First Carl’s Jr. opens in Tokyo’s Akihabara district, massive line-up ensues


RocketNews 24/Business Wire:

CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc. (CKE), parent company of Carl’s Jr.® and Hardee’s®, continues its impressive international growth with the opening of its first Carl’s Jr. restaurant in Japan.

Perhaps influenced by the weak footing of McDonald’s last year, it seems a steady stream of US franchises such as Taco Bell and Shake Shack have been crossing the Pacific and setting up shop in Tokyo. On 4 March, it was to be major burger chain Carl’s Jr. coming the otaku mecca of Akihabara.

This marks the first of a multi-unit development agreement between CKE and Mitsuuroko Group Holdings Co., Ltd. to develop 150 Carl’s Jr. restaurants in Japan over the next 10 years. As part of the development deal, Carl’s Jr. restaurants also are scheduled to open in Azabujyuban, Odaiba, Shibuya and Roppongi.

“Japan is the largest burger market in Asia and Japanese consumers are well known for their passionate enthusiasm for quality, great tasting food. The Carl’s Jr. brand and menu are perfectly positioned for Japan as we offer bigger, better tasting, chargrilled burgers served with high quality, fresh ingredients and best-in-class customer service,” said Ned Lyerly, President, International at CKE. “We partnered with the Mitsuuroko Group as our Master Franchisee in Japan to establish our brand across the country and we are confident in our collective ability to deliver to a superior level of guest satisfaction in our restaurants.”

“Carl’s Jr. fills a major void in the Japanese burger market. There’s no other global burger chain that offers such premium and innovative menu items served with industry leading customer service. What’s more is the brand exudes a cool, youthful and edgy persona that will resonate with Japan’s burger lovers of all ages,” said Mr. Kohei Tajima, the CEO of MGHD. “We are honored to open the first Carl’s Jr. in Japan and look forward to elevating the brand’s presence in the market over the next decade.”

Open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., the Carl’s Jr. restaurant in Akihabara will offer innovative breakfast, lunch and dinner menu items including the brand’s signature line of 100% Angus Beef Thickburgers, such as the Western Bacon Cheeseburger and Jalapeno Thickburger, along with Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders and Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Shakes. The restaurant will also offer complimentary Wi-Fi, a refillable beverage bar and draft beer.

To celebrate the arrival of Carl’s Jr. in Japan, the restaurant will give away “A Year’s Worth of Free Burgers” to the first 50 people through the door on opening day. This popular promotion is well-loved by fans around the world with some of them lining up days before the restaurant opens.

Key facts about Carl’s Jr. in Akihabara

  • Address: 4-4-3, Sotokanda Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
  • Hours of operation: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily; breakfast hours: 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. daily
  • Menu features:
    • Carl’s Jr.’s signature line of 100 percent Angus Beef Thickburgers®
    • High-quality, all-white-meat Chargrilled and Hand-Breaded Chicken
    • Hand-Scooped Ice Cream Shakes™
    • Refillable beverage bar
  • Special amenities:
    • Complimentary Wi-Fi

Monjayaki, the popular Tokyo dish you’ve probably never heard of

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RocketNews 24:

When people think of Japanese food, most think of sushi, sashimi or even some of the more popular Japanese comfort foods like okonomiyaki or udon noodles. If you’re a tourist, however, you’ve likely never experienced one of Tokyo’s most popular dishes:monjayaki. But don’t feel bad; even some Japanese people who don’t live in the Tokyo metropolitan area (75 percent of the population) have never tasted it. This is one reason why Tsukishima Monjadori, a street with over 100 monjayaki restaurants, ranks in the top five sight-seeing spots in the capital for Japanese tourists (FYI, the other four are Harajuku, Tokyo Disneyland, Odaiba and Tsukiji Fish Market).

Monjayaki is simple but complicated: it has just a few easy ingredients and can be made in under three minutes yet it requires instructions to make, and even eat, properly. It helps to know, for example, that monja is not usually eaten with chopsticks, and that there’s a good reason why.

Read on to learn more about this unexpectedly delicious fare: watch a how-to videoshowing you how to make it, check out photos that show you how to eat it, and get tips from a master monjayaki chef.

I first met monjayaki chef Yasutami Ōhashi (who goes by “Tommy”) when I came to Japan in 1994. At that time he was running a restaurant in Okayama City called “Hibachi,” where he served a varied menu of Japanese izakaya favorites such as braised fish, gyoza, and edamame, accompanied by lots of draft beer. Tommy cooked in the middle of the restaurant, surrounded by a counter which could seat up to 20 customers. Whenever you went into Hibachi, he’d immediately introduce you to the person sitting next to you giving both parties just enough information about each other to pique a conversation. Tommy knew that getting people to talk to each other was central to creating a friendly atmosphere where people would want to come back not just for the great food, but also to socialize.

▼Master chef Tommy Ōhashi is going to teach us how to make monjayaki.

Tommy

In November of 1999, Tommy became the first person to introduce monjayaki to Okayama through his restaurant called Taiyo no Jidai (太陽の時代). It was so successful, he now has four restaurants, (two in Okayama City, one in Kurashiki, and one in Takamatsu) all specializing in monjayaki.

