

The Chinese ceremony will be “very quiet and private,” said Joseph Aievoli, the funeral home’s owner, making it unlikely that officers and dignitaries will attend that service. Several family friends have said they plan to attend only the wake on Saturday, intimidated by what is sure to be a large showing by the Police Department on Sunday.

Lt. Tony Giorgio, commanding officer of the Police Department’s Ceremonial Unit, has been shepherding the police service. He said his department meets with the fallen officer’s family and asks “what do they traditionally do, and then fit our protocols and traditions around what they do.”

The blending will be complex. Some in Brooklyn’s Chinatown, which has expanded from Sunset Park to nearby Borough Park and Bensonhurst, are wary of authority figures like the police, in part because of some Chinese immigrants’ murky legal statuses.

Cultural and language barriers have bred such deep insularity that many in the Liu family’s circle seemed in recent days to be only dimly aware of the city’s policing controversy.

The family members, some of whom do not speak English, have turned to Chinese police officers who have been assigned to support them, acting as linguistic and cultural translators. A community affairs officer who speaks Cantonese and a lieutenant in the department’s employee relations section who speaks Taishanese, the family’s native dialect, have been constant presences.

They’re really private, so it’s a lot for them to take in,” said Sgt. James Ng, the president of the Asian Jade Society, an association of Asian New York police officers. “It’s literally overwhelming. It’s going to be thousands of people coming to the wake and the funeral. It’s very hard to put them through this.”

Police officers guard their home. The news media has hovered. Dignitaries including Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the mayor, the police commissioner and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo have stopped in. Friends who have spoken with the family say Officer Liu’s parents are moved, but dazed, by the attention and the high-profile visits.

The family’s only public comment came from Officer Liu’s widow, Pei Xia Chen, who married Officer Liu in September. She gave a tearful statement two days after the shooting.

One complication of the funeral planning has been picking an auspicious day under Chinese tradition. Another involves accommodating the many people who did not know Officer Liu but want to attend, prompting the Police Department to set up community viewing areas. Also, the service had to be delayed until relatives from China could obtain travel documents to the United States and fly to New York.

Little in the rituals of a police funeral will be familiar to Officer Liu’s relatives. At a traditional Chinese funeral, mourners wail and sob throughout. Some fall prostrate on the ground. Many attendees pay their respects and leave, rather than staying for the full service. Eulogies are not usually given.

The Catholic funeral is a celebration,” Mr. Mo said. “The person is going to a better place, the person is going to be seeing St. Peter. A Chinese funeral is not a celebration, it is a mourning.”

While Officer Ramos’s wife appeared “courageous and dignified in the face of such great loss,” containing her emotions during her husband’s funeral on Saturday, Mr. Mo said, “if you look at a typical Chinese funeral, that is not the way to behave. Should we bend the tradition in order to make it more palatable for Westerners? Those are all issues.”

Officer Liu was not the first Asian-American police officer to die in the line of duty; Officer Kevin Lee of the Bronx died of a heart attack while pursuing a suspect in 2006, and Detective Richard J. Guerzon, who was of Filipino descent, was shot with his partner while driving a prisoner to Rikers Island in 1989.

But Officer Liu’s is the first funeral that Lieutenant Giorgio can recall that will incorporate Chinese traditions.

We have to understand these customs and norms,” he said. “We can’t just say, ‘I’m Roman Catholic; this is the only way I know how to do this.’ ”

Ring in the new year with a real robot suit, on sale at Keisei Department store

RocketNews 24:

The New Year season is often a peak shopping time in Japan, and as such stores pull out the big guns in what are known as fukubukuro (lucky bags). These are bags full of the merchandise a particular shop peddles. Sometimes it’s random which means you could end up with a laptop for fifty bucks, other times the contents are known but you can still get a decent deal on a bulk purchase. And sometimes, in the name of publicity, shops will throw in some unusual item or offer remarkably great deals to celebrate the new year.

It appears the winner for 2015 will be Keisei Department Store who are offering what must be a very large fukubukuro containing a two-meter-tall functional robot suit!

The robot up for grabs is a Kids Walker Cyclops model by Sakakibara Kikai.

As you can see in the following video, it’s seriously cool:

Measuring 2.07 x 1.7 x 1.3 meters (6.79 x 5.6 x 4.3ft) and weighing in at 360kg (794lbs), the Cyclops seats one and runs at two speeds. Sadly, rather than plodding along like you might expect, the Cyclops just scoots around on wheels. I’m not to crazy about the lime-green color scheme either but I guess once you take it home you can airbrush all the dragon-riding Valkyries on it you want.

