Monday, May 21, 2018

100 Hours Curry Shop, European Curry Cup Noodle

This is a limited edition curry cup noodle made by Sapporo Ichiban under the supervision of the 100 Hours Curry Shop.  The rich, curry soup stock is made in a European style with a dark roux using their spices, pork, beef, and vegetables.  100 Hours won the Kanda Curry Grand Prix curry festival competition in 2014 and again in 2016 so the restaurant has some bragging rights.  This V2 winner cup was released in January of 2018.
Front of the cup.
Going to a festival of curry restaurants actually sounds pretty appealing to me as there would be so much delicious curry to sample.  Without going to Tokyo for this festival, or visiting the restaurant, tasting this cup noodle is the next best thing. Link to Kanda Curry Festival.
A spice packet was glued to the lid of the cup.
The lid of the cup.  The big red letters proclaim this to be the V2 Winner for 100 Hours.  Note the victory laurel wreath around the rim of the cup.
Closeup of the front of the cup.
The colors used in the packaging of this cup is kind of interesting.  There is plenty of gold or yellow to indicate something deluxe or a winner.  The base colour is a conservative brown to indicate earthy or solidness and the darkness of the curry roux.  The mix of fonts and text made this a pretty busy looking package.  Even with the information overload, the photo of the curry noodles and the carrots and green onions in the dark roux does stand out, so you know what you are getting. 
Another view of the front.
Happy winners of the Kanda Grand Prix.
Information about 100 Hours restaurant.
Ingredients and nutritional information.
Inside the cup.
There was a good bit of curry roux mix, that was broken up into smaller bits so they would dissolve easier.  Mixed in were bits of green onion and dehydrated carrot.  You can see that the noodles are a nice golden colour and are quite wide.
Closeup of the dried ingredients.
Added the extra spice to jazz up the broth.
I added the boiling water to the fill line for the cup and let the ingredients and noodles rehydrate.  With curry noodles you have to really stir the noodles and soup to make sure all the curry powder is dissolved properly.  There was a good curry smell that came from the soup, but it wasn't as strong as I expected.
The rehydrated noodles.
The curry broth in this noodle cup was quite tasty.  I was surprised that the broth was thinner than I expected, but it went very well with the noodles.  I'd say that this curry had a more savory flavour profile with a light heat to it.  The noodles were nice and chewy, but I did wish there were some more green onions and carrot present.  Overall, this was a pretty good cup of noodle and I got to experience a little about what a winning curry could taste like.
Closeup of the noodles.

More Ramen Posts and Japanese Pop Culture.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Yurucamp Acrylic Figure Dioramas and Curry Noodle

Yurucamp or Laid Back Camp is an anime that has created minor phenomenon in outdoor camping cuteness while looking at Mt. Fuji.  The original manga has a 12 episode anime that has increased the number of people doing winter camping in Japan.  These camping pilgrimages to the sites the characters went to in the anime have been around since the manga was out, but the anime has boosted the popularity.  Camp grounds that were dead in the winter now have many visitors.

I really like the anime as the female characters are pretty fun and all kind of down to earth.  They all like the outdoors and just want to camp and eat yummy food.  It is a slice of life drama with camp grounds.  I also learned a bit about camping in Japan too.  If you don't want to camp after watching it, I'd be surprised.

The show is streaming on Crunchyroll and you can watch all of episode 1 on Youtube on the Crunchyroll channel.  Episode 1 is where Nadeshiko Kagamihara, the bubbly pink hair girl meets Rin Shima, the serious camping girl with the blue hair in a bun.  Most people are hooked by the end of this episode and its famous curry cup of noodle scene.

The nearest I'll come to a camping pilgrimage is to own these cute little acrylic dioramas of two of the main stars in the show and have a curry cup noodle.  The dioramas are pretty cool as they have 3 layers of depth and the curry noodle is of course delicious. 
Rin and Nadeshiko
Assembled dioramas.
Nadesiko with Mt. Fuji and a camp stove.
The manga for scale.
To celebrate the series I broke out my camp stove to boil some water.  These little stoves are pretty good for boiling water, but you have to watch the wind and their stability.  Still, a great way to have a cup of hot coffee or tea, and a dehydrated meal or cup of noodle.
Small pot, gas bottle, and burner.
Boiling water.
Below is a Curry Cup Noodle.  These are pretty standard in Japan and you can get them in any convenience store.  They taste like real curry too because they are real curry.
Front of curry cup.
Noodles and curry powder plus dehydrated potatoes.
After adding water and waiting 3 minutes, you get this.  You need to stir thoroughly to mix in the powder and thicken the soup up.
The finished product.  Quite a hearty little dish.  One isn't going to do for dinner though, so you'll need to supplement.
Below are a couple of videos from Youtube.  One shows a camping pilgrimmage, the other is an outdoor equipment manufacturer using the show to highlight their products.  Looks like everyone wins on this.