Taiyo no jidai means “sunny era” and refers to the new century we were about to enter when he started his endeavor. “People were trepidatious about the new century,” said Tommy. “They were worried about Y2K and some thought the world was going to end! I wanted people to be happy and optimistic about the future so I called my restaurant Taiyo no Jidai so people would have something bright to look forward to in the new year and the 21st century.”

Ingredients:

Although the ingredients for monjayaki vary, Tommy treated me to three different dishes he makes at Taiyo no Jidai: 1. mentaiko (cod roe) & mochi 2. seafood & green onions 3. eggplant & cheese. These each arrived in separate metal bowls.

ingredients

Underneath the main ingredients in the bowl were shredded cabbage and a liquid made by combining wheat flour (komugiko) and fish broth (dashi). “Monjayaki first became popular after WWII, ” Tommy explains, “because during the war when food was scarce, the easy mixture of flour and dashi was a cheap way for families to eat.” He then gave me his first tip to making tasty monja.

Tip #1: To make the best monjayaki, use the highest quality flour.

▼Tommy uses the same flour used to make cakes.

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Next, he gave me a plate and one special utensil: a tiny spatula.

▼Plate and small spatula, called a moji-bera which means “word spatula.”

plate

▼The teppan grill, the same as is used for okonomiyaki, is embedded in the middle of the restaurant table.

teppan

“Pencils and paper were also hard to come by during the war so children used the grill like a chalkboard to practice writing their letters in the flour and water mixture” Tommy said while pouring the mentaiko and mochi mixture onto the heated plate. “They’d draw letters with the small spatula. This is why the spatula is called moji-bera, or ‘word spatula.’”

With the monja on the grill, it is now time to use two bigger spatulas to beat it up! With a spatula in each fist, you cut up the ingredients rapid-fire by pounding the spatulas onto the grill thereby cutting up the ingredients (see video for action shot).

And Rocketeers, you can rejoice because this is one time when it’s okay to play with your food–in fact, it’s encouraged! Monja is surely the only Japanese food that allows you to get rid of stress, practice your drumming, and hone your culinary skills all while at the dinner table!

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When the ingredients are chopped small enough to make the monja a runny liquidy paste, let it rest to cook on the grill. After several more minutes, it’ll still be gooey but this time it’ll be ready to eat.

▼Monja on the grill, finished cooking and ready to eat!

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You’ve probably noticed that monja is not very aesthetically pleasing: it would not win a culinary beauty contest. You could even say it looks kind of, well, sick. If you’ve ever gotten drunk on shots of tequila, you know what I mean. This unappealing visual was a big barrier for me the first time I ate monja. So I tried eating it with my eyes closed, which helped. But I eventually overcame the association with drunken tequila nights by thinking of dogs. Yes, dogs. When dogs throw up, they eat their vomit. Some people say this is instinct, but I don’t think so. I think dogs eat their vomit because…it’s delicious!

Monjayaki tastes best when it is piping hot, so eat it straight off the teppan plate with themoji-bera. There is a special technique, which brings us to Tommy’s second tip.

Tip No. 2: The proper way to eat monja is to pull off a portion with the moji-bera and press down on it to get the piece to stick to your spatula…

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Then turn over the spatula and put it straight in your mouth.

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The plate is there only if you need it, such as when the monja has been sitting too long on the grill and is burning and you want to get it off the grill quickly. Speaking of burning, Tommy has another tip for us now.

Tip No. 3: Don’t waste the okuge! It tastes good with beer.

▼Okuge is the burnt stuff on the hot plate, located around the perimeter of the liquid.

okuge

The fun in monjayaki is definitely in the creation of it on the grill and sharing the food among friends and family.

Tip No. 4: You can make dessert monja!

This is a specialty of Taiyo no Jidai restaurant, and isn’t available anywhere else that I know of, but Tommy shows us that the same technique can be used to make a delicious strawberry dessert.

▼Strawberries and cream is just one of the dessert monja served at Taiyo no Jidai.

dessert

▼Yep, you’re gonna throw that beautiful concoction straight onto the grill!

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▼And mix it and beat it up just like regular monja.

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All that’s left to do is eat it with the moji-bera. The warm dessert melts in your mouth and tastes just like it has been baked in the oven–amazing!

There you have it, straight from the master chef who brought monjayaki to Okayama and started us all off with a sunny monjayaki 21st century. So Rocketeers, get to work making your own monja and be sure to let us know if you come up with something original and amazing that we just have to try!

Taiyo no Jidai has four restaurant locations in Western Japan:

Okayama Prefecture:
3-13-56 Omote-Cho, Okayama City 700-0822
1-17-2 Aoe Kita-ku, Okayama City 700-0941
619-2 Shimosho, Kurashiki City, 701-0112

Kagawa Prefecture:
4-20 Kajiyamachi,
Two Feet Bldg,
2F, Takamatsu 760-0028

Video

Amazing time-lapse video turns Tokyo into a floating, endless metropolis

Two features of Tokyo make an immediate impression on visitors. First is the sheer size of the teeming metropolis, as it seems to envelop you from all sides. Second is the otherworldly atmosphere imparted by its futuristic architecture, intricate network of crisscrossing train lines, and the fields of neon that come to life like blooming flowers after sundown.

