We try out “instant rice balls”, prepared with water, to see if they’re actually tasty

These rice balls are meant to be cooked easily and to last for a long time…but do they sacrifice flavor for function?

Rice balls, also known as “onigiri”, come in all shapes, sizes and flavors. Seriously, you can have a one-kilogram (2.2-pound) literal ball of rice stuffed with edamame soybeans, a palm-size disc-shaped rice ball with a dumpling on top, or even what looks like a rice sandwich. If you’ve got rice stuffed with something and molded into some kind of shape, then, well, what you’ve got is a rice ball.

Rice balls make a great snack, but they take a bit of work to make, and they don’t last long once made. But food production company Onisi released a solution to that problem last year: “instant onigiri”! They’re portable rice balls that have a five-year shelf-life (before opening the package), and can be made by just adding water!

Thinking they might be good in a pinch, but wondering if they’re actually tasty, we bought two flavors to try out. We started with the seaweed flavor. The ingredients say that it’s composed of cooked dry rice, which is also known as “quick-cooking” rice. It also contains dry ingredients for flavoring.

The package has a handy zip opening so it can be opened and closed throughout preparation. When we opened it up to look inside…

,,,the rice and seaweed turned out to be dry and crispy! This conclusion was further solidified by the fact that when you close up the bag and shake it, it makes a rattling noise like dry rice.

Now we were curious about how flaky rice pieces could become a rice ball with just water. Without further ado, we took out the freshness package, pulled off the sticker on the front so we could see inside the bag…

…poured water in up to the line….

…sealed it, and shook it up!

After confirming that the water and rice were thoroughly mixed…

…we let it sit. When using room-temperature water, it takes 60 minutes for one of these rice balls to be ready, so we went to watch some dog videos while we waited.

One hour later, filled with the excitement of a new food and hungry for rice balls, we came to check on it. Was it ready?

It was! It had somehow become onigiri-shaped!

Mouths watering, we followed the directions to open the bag and make a nice holder out of the package. Cut off the top first, and then the sides, and…

…voila! A seaweed rice ball!

It looked like an ordinary, fresh rice ball. The rice was soft and fluffy, and the seaweed moist. It looked like we’d bought one from a convenience store!

But how did it taste?

So good! …is not really what we’d say about the flavor of this instant rice ball, but it’s not bad. The rice tastes decent, and the seaweed has a good texture. It’s without a doubt a seaweed rice ball, though its flavor is not on par with a convenience store rice ball.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what is holding this rice ball back. Maybe it’s because its flavor is a little brothy, or maybe the MSG taste is too strong. Regardless, to be able to make a rice ball with just water is pretty nice.

Next we tried a salmon-flavored one. This time, we tried cooking it with hot water instead of room temperature water, which only takes 15 minutes.

As before, we opened up the top, poured the water in….

Sealed it and shook it, waited 15 minutes…

…and voila! It was done!

It was steaming hot and looked delicious! It might have been our imagination, but it looked a lot fluffier than the seaweed one. We took a bite….

…and the salmon rice ball is a lot tastier than the seaweed one! It’s still got a strong MSG flavor, but it feels like a solid rice ball. At the very least, it’s a lot better than those ice-cold rice balls they give you on international flights.

In any case, the flavors are decent, and being easy to make is a definite plus. They’d be great to take as a mid-adventure snack on a hike or a long trip. Plus, since they are meant to last for up to five years, they’d also be great to put into an emergency preparedness kit. It’s always best to be prepared!

Officially called Nigirazu Onigiri, you can buy these instant rice balls through Onisi’s web shop in packs of 10 or 30. They’re priced at 2,376 yen or 7,128 yen (US$21 or $63) depending on the pack. A trial set of three is also available for 712 yen, if you’re not ready for complete commitment right away.

Images ©SoraNews24

It’s so hot in Japan that people are cooking food in/on their cars【Photos】

Too busy to cook after work? This might be a solution for you.

Summer in Japan is hot. Temperatures across the country are typically over 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) and sometimes even as high as 40 C (104 F) during the day, while the humidity is rarely lower than 50 percent. Fancy feeling sweaty and gross all day? Then summer in Japan is for you, especially this year’s, which is hotter than usual.