More Japanese Pop Culture Posts

Monday, April 23, 2018

Ginza and the Amazing Ginza Six Mall

Ginza, like most other parts of Tokyo is always undergoing change.  In the last couple of years, a few famous landmarks have been demolished and new ones built.  A new luxury mall, Ginza Six has opened up.  Ginza Place has replaced the building with the big Sapporo Beer sign on the top that was diagonally across from Ginza Wako at Ginza's central intersection.  Ginza is a luxury shopping district, which suits it as its name means "Silver Mint" where money used to be minted.

Even if you don't plan on spending a pile of money here, the district is worth visiting even just to window shop for a bit.  Not all stores sell luxury goods like super expensive jewelry, fashions, or handbags either.  Stores for more modest budgets include Itoya for stationary of all kinds, the Uniqlo flagship store, Tokyu Plaza, the Sony showroom, the Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan radio shop (for regional Japanese products), the Muji flagship store, various bookstores, etc.
Ginza Wako and the central intersection of Ginza.
Kabuki Theatre
Ricoh Building at night.
Just south of Ginza Wako is Ginza Six.  If you look above the goldish part of the building in this picture, you will see a level with restaurants where there is balcony seating that overlooks the street for a number of restaurants.
Fancy Christmas bell when I was there in December.
Inside the impressive atrium.
Ginza Six is a really nice mall, with an great atrium area that has some awesome looking white and red pumpkin decorations by Yayoi Kusama.  There are like over 240 luxury brands represented in this mall.  Other than window shopping, there are also art exhibits, a small museum, and a pretty multi-story digital waterfall.  However, I was there to check out the rooftop garden, the dining floor on the same level as the really impressive Tsutaya Books store.  There is a food floor in the basement and even lower down is an entire Kabuki theatre which is only open for shows unfortunately.  This mall is posh.
Tsutaya Books
This is a really nice bookstore.  Lots of light, open spaces, woodwork, well curated book selection, and beautifully arranged and decorated.  I really liked this store and bought a number of photo and Japanese culture books here.  Even got a Godzilla retrospective showing all of the Godzillas to date.  Nice Murakami art books too.  The restaurants on this level share a common dining area and you can even get seating out on a narrow balcony area that overlooks the street.  All of the restaurants share one common menu that allows you to order from each of them (more than a half dozen establishments here).  There is also a good Starbucks here.
Impressive Japanese Starbucks baked goods.
More Starbucks baked goods.  Note the matcha cake.
Tsutaya also had some interesting jewelry on display.  This is a crown or head dress I think.
Great looking Star Wars models.
Replica light saber.
Finally, I went up to the roof top of Ginza Six which has a garden and walk that goes completely around the building giving you a 360 view of Ginza from up high.  It is also a relaxing place to take a break.  There is a beautiful reflecting pond, seating, and even a living wall.  I think it is worth visiting Ginza Six just to visit the garden and have a walk around while taking in the views.
View over Ginza.
Garden and pool area.
Pool area.
View down to the street.
Small Shinto Shrine
Historical plaque.
Tokyo Skytree view.
After visiting Ginza Six I across the street to visit the Uniqlo flagship store.  This is a great store.  I like a lot of their fashions, and their T-Shirt floor is amazing in both decor and in the many shirts that are tie-ins to other media franchises.
The Uniqlo flagship store.
Front of Uniqlo
Lobby of Uniqlo
Ginza also lights up at night pretty good and the window displays are way more apparent.  I miss the Sapporo beer sign at the top of the old building that is now replaced by Ginza Place.
Old building with the Sapporo Beer sign on top and the Ricoh building to the right.
Ginza Place is a new building that houses the new Sony showroom and a Nissin automobile showroom.  There are some fancy dining establishments too, including a Kobe beef place.

Ginza Place replaces the old building with a very sleek and well designed bigger building.

Fancy exterior metal work.
Low the sakura flower man hole covers.

A fancy window display.
And now I'm onto baked goods again.  These are Famina Bakery products found at Familymart convenience stores.  All the konbini have pretty nice baked goods.  Probably as good if not better than your local supermarket back in North America.
Baked goods.
Donut anyone?  Goes with canned coffee!
My last stop in Ginza was at the Muji Flagship store.  Muji has some great clothes and housewares to that show their minimalist design aesthetic.  They also have a great selection of food and snacks.  This Muji also has a good cafe and bakery in it with lots of seating.  On the main level it is mainly gardening, a fresh vegetable shop, and they have their minimalist cabin on display.  This "Muji Hut" is like $27,000 USD and you can buy it from Muji for your rural property or your backyard getway.  On the second level is the rest of the Muji greatness.
Muji Hut
Muji Cafe food.
These freeze dried strawberries covered in green tea chocolate are sooo good.
Pumpkin chips.
Muji seafood crackers are really good too.

More travelogue posts here.