Monday, May 23, 2016

Tasting Nissin Big Cup Noodle Mexican Chili Cheese and Samurai Don Instant Kettle Rice with Tofu

I tried a couple of Nissin products from Japan in the last couple of weeks.  They were an instant noodle and a instant rice.  A friend of mine went to Japan and brought me back a limited edition cup noodle from Japan (all gone by summer of 2016 for sure).  She went and found the Nissin Big Cup Noodle Mexican Chili Cheese flavour easily at a 7-11 and even gave it to me in the original plastic bag (no change though!).

Big Cup Noodle Mexican Chili Cheese
I was wondering if it was like their tomato ramen and it has some similarities, but it definitely is chili-like in a good way.  I was pretty eager to try this cup noodle as flavour was New World different and it looked tasty. 

The cup is very attractive with a nice deep red color with bold yellow print and green lettering.  I like the picture of the Mexican wrestler on the cup who is about to drop kick you with the flavour of a beef chili bowl.  The lid has a photo that shows lots of ingredients and there is plenty of stuff inside.
When I first popped open the cup there was a strong waft of the chili spices - like crushed chiles, paprika, tomato powder, and peppers.  It was much like what chili should smell like and it was a promising start.  The poor cup had been bounced around a bit and only the bigger freeze dried ingredients had stayed on top of the noodle block though. 
The picture above shows the big blocks of meat and cheese blocks.  You have to love how the intricate patterns of windy noodles appear on the noodle blocks.  A dusting of the chili powder was on the noodles and I figured most of the veggies (cabbage, red bell peppers, and seasoning) had fallen underneath.  I poured in boiling water up to the fill line and settled back to wait three minutes for it to be ready.
Popping open the top you can see that the noodles and meat had rehydrated well and a nice chili aroma was in the air.  These noodles are like their curry noodles where the soup is thicker and you need to stir the noodles really well to make sure you mix in the seasonings at the bottom.  You can see that the cheese blocks melted down and as soon as you stir, they vanish into the soup to provide some rich background flavour. 

Tasting the noodles was like having a thinner version of a thick chili, but it is a soup and it was a very pleasant eating experience.  It wasn't too spicy and it is pretty much true you can mix instant noodles with a huge variety of flavours and ingredients and have something delicious.  I'm pretty sure that the cabbage might have been pickled or something, but it was all very nice mixed together.  While I don't think this is one of my absolute favourites, it is something I would definitely have again.

Samurai Don Instant Kettle Rice with Tofu
I've tried a couple of these instant rices before and they can make for a nice change of pace from a cup of noodle.  This particular instant box of rice is from their Donbei line (as in the udon noodle bowls) for the flavouring.  I figured this would be a nice savoury rice dish and I wasn't disappointed.
Unlike the cup noodles which come in a plasticized paper cup with a cool foam insulation on the outside that allows you to hold the cup without burning yourself, these instant rice boxes are a double layered plastic that also provides insulation for when being held.  The Donbei style logo and green color are similar to their fried tofu udon (which is really good) and it clearly shows that is is a rice dish from the pictures on the lid and the side of the box.
Unlike the instant noodles, instant rice is a little more complicated.  You need to put water up the the fill line and then figure out how long to microwave the rice to rehydrate it properly.  The cooking time at full power depends on the strength of your microwave.  I've always thought this was way less convenient than an instant noodle which can theoretically be eaten without hot water as the noodles are already cooked.
The inside of the rice box shows pieces of carrot, little cubes of chicken, green onion, shiitake mushrooms, some fish cake, and some pieces of deep fried tofu mixed in with the rice.  Deep fried tofu has a rich sweetish soy flavour and doesn't taste like tofu all that much, and it is a nice spongy food I quite like.  This rice box resemble a rice pilaf with a soy-based stew flavour.
The cooked rice looks quite nice and you can see all of the ingredients re-hydrated nicely.  I've found that the rice is mostly soft, but there are more al-dente type grains here and there.  All mixed together it is like a fried rice or a pilaf in appearance.
As you can see from the photo below, it looks quite good and it was a tasty dish to munch on.  I liked the tofu quite a bit and was sad to not have more after eating all of the pieces.