In such hot weather, it’s no secret that cars are storing and building heat when they sit in the sun, so that when you open the door it’s like opening the door to the underworld. According to WeatherNews.jp, when the air temperature outside the car is 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit), the interior of a black car, with the windows rolled up and no sunshade, can get up to 57 Celsius (134 Fahrenheit), while the dashboard can get as hot as 79 Celsius (174 Fahrenheit).

▼ This car registered an exterior temperature of 41 Celsius on July 18. “It’s so hot my hands are sticking to the steering wheel! Hurry up and get here already, winter!”

But Japanese netizens have found ways to make this insufferable heat useful. As it turns out, 79 Celsius is a great temperature to slow cook food at, so why not leave dinner to cook while you’re busy at work?

One netizen even decided to fry some ham on the roof of their car. They live in Saitama, where temperatures on the date of this post were as high as 35 Celsius. That made the top of their black car hot enough to fry up some ham to the point of making it crispy.

“My car was super hot today so I thought I might be able to fry something on it. It really worked when I tried some ham…”

Another industrious netizen “boiled” some eggs inside of their car. They placed a 10-pack on the dashboard in the morning, and by the evening they were nicely soft-boiled, perfect for dinner that night and breakfast the next morning.

Many people worried that the netizen was going to get food poisoning from those eggs, but they said that the bacteria inside the shell dies if it is faced with temperatures over 65 Celsius for a long period of time.

So in short, it got so hot in the car that the bacteria in the eggs couldn’t survive.

Yep, it’s pretty hot right now, and Japanese netizens are feeling it:

“My steering wheel is hot. The AC only cooled down when I got home…”
“I have my AC on max but it can’t keep up with the heat!”
“It’s really hot, so when I turned on the engine I put the AC on max, but I just got blasted with max hot air lol. Help!”
“Everything inside my car is hot.”
“The wind is hot. It’s like opening up an air conditioner unit or a car bonnet. I’m not just going to melt; I’m going to die. I want some shaved ice or an ice cream float.”

▼ This netizen’s windshield sticker melted while they were out shopping for a bit…

One netizen has a solution to that initial roasting heat in your car: apparently, if you open the windows on the passenger side, then open and close the driver’s door about five times, the pressure drives the hot air out, and then you can cool down the car with AC. Who knew?!

You will need lots of tips like that to survive a hot Japanese summer. Why not pick up a Häagen-Dazs ice cream sandwich milkshake to cool down with while you try some other tricks?

Source: Otakom
Featured image: Twitter/@ahirubino

Japanese child’s sad story of learning that “goodwill” is sometimes just “self-satisfaction”

It’s a hard truth they learned early on in life.

Recently, a Japanese netizen posted a controversial tweet claiming that sending 1,000 origami cranes to disaster areas, in order to “cheer up” the victims, is more a method to gain self-satisfaction and less an act of good will. That seemed to have gotten Twitter thinking…where does “kindness” end and “self-serving ambitions” begin?

It’s the age old debate. If you’re doing something for someone else just to feel good about what you did, is it really a selfless act? What makes someone a selfless person, or a kind person? Not just acts of “goodwill”, as one netizen, @wo__OIL, learned early in life:

“When I was in elementary school, our homeroom teacher was hospitalized and we decided to fold 1,000 paper cranes for them. I, the outcast of the class, was given 50 sheets of black origami paper, and even though I wasn’t very good at it, I worked really hard to fold 50 paper cranes. But after finishing them, I was told, “Black is an unlucky color!” and they were thrown right into the trash. It was then that I understood that ‘Goodwill is just for self-satisfaction’.”

It’s a strangely deep conclusion to make as a child, and a sadly cynical outcome of being bullied, which is a problem for many grade-school students. The netizen rightly believed that, because they rejected his efforts, their classmates weren’t invested in the act of goodwill in itself, but in the image of themselves doing a good thing.