That is, if you have enough cash left for the paint job after shelling out a whopping 5,555,555 yen (US$46,616) for the robot. I suppose you could try applying for a loan from the bank, but in this economic climate I’m not sure how receptive they’ll be when you tell the you want to buy a giant robot suit.

If money is a problem or if you’re one of those crazy people who doesn’t want to walk around town in a huge robot, Keisei Department Store is offering a wide selection offukubukuro this year such as gold coins, noodles, bungee jumping experiences, and a mysterious lucky bag offering a marriage proposal to a loved one, which is valued between 1,000 and 1,000,000 yen ($8.40 – $8,400).

Or, if you are ready to take the plunge into a pair of robot pants, just head down to Mito Keisei at the address listed below and purchase a claim ticket for the fukubukuro of your choice during store hours before 2 January. If you can nab one before they sell out then you can pick up your suit on the second, and if bags aren’t bought up they’ll still be available until 4 January. I’m not sure if they’ll let you walk out wearing it or not, though.

Mito Keisei Department Store
1-6-1 Izumi, Mito, Ibaraki

Dirty Car Art is the perfect excuse not to wash your car ever again

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RocketNews 24:

Have you ever doodled in the dirt on your car before you finally got around to washing it? Or perhaps when you were younger you wrote something rude in the dust on the neighbour’s rear window? American artist Scott Wade took his doodling many steps further and now creates this stunning Dirty Car Art that you’d never want to wash off.

Born and raised in the US, Scott is an artist and musician who has spent his life nurturing his creativity. He discovered Dirty Car Art as he was living on a long dirt road in Texas where his cars were always covered in dust and grime. His natural instinct was always to doodle in the dust, and this led to him experimenting with various techniques, and eventually evolved into the art we see from him today which he’s been working on since 2003. It’s reminiscent of the chalk art that’s popular in Japan right now with the use of subtle shading to create almost photographic realism.

Of course when turning up to work at a fancy motor event it’s unlikely that any of the cars there will be waiting for him covered in dirt. While he prefers to work on ‘natural’ canvases, in other words cars that have got really dirty from driving for miles along dry dirt roads, he has also developed a technique for creating an ‘artificial’ canvas. The simple process involves spreading a thin, even layer of oil over the window then using a hair dryer to blow handfuls of fine dirt or other powder across the whole thing, which sounds easy enough for anyone to do. The hard part is the bit where you actually have to be able to draw.

▼Here is a recreation of the iconic woodblock print The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai from his Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji series that Scott created for Japanese television.

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In response to the question of whether it makes him said that his work is washed away when it rains, he answered with a very Japanese outlook, saying: “The impermanence of this art form is one of the things I really love about it. For one thing, it helps me to not take it too seriously and to really have fun with it. But most important, it reminds me that all of life is transient, that we won’t be here all that long, and to really enjoy the wonder and beauty while we’re here.”

▼Another piece done for a Japanese TV show, this time featuring a heron.

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▼He was commissioned to draw this fantastic dragon for a Nokia commercial.

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And it’s not just oriental styles – Scott creates a wide range of scenes from his own original work to incredible recreations of familiar and famous pieces. Check them out below.

▼A recreation of English romantic painter John Constable’s The Hay Wain.

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▼M.C. Escher’s impossible architecture.

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▼A beautiful wildflower meadow created for a South Korean TV show.

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▼He drew a car on his car! Xzibit would be proud.

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▼The Boy Who Lived.

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▼Awww! Polar bears!

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▼One of C.M. Coolidge’s famous paintings of dogs playing poker.

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▼And last but not least, something seasonal.

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You can see more from Scott over at his official website. And next time you think your car really could do with a clean, why not have a little doodle on it beforehand? If it goes terribly then you can wash away all the evidence!

Study shows that South Koreans consume more coffee than white rice

kfood consumption

 Audrey Magazine:

South Koreans now drink more coffee than they eat their staple food rice, according to a survey conducted by the Korea Centers for Disease Control of 3,805 adults, according to The Chosun Ilbo.

According to the 2013 survey, the average Korean drinks coffee 12.3 times per week, followed by eating kimchi 11.8 times, multigrain rice 9.5 times, and white rice seven times per week.

The proportion of rice in Koreans’ daily diet has steadily declined over the past decade whereas coffee-related calorie intake has quadrupled due to the amount of artificial sweeteners in coffee, reported The Korea Herald.

Over the past few years, coffee culture has been going strong in South Korea. Earlier this year, Seoul was named as the city with the most Starbucks locations, beating New York City and Los Angeles. In addition, it was reported last month that Starbucks in Korea costs twice as much as it does in the U.S.

A mother’s creative bento boxes teach Japan’s geography

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 Audrey Magazine:

We’ve seen everything from adorable Hello Kitty bento boxes to intricate panda bento boxes. And just when we thought we’ve seen it all, another creative food artist comes along and impresses us even more.