I'll still prefer cup noodles over these rice boxes, but as I said earlier, they make for a nice change.

More noodle reviews here.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Godzilla Coin Bank and Blind Box Figures From Japan

Yup.  I'm not exactly young anymore, but I still love Godzilla.  Anyone my age probably remembers going to the Saturday or Sunday matinee to watch a couple of B movies in a row.  There might have been a monster feature or some such thing to go with your pop and popcorn.  Anyhow, in Tokyo, you now even have the giant Godzilla head on top of the Toho Theatres in Shinjuku, which is very cool, and you can even Stay in the Godzilla themed suites at the Hotel Gracerie there.  I'm not in Tokyo, so I ended up ordering this very nifty electronic coin bank from Japan.

Electronic Godzilla Coin Bank
This is a pretty cool electronic coin bank.  The latest variant of the old cat in a box coin banks you can still buy in Japan.  I previously reviewed the cat coin bank here.  The coin bank comes in a blue box with a little diorama of the sea on top and takes two AA batteries.  The diorama shows a naval ship depth charging Godzilla and you can see the foam rising in the water where his head will surface.

You put a coin on the circular splash zone on the right and press down on it to activate the bank.  There is a red glow accompanied by one of four sound effects that range from the Godzilla theme music to Godzilla roaring.  He then comes out and grabs your money to drag it down into the ocean depths.  It's a fun little toy, and it'll help you save for retirement, but it isn't cheap either as $25 or so, a bit more than the cat coin banks built on a similar mechanism without lighting or sounds.

You can't miss that it is a Godzilla bank from the box.
Place a coin on the circular water area and press down.
Godzilla surfaces to make sure you save some money to rebuild after his next rampage.

Godzilla Blind Box Figures
Some older blind box type Godzilla figures.  These have been out of production for some time, but I did see some in the second hand sales cases over at the Akihabara Culture Zone building in Akihabara.  These were bought ages ago (seven or eight years right now) from an online shop and kind of hold a bit of a special place as they were some of the first things I bought from Japan.  They came in sets that shows a scene from particular Godzilla movies, and it is pretty cool to look at a set as Godzilla's suit changed in almost every movie, so he looks different every time.
Godzilla with Tokyo Tower and a building from Godzilla versus Space Godzilla.  These figures aren't very large, maybe about 5 or 6 cm in height at best, but they are very detailed for the size.
A few other Godzillas, including the original Godzilla at the left with a hapless fishing boat below him.
Just another slice of exported Japanese culture.
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Friday, April 22, 2016

Shibuya PARCO and the One Piece Mugiwara Store

The Shibuya PARCO is a little powerhouse mall of shopping and dining found in a couple of annexes in Shibuya.  Plenty of fashions here to browse and buy in the first 5 floors.  You have a variety of stores that run from the more mainstream to the eclectic. 
On the 6th floor there is anime related shopping, especially the dedicated One Piece Mugiwara Store, Namco character shops, a funky Village Vanguard store, and other shops.  Above this on floors 7 and 8 are some restaurants and even theme cafes.  If you're in Shibuya and wandering around, it is worth a visit after seeing Shibuya 109, Tower Records, the Tokyu Hands, Uniqlo, etc.  Also, if you are wandering around and see various bakeries, you might want to drop in as the pastries and cakes are usually scrumptious.
Life Size Luffy and Chopper
There is plenty of artwork and merchandise in this store.  If you're a One Piece fan, it is unlikely your wallet will escape unscathed.
The store isn't huge like a Pokemon Center, but is is a pretty good size.  It is nicely themed.
One Piece merchandise and food.
One Piece toys. Lots of blind boxes.  There are plenty of wanted posters and t-shirts to get too.
Try your luck with One Piece gashapon machines.
Yowamushi Pedal Store
This was a popup store, and I'm sure it'll be  different anime when you visit.
Nice roomy store full of merchandise.
A limited time My Melody Popup Cafe.  Again, the theme will be different when you visit.
The menu at the My Melody Cafe.  Looks cute and yummy.