Their selfishness lies in the fact that they weren’t willing to share the experience of doing a nice thing for someone, which is probably why the netizen knew, at a young age, that they were wrong. The post, with its intense realism and hard-hitting theme, quickly spread among Japanese netizens, who sympathized with the netizen’s experience:

“That’s bullying more than anything else. A person who has good intentions can also have evil intentions. ‘Goodwill’ isn’t limited to decent people.”
“This exact same thing happened to me when I was in preschool. I had only black paper and when I made the cranes, they got mad at me and said ‘This is bad luck and it’s dirty!” and threw them away right in front of me…”
“When I was a kid, I was told that God is watching the people who completely reject other people’s hard work, because they’re not decent people.”
“That’s a cruel story. But people who have been hurt can understand the pain of others.”

It’s hard to find people who are truly good; that was a harsh truth that this netizen was forced to learn at an early age. But that’s part of being human; we are all flawed creatures, and though we may do bad things, we do many more good things, too. Countless tales of kindness on Japanese trains have proven that.

Source: Twitter/@wo__OIL via My Game News Flash
Top mage: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso

New bright blue salad dressing now available, promises Instagram-worthy restaurant dishes

Thanks to this new product we might be seeing a lot more blue food at restaurants in Japan over the next few months.

When it comes to Instagrammable food, it’s form over flavor. It doesn’t matter if the food tastes good or not; if it’s pretty on the plate (before you dive in, of course), it’s going up on the ‘Gram.

While ordinary food artfully arranged like high cuisine is also Instagram-worthy, as a chef, the most sure-fire way to get your food shared on social media is to make it unique, like pancakes on a stick; cute, like food shaped into characters; or colorful, like rainbow grilled cheese.

That’s why Kenko, a company that provides packaged foodstuffs to the Japanese food-service industry, created their new “Ocean Blue” dressing: so that restaurants can produce colorful, beautiful, Instagram-worthy plates.

But not at the expense of personal health! Ocean Blue’s blue color comes naturally from Spirulina, which is a powder formed from a certain type of algae that is packed with protein, antioxidants, and vitamins. The dressing also contains collagen, which helps keep skin and joints young, and it’s oil-free, meaning it’s low-fat.

According to Kenko, this healthy, blue dressing can be used in any number of dishes: as a salad dressing, as a pickling agent, with noodles, as a component in sauces, and even on desserts. It’s flavored with grapefruit, which gives it a bite of acidity and a tang of fruitiness that should complement any dish.

If you’re a color nut like me, you’re probably wondering, “Where can I get it?!”, but sadly Ocean Blue doesn’t seem to be available for general purchase by consumers, at least not at your local grocery store. You can always pretend to own a restaurant and order a case from their online shop, though, where it sells for 502 yen (US$4.50) for a 500-milliliter (16.9-ounce) bottle.

In any case, you might find a lot more blue foods at restaurants in Japan over the next few months, as chefs begin to experiment with new menus using this new “superfood” dressing. Maybe some place will serve it with blue yakiniku and blue takoyaki for an all-blue meal!

Source: PR Times via Netlab
Top image: PR Times

Insert images: PR Times, Kenko

Creative Thai snack commercials are clever and funny, but also perplexing and weird

And yet for some reason you’ll still want to eat these snacks.

Thai commercials are known for being completely committed to evoking a strong emotional response of some kind from the viewer. Most of the time that means that they’re going to make you cry, but they can be pretty funny too. It does seem like no matter what they’re selling, though, the biggest tool for Thai marketers is the element of surprise.

That’s evident in some of the most recent commercials by Thai snack company Voiz, who tend to make their surprises a bit more on the eccentric side. Take this recent commercial for their crackers, simply titled “The Box”. It’s actually the least bizarre of all the commercials we have included; in fact, it’s a brilliant bit of humorous, science-fiction cinema, in spite of the fact that it’s a commercial.

The video starts off with a man who seems to be packing away his home. He seals up a box full of books and magazines, and, satisfied with the completion of his task, bends to pick up the last package of Voiz crackers in the bag for a post-job snack.

As he’s munching his crackers, he notices that he accidentally forgot one magazine, but when he opens the box to put it away, the box is suddenly empty. He seems confused, but not yet alarmed. He puts the magazine in the box, closes it, and, just to see what happens, opens it again. The magazine has disappeared, and the box is once again empty.

▼ I would be standing far away from that box too.

At this point, the man is, understandably, a little alarmed. After a moment of deep thought, though, he bravely decides to get in the box himself. He closes the lid, waits a few seconds, and then bursts out to see another version of himself busily unloading the shelf behind him. He must have gone back in time!

