Sunday, December 20, 2015

Nissin Halloween Cup Noodle Pumpkin Potage and Donbei Black Curry Udon Review

When I heard about the Nissin Halloween limited edition instant noodle releases, I went looking and found a few of them at Candysan, a store I've used many times before.  While this post is a little late as there was a bit of a mixup and I also have to find the time to actually eat the noodles and enjoy them.  Candysan sent me another type of instant curry udon bowl by mistake, but after I wrote to them, they graciously gave me a credit and sent me their last black curry bowl (as it is in limited supply) on their dime.  Thanks, Candysan!  That was pretty decent customer service after my initial disappointment.  Anyhow, the extra shipping time involved delayed the noodle eating and I just got busy too, but I finally ate the noodles!

Nissin Halloween Cup Noodle Pumpkin Potage
The cup is very black with orange eyes, kind of like a reverse pumpkin.  The art on the cup stands out pretty good and you really can miss it.  Kind of scary looking, but it was a pretty tasty cup of noodles in the end.
There is great darkness on the outside of this cup of noodle.
It is your regular sized cup noodle and this pumpkin / sweet potato / squash type flavour is actually pretty popular in Japan from what I can tell as there are many varieties of snacks, candy, and chips with these types of flavouring.  I was wondering how good this could be myself and I was pleasantly surprised when I tried it.
When I opened the lid, a strong smell of squash / pumpkin wafted out and it was a premonition about the great pumpkin surprise in store for me.  There were big pieces of pumpkin and blocks of cheddar cheese inside the cup.  It kind of reminded me a bit of the Vegeta Cup Noodle with all of the veggies in it (I really liked that too).   
There were blocks of cheese, pumpkin, carrots, and cabbage inside.
 I added the boiling water and waited three minutes.  The vegetables rehydrated, the cheese melted, and I gave the noodles a good stir.  The soup was thickened from the cheese which also added a rich cheese flavour to the pumpkin.  It was more your savoury veggie broth type soup, but it was actually really good.  I only ordered one cup, but a second cup would not have been unwelcome.
All in all, the Pumpkin Potage was quite tasty and a nice change from the regular flavours.

Nissin Donbei Black Curry Udon 
This was the instant noodle bowl I wanted to try the most out of the two flavours here.  Curry is usually pretty darn good in Japanese instant ramen.  One of my favourites is still the regular Nissin Curry Cup Noodle.  The noodle bowl was decorated in the typical style for their Donbei brand, but utilized black and grey to good effect.
This black curry needs a black cat to go with it.  My cat gave it a good sniff so it is approved for consumption.
In case you didn't realize it was a Halloween special, they put a graphic of a witch stirring a big cauldron of curry sauce on the lid.  If a witch makes stuff this good, I'm buying more.
Nice art on the lid that shows the dark brown curry roux.
Ingredients and directions.
The cover art from above.
When I opened the lid, I found two packets.
Opening the noodle bowl reveal a disk of udon noodles (it is a flat udon noodle not a ramen noodle for Donbei) with two sachets.  One contains the curry roux powder, and the other contained freeze dried meat, potato, negi leeks, and carrots.  There are lots of ingredients as usual.  I then added the boiling water to the fill line and gave it a wait for four minutes.
All rehydrated, with the soup thickening up from the roux.
I then gave the noodles a bit of a stir to thoroughly mix the roux in.  The delightful aroma from the soup filled the kitchen and it was very much a Japanese style curry from the smell.  The soup was a dark brown and it thickened up a bit like it should.  The potato pieces were big and there were little pieces of meat scatter throughout.  My first mouthful of udon confirmed that it was indeed tasty with a rich curry flavour.  This bowl of noodles was definitely two thumbs up!

More Japanese Pop Culture and Ramen Posts here.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Starbucks Japan and Coffee Chain Food

I'm pretty impressed with the food offerings from the coffee chains in Japan.  They always seem to be a step or two ahead of what we get at home here.  They seem to have higher quality food products and it looks tasty!  Starbucks is always pretty good for food now, even in Canada, but they still have things in Japan that would be awesome to have here.
Their 2015 spring strawberry and fruit frappuccino.  Look at all the fruit on top. Not just flavouring.
They have cake and quiche in store along with a variety of sandwiches.
More quiche and some very tasty looking sandwiches.
Caramel frappuccino.
Their competitors do pretty good, if you can find one that is smoke free (some are, especially the ones in malls).  Starbucks is always smoke free, so that is great.  This is Tully's coffee, one of their big competitors.
This french toast they are offering looks good too!  My stomach is never big enough during a visit to Japan to try everything.
This is another chain called Excelsior.  Again, they had a very nice looking breakfast sandwich with freshly cooked egg.  I had it and it was yummy.
Their breakfast sets with coffee.  Again, lots of tasty looking options.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

A Morning In Ikkebukuro (Animate Store, Pokemon Store, Kit Kats, and Evangelion Store)

On a rainy morning, this spring, I went down to Ikebukuro to visit the otaku highlights of the area.  Ikebukuro Station is one of the busiest stations in Tokyo and I had stayed in the area the last time I visited Japan a few years ago.  East of the station is where most of the action is.  There is a bustling entertainment and shopping district there with the eastern edge of it anchored by the Sunshine City Mall.  In between are huge expressways you walk under and busy pedestrian streets full of arcades, shops and restaurants.

