Fast food Mexican chain now has a RAMEN BURRITO on the menu

 

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FoodBeast:

Mexican fast food chain California Tortilla is living up to their tagline: Mexican Re-imagined.

The Ramen Burrito, their latest addition to a cheeky fusion menu that already consists of a Korean BBQ Burrito and a Crunchy BBQ Ranch Burrito, seems to be a direct adaptation of recent trends to include ramen in just about everything.

California Tortilla, for those unfamiliar, is a chain of franchised Mexican fast food restaurants with 40+ stores in seven states (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts), none of which are California.

The new Tokyo Tower Burger from Mos Burger

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RocketNews 24:

Check out the new Tokyo Tower Burger from much-loved Japanese hamburger chain Mos Burger. With 14 layers of goodness, including chilli sauce and fried onion rings, this promises to be a spicy encounter as well as a heck of a mouthful.

But with Mos Burger known for its relatively small serving sizes, just how big is their latest offering? Come with us as we take you through the burger dedicated to Tokyo Tower, bite by delicious bite.

Anticipating the usual long line of people that’s synonymous with new store openings in Tokyo, we arrived at the store right at opening time. We were lucky it was 9:30am on a Friday morning because there weren’t many customers here at all!

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Deciding to forgo the cheese, we opt for the Tokyo Tower Burger, which comes served in a delightful little bucket to keep it all together.

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Unlike the towering versions we’ve seen in the past from other fast food franchises, this tower burger is significantly smaller. Still, it’s the tallest burger ever created in Mos Burger’s history.

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Mos Burger is known for quality, but its servings are notoriously small so it’s no surprise their Tower Burger is no bigger than an iPhone 5.

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It sure looks beautiful, though, and we’re impressed at how close to the promotional pics this thing is, especially after having seen some real fast food disasters in the past. As for the taste, the Tokyo Tower Burger packs a powerful punch, with the salsa flavour of the red chilli sauce dominating all the ingredients in the mouth. This is a burger we would happily have again, and its small (well, smaller) size meant we didn’t have to suffer a regret-filled belly bloat at the end of the meal!

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To celebrate the opening, we scored some special plastic file holders which were given out to a limited number of lucky customers.

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Mos Burger, with its Japanese roots and made-to-order meals, has always been one of our firm favourites. Next time you visit Tokyo Tower, be sure to swing by for a taste of their Tokyo Tower Burger because it won’t be available anywhere else!

Taco Bell to tackle the Japanese market

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RocketNews 24:

With perennial favorites such as Mos Burger, CoCo Ichibanya, Hotto Motto, and more, Japan has no shortage of tasty casual dining establishments to satisfy any craving. Yet many a foreign resident has surely at one time found himself longing for something more–the kind of guilty satisfaction that can only result from a visit to our favorite not-quite-Mexican joint, the peerless Taco Bell.

According to recent reports, the American fast food chain will soon be reentering the Japanese market, following up on its previous, disastrous, attempt almost three decades ago. Is this the beginning of a Mexican food renaissance in Japan, or simply the beginning of the end? We asked our foreign writers currently residing in Japan for their opinions, which proved to be mixed, to say the least.

■ American male, 31 
“I don’t really have an opinion either way. It’s not that I dislike Taco Bell. I just never ate there in America. Now if it were Chipotle instead…

■ Australian female, 38
“We don’t have Taco Bell back home, so I’d like to give it a try just once. I guess I want to see how bad it is lol.”

■ American female, 28
“I often ate at Taco Bell when I lived in America. The flavor is so-so, but it beats anywhere else on price. Then again, I can’t say I’m thrilled about the news just yet. That will depend on the menu. I’ll be really disappointed if they don’t have my favorite burritos, tostadas, or nachos.”

■ British male, 32
“I have to admit I’ve never actually eaten at Taco Bell – as far as I know they closed the few branches that were in the UK. Would I try it? Probably not. We cook Mexican food in our house all the time and to be honest I try to stay away from fast food meat if I can.”