So he does the only natural thing to do: grabs the still-unopened package of Voiz crackers, and, with an idea in mind, gets back in the box to see what happens next.

When he bursts out of the box for a second time, now with more confidence, he’s gone even further back in time to when his room was still decorated. It seems his plan has worked: there’s a brand new, completely unopened package of Voiz on the floor next to the box, which he gleefully picks up.

What happens next? We’ll you’ll have to watch to find out. Spoiler alert: Voiz crackers are apparently too good to share.

Another somewhat strange commercial, in a weirdly touching way, is “The Unbreakable Love”. It’s about a heartbroken coffee mug whose relationship is saved by Voiz waffle cookies. Heartwarming? …maybe. Bizarre? Definitely.

The next commercial is just ridiculous, and really funny in a perverse way. “Classroom” features a high school girl who decides to snack on one of Voiz’s tasty chocolate waffle cookies after class. Suddenly the school pretty-boy appears and, with apparently romantic intentions, gets dangerously close, but the outcome will surprise you, in more ways than one.

But perhaps the weirdest Voiz commercial is “The Secret”, about secrets and young love. A girl is hiding a secret from her boyfriend, but it turns out he is hiding even more from her. Once you find out what it is, you’ll probably be just as baffled, and uncomfortable, as I was.

Yep, these Thai snack commercials are pretty weird, but also kind of ingenious, in an eccentric way. We have to say, though, that the king of weird commercials has got to be Japan, where milk-squirting nipples and freaky singing pizza animals have been known to make an appearance. In fact, the top Japanese commercials of 2017 should give you enough weird for a month.

Just remember to take breaks in the middle of the video, otherwise you might become one with the weird.

Source: YOMYOF
Images: Vimeo/Work that works

Super compact, foldable electric motorcycle soon to be available in stores in Japan

More fun than a bike, more convenient than a scooter, the Blaze Smart EV is the best new way to get around town.

When you live in a big city, there are lots of ways to get around without a car, like motorcycles, scooters, and bicycles. But motorcycles are a little dangerous, and scooters can be costly to maintain. Bicycles are inexpensive, but they’re slow and they can be exhausting, especially if you have to pedal up numerous hills on your commute.

Japanese car dealer and automobile developer Blaze has a happy medium for you: the Blaze Smart EV electric motorcycle! It’s compact, convenient, eco-friendly, and it’s faster than a bike, but much easier to maintain than a motorcycle or scooter.

The Blaze Smart EV is 100-percent powered by electricity, so if you’re feeling the heat from climate change, this bicycle might help ease your conscience a little. It charges within three-and-a-half hours using an ordinary electrical outlet, so you won’t have to find a special charging spot, either.

Its lithium iron battery has a 30-kilometer (18 mile) lifespan on a full charge, and it can go up to 30 kilometers per hour, indicating that it can ride for a solid hour at full speed before running out of juice. It’s also got enough ‘oomph’ to climb hills with ease, so residents of hilly neighborhoods can breathe a sigh of relief.

The Smart EV is compact: only 120 centimeters wide (less than four feet) when fully extended. Plus, it folds in just five seconds to half that size, which makes it convenient to store when you’re not using it. It’s fairly lightweight, too, at only 18 kilograms (less than 40 pounds), which is light enough to be carried by most adults.

To make it even more convenient, it also has Bluetooth and USB connectivity for hooking up to your favorite devices, and it has a security alarm that appears to sound off when it’s touched without the key. It also comes in four stylish colors: black, white, khaki (which is more like a forest green), and wine red.

Just because it’s small and light doesn’t mean it’s flimsy, though: this motorcycle has undergone multiple tests to confirm its durability before its release. The handlebars, seats, and frame have all been weight-tested and can hold up to 1,000 kilograms (705 to 2,200 pounds) depending on the part, although the recommended weight limit for a rider is 120 kilograms (about 264 pounds).

Each of its parts has also survived the brine test, indicating that they’re strong against corrosion and rust, so your Smart EV should stay shiny for a long while. The tires should also be able to hold up under good road conditions, since they’re a durable 31.5 centimeters (almost 12.5 inches) wide.