Some of my previous blog posts about Ikebukuro are here:
On this trip I went to visit the Animate HQ again, the new Kit Kat store I posted about already, the new Evangelion Store, and the new Pokemon Mega Center.  I also visited the Tokyu Hands that is on the way to Sunshine City, where Namja Town, the Pokemon Center, and Shonen Jump World are.  Most of the stuff was indoors so I didn't get too wet, but damp is still damp.  It was an awesome visit in the end as there was just so much stuff to see and buy.  I had a full backpack full of merchandise by the time I was done with shopping for everything from plastic figurines, plushies, books, to chocolate.

My first stop was inside the train station itself in the basement food floor of the SEIBU department store.  I got in a line to get their gourmet Kit Kats in the fruit flavours along with some other specialties.  See the link above for more details.  Exiting from the fabulous food floor, I then went across the street from the south end of the SEIBU to the Lotteria across the street.
SEIBU Deptarment Store.  Looking NW.  To the north of this building is the PARCO where the Evangelion Store is.
They had the basement all themed up for an anime.  This location is often set to an anime theme at this location.  So you can grab a burger and enjoy the ambiance.
Idolmaster Cinderella Girls theme.
Even the tables have anime designs on them.
They show little video snippets too, to entertain you while you eat.
P Parco Annex where the Evangelion Store is now.
After getting the Kit Kats shortly after the store opened, I went to the P'Parco Annex just north of the Seibu and found it didn't open until 11.  I went and killed some time at a Bic Camera in the area, looking at electronics and their whole floor of toys and models.
Poster at the train station about the Evangelion Store.
Gundam models.
Kantai Collection.  This was one of the bigger items being advertised and promoted while I was in Tokyo.
I went into the Parco and up to the Evangelion Store.  It isn't nearly as big as the old store in Harajuku, but it is of a decent size.  There is plenty of Evangelion merchandise and exclusives to the shop.
It is like a large section inside the store which is made up of a whole bunch of mainly fashion shops.
Evangelion merchandise.
Lots of cool looking Evangelion themed mugs and cups.
Nice looking model of EVA 01.
I spent a bit of time there and bought a few things, but then headed off to the Animate main store also in the area.  There are many places to eat and drink around here and it is a lively area that the Durarara anime spotlighted.
Some interesting shop fronts.
Animate main store!   Many floors of anime merchandise goodness.  I like this store a lot.
Magazine section on the main floor.
All sort of souvenir snacks that are branded by Love Live and other shows on the main floor.
Fate / Stay Night.
Kancolle stuff.
I love this cooking anime and who doesn't like Yuki from Haruhi.
Stacks of manga magazines.
More manga volumes.
Then back out on the main street heading over to Sunshine City.
I stopped in at the Tokyu Hands and saw a great Gudetama goods section.  Who doesn't like the lazy egg?  Japan is a little odd for having mascots that get eaten.
I got one of the little egg / with bacon blanket danglers.  Very Cute.
All kinds of colorful pens as they have tons of craft and stationary stuff.  Lots of housewares.  You can shop for hours and hours in this place.
Copic ink markers for manga and more.  Way cheaper in Japan than over here, but still not cheap.
Cherry blossoms and Mt. Fuji for your window.
They have some deluxe capsule toy machines too.
Capsule machines.
Chicken Ramen survival rations.  These stay good up to two years.
Regular cup noodle survival rations.  Two cup noodles in each can.  Quite cool.
Japanese hardtack type biscuits for emergencies.  You've seen this in that High School Zombie anime.
Finally, I headed off to Sunshine City, just a quick trip down through the underground passage that is close to the Tokyu Hands. The Pokemon Store is bigger than the old one and worth a visit if you love Pokemon.
Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo
Giant Pokeball console thingy greets you at the entrance.
Giant Charizard and life size Pikachu
Raichu stuffies.
Pikachu cosplay stuff and hats.
8 bit Pokemon t-shirts and stuff.
Another giant pokemon model.
Lots of stuffies.
Pokemon toys.
Mewtoo and I forget...
They have a bank of just Pokemon capsule machines.  Some of which are pretty unique.
Pokemon movie diorama
Side of the store.
Another side of the store.
Shonen Jump J-World Theme Park.
Entrance to the park.
Namja Town is right next to it.
I was hungry by now and stopped for sushi at this restaurant on the restaurant floor of the mall.  They're pretty good.
The original Animate shop on Otome Road right across the big street from Sunshine City.  Only cosplay stuff and event space there now.
Some of the famous freeway flyovers that are always being photographed in the area.
I was looking for the limited edition KFC potato chips in every konbini I passed.  There are a lot of different chips.
Movie t heaters.
Sanrio Gift Gate for your Hello Kitty needs!
Lots of cup noodles!!! Curry is one of my favourites.
Lots of chocolates too in the konbini.
Finally, at this 7-11 I found the object of my potato chip quest.
The fabled KFC potato chips.
Back at the station to head back to the hotel.
The KFC Chips up close.  I grabbed three bags to give to friends and to eat.  They were good, but didn't taste like KFC to me.  Still, they were a nice find.

That's all for now.  Hope you enjoyed the pictures.

More Japanese / Tokyo Pop Culture Posts.