■ Canadian male, late 30s
“I’m happy, but also a little worried. Taco Bell is very low-priced in Canada, and they also serve Dr. Pepper. On the other hand, I could go for some Japan-inspired wasabi tacos.”

■ American male, 36
“Mexican food has never really been my strong point, even though I’m from the taco mecca itself, southern California. But I’m happy about the news!

It’s not fine dining by any means, and there are plenty of tastier places. But sometimes you feel like just going all out, and Taco Bell gives you the best bang for your buck. There really aren’t many opportunities to eat Mexican food in Japan, so even if I myself don’t end up going to Taco Bell, it’s kind of like, ‘Well, I guess that’s nice.’

If what my Canadian coworker said about wasabi tacos were to come true, though, I would have to give them a try. Taco Bell doesn’t tend to worry too much about tradition, so I could see it happening.

On a slightly different note, I wonder how Japanese people will refer to Taco Bell when it opens.

You know how people refer to McDonald’s differently depending on if they’re from Kantou or Kansai? In Kantou it’s ‘Makku,’ whereas down in Kansai it’s ‘Makudo.’ The pronunciation of Taco Bell is actually different depending on which coast of the U.S. you’re on: if you go to the west coast, where Taco Bell is all over the place, the trademark bell logo is really visible. That’s perhaps why the pronunciation becomes ‘Taco BELL,’ with the emphasis on the second word. On the other hand, if you go to the east coast, where Mexican food isn’t as widespread, you’ll see less of the bell logo and more pictures of the taco menu itself. As a result, the accent falls on the first word, becoming ‘TACO Bell.’ The more you know, right?

As a west-coast native myself, I tend to prefer the ‘Taco BELL’ pronunciation, but I get the feeling Japan is going to shorten it to ‘Takobe‘ either way…

And here’s what our female writers had to say about the reemergence of the not-quite-Mexican chain:

■ British female, 26
“I’m a vegetarian, so I don’t have a lot of interest in the matter lol.”

■ Singaporean female, 28
“Personally, I don’t really care for Taco Bell. They did business in Singapore for a while but ended up losing out to McDonald’s and KFC, so I feel like they’re not going to last long in Japan unless they make some big changes to the menu.”

■ American female, 34
“I’m so happy I could die. I’m not proud of it, but I love Taco Bell.”

■ American female, 42
“Taco Bell is decent. I guess I’m happy seeing as there aren’t many Mexican restaurants in Japan, or else they’re really overpriced. To be honest, when I was living in San Diego, there were so many good, cheap Mexican restaurants that I never felt the need to go to Taco Bell lol. And there were the famous fish tacos…”

Perhaps with the exception of American female, 34, and English female, 26, none of our writers seemed to fall squarely into either camp. This is perhaps to be expected, considering that a meal at Taco Bell tends to leave one with mixed emotions. “I feel full… but I think I regret this decision.”

Given the lack of affordable Mexican restaurants in Japan, Taco Bell’s advance may be a step in the right direction. Personally, we’d like to see Japan take its own spin on the cuisine. Korean-Mexican fusion bulgogi tacos have proven a big hit in America, so wasabi tacos or even some other variation could certainly grab the world’s attention. As our American female, 28, noted, we’ll have to withhold judgement until we see the menu.

The new 1,500-yen Kobe beef burger from Lotteria (Japan)

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RocketNews 24:

Japanese hamburger chain Lotteria‘s newest luxury burger has finally landed, and it features legendary Kobe beef made from special livestock reared on pure water and premium feed. Kobe beef is of such renown that there are even rumours that cattle from the area are allowed to sip on beer, listen to fine music and enjoy a good massage so that their meat tastes simply divine.

So what would the fast food version of this luxury beef taste like? We were so curious we had to swing by Lotteria to pick up one of the new Kobe beef burgers as soon as they were released. Check out all the delicious details after the jump!