Bentos are home-packed meals common in Japanese cuisine. Traditionally, these boxes hold rice, fish or meat, and pickled or cooked vegetables. More recently, “kyaraben” (which translates to “character bento”) has picked up in popularity. Kyaraben are elaborately decorated bento boxes inspired by characters from anime, comics books, video games, animals, shows, etc. It is not uncommon to come across Japanese children comparing bento boxes at lunchtime to see who has the most impressive looking meal.

But one mother, who goes by the Twitter handle Sasariri, decided that she wanted her bento boxes to not only be cute but help educate her child as well. To do this, she very skillfully incorporated Japan’s prefectures as the theme for each bento box.

For each bento box, she used food items such as seaweed, egg and rice to accurately show the shape of one of Japan’s 47 prefectures, including Hokkaido, Kyoto and Tokyo. She even added the name of of each prefecture written in the roman alphabet to help her child learn even more.

Creative, yummy, cute and educational? Yes, please.

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CHECK OUT MORE OF HER CREATIONS HERE.

 

Why Asians need to care about breast cancer

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 Audrey Magazine:

We decided to look into how Asian Americans handle breast cancer. We were shocked by what we discovered.

For years now, Asians have been comforted by the fact that we have the lowest rate of breast cancer in the United States. Unfortunately, this assurance may be the very thing that hinders us from taking the necessary precautions.

Studies from both the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) have confirmed that Asian/Pacific Islanders have the lowest breast cancer rates.

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Although this is true, a number of things are not taken into consideration:

There are various types of Asians.
It is not a good idea to assume you’re safe from breast cancer simply because you’re Asian. In fact, the statistics greatly differ once we take a step closer. According to womenshealth.gov, Japanese American women have the highest rate of breast cancer among Asian Americans. Furthermore, breast cancer is the leading cause of death for Filipino women. Clearly, there are technicalities within the broad term “Asian” which should be paid attention to.

Our numbers are increasing.
Sure, we have the lowest rate of breast cancer and breast cancer deaths now, but that may be changing. Our rates are increasing faster than any other ethnic group. From 1988-2005, we’ve increased approximately 1.2% every year.

Some of us are not as safe as our parents and grandparents. 
According to sampan.org, “Immigrant Asian women who have been living in the United States for 10 years have an 80 percent higher risk of developing breast cancer than their newly arrived A&PI immigrant counterparts.”

We develop breast cancer at a younger age.
Compared to the other ethnic groups, we develop cancer at an earlier age, but we don’t know to address it earlier. In fact, many of us don’t address it at all.

Asian Americans are the least likely to ever get a mammogram.
Although Asian Americans need to take just as much precaution, we have the lowest rate of screenings. Is it because it’s taboo in our culture to discuss this issue? Is it because of the misconception that we’re relatively safe from breast cancer? Either way, there is clearly a lack of breast health/breast cancer education, screening and treatment among Asian American women.

Studies confirm that only 62% of Asian American women 40 and older have had a mammogram in the past two years. This is still the lowest percentage compared to every other ethnic community in America.

Some barriers to breast cancer screening include:
-Low income
-Lack of access to care (such as lack of a local (or easy to get to) mammography center or -Lack of transportation to a mammography center)
-Lack of a usual health care provider
-Lack of a recommendation from a provider to get mammography screening
-Lack of awareness of breast cancer risks and screening methods
-Cultural and language differences

– See more at: http://audreymagazine.com/why-asians-need-to-care-about-breast-cancer-updated/#sthash.hlerj6hS.dpuf

This month’s slightly bizarre Japanese Twitter trend is showing off overly full Subway sandwiches

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RocketNews 24:

Subway may be as popular in Japan as it is in the US–which isn’t really surprising, since the company advertises itself as a healthy meal option. We’re not sure how healthy the sandwiches actually are, but that’s marketing for you. Nevertheless, it is true that a Subway sandwich certainly contains a lot more vegetables than, say, a Big Mac and fries.

And if you’re one of these Japanese Twitter users, your sandwich is literally bursting with vegetables! We’re not sure if this really a lifehack or not, but it is a way to get a sub sandwich and a salad all for price of the just the former.

“This Subway [in the second building of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Tokyo] has something called the ‘Infinity Destroyer,’ which has stuff like five times as much roast beef, and the ‘Giant Sub,’ which is almost 45 cm long and uses special ‘hand-knitted’ bread. They have the perfect menu for when you want to eat a lot!”

Subway (2)

Subway (1)

So, next time you’re in a Subway in Tokyo, be sure to ask for “yasai jougen made” to get a sandwich absolutely packed with veggies! And maybe get some salad dressing too…