These two characteristics have been captured, interpreted, and enhanced in an entrancing new video from Yokohama-based visual artist Darwinfish105 which gives the impression of floating through a Tokyo without borders or end.

Darwinfish105 has caught our attention with his time-lapse videos before, such as when he trained his lens on the giant Patlabor anime robot that made an appearance in Chiba. This time, he’s in Tokyo, and instead of shooting from the ground with a handheld camera, he attached one to the front of a train on the Yurikamome Line.

The Yurikamome runs from Shimbashi in central Tokyo to the island of Odaiba in Tokyo Bay. The view along the way is unquestionably impressive, but with 100,000 passengers a day using the line, plenty of people have already seen it. Darwinfish105 knew he needed to do something unique in order to show people something they haven’t already seen hundreds of times before, and his first step was setting the exposure time to an extremely slow one second.

As if this didn’t already make you feel like you’re getting ready to warp out of Tokyo, Darwinfish105’s next trick makes it look like you actually did. Using mirrors, he alternately duplicates the image along the horizontal and vertical center lines.

The ethereal aesthetics serve as a poignant reminder that with just a change in perspective, there’s beauty to be discovered in surprising places. So next time you’re on the train, take a moment to look out the window and see if there isn’t some waiting there for you.

Link

Gundam Donuts!

RocketNews 24:

 

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Despite the traditional image of anime fans as couch potatoes whose consumption of junk food is only rivaled by their consumption of panty-flashing animation sequences, it’s only recently that gastronomy and Japanese animation have officially combined forces. Recently we heard about the giant, 10-patty Attack on Titan burger, but what if your tastes run less towards towering monsters and meat and more in the direction of giant robots and sweets?

If that’s the case, maybe you’d prefer a Gundam donut.

These high-tech-looking pastries are available exclusively at the Gundam Cafe, which has branches in Tokyo Station, the Diver City shopping complex on Odaiba, the Aeon Mall Makuhari Shin Toshin, and anime haven Akihabara (of course).

The first of the two varieties is an edible recreation of the original heroic Gundam, the RX-78.

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The donut’s white chocolate coating matches the color scheme of its inspiration from the very first Mobile Suit Gundam TV series, which began airing way back in 1979. In the years since, the Gundam franchise has established a number of proud traditions, one of which is the hero being consistently upstaged by charismatic antagonist Char. Once again,Gundam’s villain gets the better of its hero, as the Char’s Custom Zaku donut is specced with a coating of strawberry chocolate, Japan’s current trendy flavor of the month which also shows up in Starbucks’ sakura lattes.

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Each of the donuts is priced at 320 yen (US$3.10). While you can get them at any Gundam Café, we recommend the Odaiba branch, so that you can munch on them while staring up at the giant 1:1 scale Gundam statue.

Related: Gundam Café
Source: IT Media
Images: Gundam Café

Check out this link:

Gundam Donuts!

Link

Hand-carved Gundam figure is ready for battle, bazookas and all

RocketNews 24:

 

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What would you do if you had a father-in-law who made handmade gifts like the one in this photo? Well, if you’re a hardcore Gundam fan, you’d probably be pretty ecstatic. A few days ago, one Japanese netizen tweeted a photo of his father-in-law’s hand-carved Gundam figurine complete with giant bazookas. It gets even cooler because this isn’t even the first one that was made! You won’t believe the following photos showcasing one man’s incredible artistic talent.

Here’s the original tweet by @Frozen_tono:

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My artisan father-in-law’s amazing carving skills. This is his third creation: a Gundam made entirely from wood of the Zelkova tree and equipped with bazookas. It smells really good, too!

▼ The awesome, crouching pose adds to the overall epicness

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▼ Pretty accurate when compared to the design of the original RX-78-2 model, wouldn’t you say?

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By the way, in case you were unaware of its existence, the next time you’re in Odaiba, Tokyo Bay you should stop by this 1/1 scaled Gundam model that was constructed in 2009 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the franchise.

▼ Life-size (theoretically) at 18 meters (60 feet)!

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If you read the original tweet closely, you probably noticed that the bazooka Gundam was actually the man’s third creation. Aren’t you incredibly curious to find out what his first two creations were? Luckily, another Twitter user asked @Frozen_tono to share details about the first two:

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@Nyapoleon: “I’m so impressed with this picture. What were the first two things that your father-in-law made?”

@Frozen_tono: “The first one was a wooden rocking horse he made for my son. The second one was an upright Gundam.”

▼Gundam-inspired version of a classic children’s toy

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This fantastic craftsmanship has certainly piqued our interest to see more future toys made by this man. Maybe someone could convince him to carve Gundam models representing every major Gundam anime installment over the years…

Source: My Game News Flash

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Hand-carved Gundam figure is ready for battle, bazookas and all