Lotteria’s special burger retails for a whopping 1,500 yen (US$12.71) including a medium-sized drink of your choice. Hardly the kind of price you’d normally expect to pay at a fast food restaurant, but this is Kobe beef after all, so we didn’t mind shelling out the extra yennies.

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In keeping with the premium theme, the burger comes in an unusually-shaped box, with a square base and eight curved panels complete with faux wood grain. It’s like a fast food jewellery box!

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The Kobe burger is the latest in a series of top-quality beef burgers released by the hamburger chain on the 29th day of every month. Why the 29th? In Japanese, the numbers 2 and 9 are read ni and ku, respectively, which when put together sounds like the Japanese word for meat: niku (肉). The Japanese do love a good pun!

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Once we had it out of its fancy box, we were a little surprised at the size of the Kobe Burger – it could easily fit in the palm of your hand, so anyone with even a regular appetite could finish this off in five or six good bites. That said, we didn’t come here to gorge, we came to savour the quality meat, so we assumed that this would be a case of quality over quantity as we slowly unwrapped the burger.

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The Kobe beef patty comes sandwiched between white, sesame seed-sprinkled buns, giving it a surprisingly sophisticated appearance. This being a decidedly Japanese burger, it seems only right that the buns are made from rice flour, which gives them a soft yet slightly more glutinous texture than those made with wheat. Bread made with rice flour can often tastes quite plain, but no doubt this was an intentional choice on Lotteria’s part so that the flavour of the roasted sesame seeds, and of course the beef waiting beneath, could come right to the front.

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OK, enough teasing. It’s time to look inside!

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While Lotteria’s advertising poster shows a neat dollop of sauce sitting atop a fat patty, we were surprised to see that the sauce had disappeared into the top bun. Being seasoned fast food experts, however, we know burgers aren’t meant to be pretty; they’re meant to be eaten. After cutting our burger in two to get a few cheeky photos, we dived right in.

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The meat really is the star of the show here. It’s succulent and moist and has an amazing melt-in-the-mouth quality that Kobe beef is famous for. The flavour is miles away from your regular fast food patty, and it even leaves you with a pleasant after-taste – blindfolded, you’d never guess that this beef came from a fast food joint. As expected, the accompanying lettuce is nothing to write home about but it does provide a crunchy third texture to complement the silky smoothness of the meat and the soft chewiness of the rice flour buns.

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The sauce sits mostly on the top and bottom buns and is unusual in that it contains extra pieces of Kobe beef. Appropriately called “Kobe beef meat sauce”, it features apples, bouillon, and locally produced onions. The resulting flavour is rich and gravy-like, yet light with a sweet saltiness.

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The verdict? We’re always impressed with the texture and flavour of Kobe beef but this is the first time we’ve had it ground up in a patty and served up as a 1,500-yen burger. And that’s what makes this a real treat. It’s clear that a lot of thought has been put into the textures and flavours here so that they really compliment and showcase the luxury beef. This is a seriously good hamburger.

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Whether or not you should spend your hard-earned dough on one of these burgers really depends on your end-goal. If you’ve got a hankering for a burger at a fast food joint, the price point will be steep and you’ll likely be suspiciously aware of how light your wallet feels on the walk home. If you feel like trying Kobe beef but don’t want to fork out a huge amount for one of the most expensive meats in the world, however, this is an opportunity you should absolutely jump on!

Bon appétit!

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Happy Kentucky Fried New Year! And this year’s KFC New Year Lucky Bag contains…?

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RocketNews 24:

Every New Year’s, people across Japan flock to stores for special bargains, and in particular, the “Lucky Bags” known as fukubukuro. From electronics and chocolate shops to up-scale department stores, Japanese shops and businesses of all kinds come up with original Lucky Bags at the beginning of each year to tempt those of us out for some new year’s shopping. Now, these bags are supposed to offer good value, containing products worth more than the price you pay for the bag. Well, the bags may be a good value, but the catch is that you can’t choose what you get in your bag, and each year there ends up being much online discussion on whether the Lucky Bags from different shops are a particularly good or bad deal.