These compact electric motorcycles have already been on the market for a few months, and the demand for them is already quite high. At this time, though, interested customers can only order a Smart EV directly from Blaze, where they retail for about 128,000 yen (about US$1,150).

However, due to customer demand, they’re currently recruiting other dealers to sell their product across the country. This process has only just begun, so it might take a while for these motorcycles to be available at stores, but if you’re planning a trip to Japan at the end of the year, you might be able to find one when you get here.

It’s also small enough and light enough to check in as baggage on an airplane without excess fees, so why not make it a travel companion to the fancy Japanese washlet you will inevitably buy?

Source, images: ValuePress

Häagen-Dazs ice cream sandwich milkshakes now available at pop-up cafe in Tokyo【Taste Test】

Häagen-Dazs fans will want to check out this limited-time-only cafe before it’s gone at the end of the month!

Häagen-Dazs has proven their commitment to providing us with quality ice cream by constantly releasing premium, fancy, limited-edition flavors like gold-dusted Matcha Opera ice cream. Their delicious flavors are sold as cups, ice cream bars, and, my personal favorite, Crispy Sandwiches.

In this summer heat, though, eating an ice cream sandwich is going to be a messy experience. Luckily, right now we can get the same delicious flavors in a Crispy Sandwich-flavored milkshake at the newly opened Häagen-Dazs Crispy Sandwich Beach Cafe, which is now open in montoak, a cafe and lounge in Omotesando, Tokyo!

They’re offering three delightful flavors: Caramel Classic, Hojicha Wa no Ka, and Triple Berry Rare Cheese, and they cost 700 to 800 yen each (US$6.29-$7.19). Each shake is blended with real Crispy Sandwiches, and topped with half of a Crispy Sandwich, some whipped cream, and other flavor specific-toppings, which means you’re going to get more than enough Häagen-Dazs from one of these babies.

We tried out the Hojicha Wa no Ka, flavored with roasted green tea, first. It’s made with black sugar and topped with whipped cream, red beans, and a Hojicha Wa no Ka Crispy Sandwich, which gives it distinctly Japanese nuances. With each sip through the thick straw, the earthy aroma of roasted green tea fills your mouth, but just when you think that’s the end of it, a refreshing sweetness bursts forth for a lip-smackingly tasty flavor.

If you mix in a little bit of the whipped cream and read beans as you go, it tastes just like a Japanese sweet served with green tea. Plus, the pieces of the wafers that have melted into the shake give an extra nice touch to an already complex flavor. You won’t be able to stop drinking this one!

The Caramel Classic, with its crunchy topping of caramel nuts, is a very satisfying drink. It’s not too sweet, and has a hint of bitterness to it, which gives it a very mature flavor. It seems like something a rich lady would be drinking as she walks her perfectly coiffed toy poodle around Omotesando.

The Triple Berry Rare Cheese is a very summery milkshake. The berries provide a nice sweet and sour aroma to the shake, while the pink color gives it a very bright appearance. With strawberries mixed in along with a bit of jam, this shake has an undeniable fruitiness that berry fans will love.

These shakes are big. You’ll want to bring a hearty appetite with you when you stop by this stall, so we don’t recommend that you come on a full stomach.

If you want a little bit more than a milkshake, though, they also have Crispy Sandwich Shake Parfaits, but they’re limited to just 100 per day, so if you want to try one, you should get there early. They are priced at 1,296 yen each ($11.65).

Though this pop-up stand will only be open until July 29, you can still enjoy at least one of the flavors after it closes. The Hojicha Wa no Ka Crispy Sandwich is now available in supermarkets and convenience stores nationwide, so if you really just can’t live without more of that roasted green tea flavor, you’re in luck.

Cafe Information
Häagen-Dazs Crispy Sand Beach Cafe / ハーゲンダッツ クリスピーサンド ビーチカフェ
Address: montoak, Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Jingu-Mae 6-1-9
Take-out hours: 11:00 a.m. to 7 p.m. (last order 7 p.m.)
Eat-in hours: 11:00 a.m. to 10 p.m. (last order 9:30 p.m.)
montoak’s hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. (Mon-Thur, Sun); 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. (Fri-Sat, the day before a holiday)
Website (Japanese only)

Top/Featured Image ©SoraNews24
Insert Images: ©SoraNews24, PR Times