More Tokyo Pop Culture Posts

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Limited Edition Love Live! Puccho Chews and Snow Halation Mini-figures

There are 3 types of wrapping, but the candy is the same.  There is one for the 3rd years, one for the second years, and one for the first years.  Figures are still random and don't match by year.
A couple of boxes arrived in the mail from Japan earlier this week.  In them were some Japanese snacks, including the limited edition Love Live! Puccho Chews, and a set of Snow Halation mini-figures.  So the Love Live! goods are still coming out despite the fact that the show and μ's has wrapped up.

I have a friend that plays the Love Live! Rhythm game on their iPad and it seems like the show is living on pretty strong with all of the fans playing that game too.  I'll be waiting for the Love Live sequel this summer too with an all new set of girls who want to be idols!

Love Live! Puccho Fruit Chews
Puccho are a type of yogurty chewy candy that is quite tasty and it has little gummy balls in it to provide some extra chewy bits.  Quite a tasty candy really.  This candy is availabe right now in April of 2016, but it won't last long like most limited release items in Japan ( had some).
The figures come in a little blind box attached to the end of the candy.
Well, a limited edition version of the candy came out that included one member of μ's with each pack of candy.  If you bought enough candy you would be able to get a whole set of μ's as cell phone charms.  Since μ's has nine members, you're going to be buying a lot of candy.  I bought 10 packs and had 3 duplicates so I didn't manage to snag a set.  However, friends were more than happy enough to take the extras off my hands as a side benefit.  Each charm is quite nicely made and very petite.
The characters you can get are shown on the back of the package as can be seen on the bottom left.

I got my favourite, Nozomi, so there was some happiness.  The candy is shown at the right and each piece comes wrapped in some foil.
Love Live Snow Halation Mini-figuresIf you collect figures, collecting something like Love Live is ridiculously expensive due to the number of members.  If you ordered gashapon at 300 yen a pop, it would still be 2700 yen for all nine members, if you pulled a unique one on every go.  The price only goes up with more deluxe figures, so you gotta pay to show your love.  This Show Halation is a complete set of characters with little mini-bases.  The bases are just a tad short so they don't properly support the figures, but they would still look pretty good in a display case.

The First Years.
The Second Years
The Third Years.
The two types of figures for a size comparison.
That's just a bit of Love Live! goodness, so I'm back to chewing on all that Puccho candy now.

My visit to the Love Live Shrine in Akihabara
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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Nissin Cup Noodle Vegeta Tonkotsu = More Veggies!

Last year I reviewed the Cup Noodle Vegeta with the Dragonball Z tie-in and I liked it quite a bit.  Well, it looks like they brought the veggie part back for another limited run with a tasty Tonkotsu (pork broth) and chunks of their dehydrated ground pork this year instead of the bacon.

The cup is very yellow with big bold print in bright colors and black for contrast against that very yellow background.  This cup of noodles is going to stand out on a shelf and ask you to buy it and eat it.  Best of all, its says you have 1/3 of your daily veggies in this cup of noodle (120 grams rehydrated).
It's very yellow!  You can see the 1/3 veggies on the lid of the cup.
Ingredients and product info on the back.
Popping open the lid you can see the heaping pile of dehydrated vegetables on top that is a little different from the last vegeta.  I love the amount of veggies here!  Best of all, no poorly rehydrated peas here!  The veggies consist of cabbage, carrots, corn, green onin and fried garlic.  The most plentiful veggie is cabbage, but cabbage is good for you :)  There are also pieces of pork and egg mixed in.
Loads of toppings for the noodles.  Yum.
Add boiling water up to the fill line and wait 3 minutes.
The noodles look great re-hydrated with delicious looking vegetables on top.
The soup was thicker than in their regular cup noodle, but not as thick as their curry noodle cups.  The broth was quite satisfying with a nice soy / pork flavour and a heavy hit of the cabbage.  The noodles were their regular cup noodle noodles - nothing unusual here.  All in all, it was very tasty, with a nice amount of veggies that packed in.

More Instant Ramen and Japanese Pop Culture Posts here.