Not to miss out on the action, the team at the Japanese RocketNews24 site has also joined the Lucky Bag rush, and as we’ve already started reporting, we’ve taken a look at the contents of quite a few of the bags being sold this year. And one of them happens to be a bag from none other than … Kentucky Fried Chicken Japan. Let’s see what “finger-lickin’ good” items were included in their Lucky Bag for 2015!

The Lucky Bag we purchased from KFC this year was priced at 2,000 yen (US$16.64). So, what did we get for a little under $20?

▼Here’s the bag on sale at the KFC shop we went to. There were only five bags left when we got there! KFC 1

▼And this is what the bag contained: four tickets for two chicken pieces, a discount coupon pass and a bottle of their honey maple syrup.KFC 5

▼The four tickets alone are worth 1,920 yen ($16), and they came in a pretty bag illustrated with motifs associated with New Year’s in Japan.KFC 3

▼And this honey maple syrup should be a welcome item for fans of KFC’s popular biscuits. Now you won’t have to go to a KFC shop to have their delightfully sweet syrup. It’s sure to go well with the pancakes or toast you have at home!KFC 4

▼And the bag the goods came in was actually quite nice. It’s a good size, and the KFC logo is unobtrusive enough that it looks simple and stylish overall. KFC 6

▼It may look like a regular bag from the outside, but it’s actually thermally insulated, so it will come in handy for carrying food for picnics or outdoor barbecues.KFC 2

So, what did we think of KFC’s 2015 Lucky Bag? You get most of your purchase price’s worth from the tickets alone, and the coupon pass can be used as many times as you like for a limited time, so we guess it’s not a bad deal, but to be honest, we also didn’t feel like it was a great deal either, at least not something that would make us jump up and down with joy.

That said, you would probably be getting at least your money’s worth of products, and if you like their syrup or if you like the look of the bag, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be more than happy with this year’s KFC Lucky Bag.

Link

McDonald’s brand-new Vietnam restaurant is already a total mob scene

RocketNews 24:

McDonald's Brand-New Vietnam Restaurant Is Already A Total Mob Scene

The opening of McDonald’s first restaurant in Vietnam on Saturday drew massive crowds, as well as a live DJ, face painting and various performers.

Hundreds of people began camping out at the new location in Ho Chi Minh City hours before its 8 a.m. opening to get their first taste of a Big Mac and fries made in their own hometown, according to Liberty Voice.

Here’s a photograph of some of the lines snaking into the street:

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The arrival of the fast food chain is seen as a sign of Vietnam’s rising wealth.

Food industry experts say McDonald’s and other American fast-food brands typically market themselves in Asia as a lifestyle choice for the middle class, rather than as an inexpensive option for the poor, and that their Vietnam strategy is no exception,” according to The New York Times.

Vietnam’s per capita income rose to $1,550 in 2012 from $1,000 in 2008, according to the World Bank.

The new McDonald’s is the fast food chain’s first venture into a new southeast Asian market in two decades.

It’s also Vietnam’s first drive-thru restaurant.

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Check out this link:

McDonald’s brand-new Vietnam restaurant is already a total mob scene

Link

Lotteria (Japan) releases Chocolate and Honey Mustard Chicken Burger for Valentine’s Day

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Foodbeast:

For pairing with their chocolate dipping sauce fries, Japanese fast food chain Lotteria is launching the totally eyebrow-raising but kinda-sorta incredible-sounding “Chocolate and Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken” burger, starting February 6.

According to the press release, the burger features a grilled chicken thigh patty, daubed with Lotte-Ghana milk chocolate sauce and spicy French and grain mustard with honey. We’re hoping it tastes something like a sweeter mole poblano, though we wouldn’t be totally mad at a burger that just tastes like chocolate. ‘Tis the season, after all.

H/T Kotaku + Picthx Lotteria

Check out this link:

Lotteria (Japan) releases Chocolate and Honey Mustard Chicken Burger for Valentine’s Day