Friday, January 16, 2015

New Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo at Sunshine City in Ikebukuro

Japan's largest Pokemon Center has opened in the Sunshine City Mall in Ikebukuro in early December 2014.  It is called the Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo so even the name makes it sound huge.  This store has more giant Pokemon statues inside and it looks like there is plenty of merchandise to purchase.  
Image used via Creative Commons license from MIKI
I've visited the previous Pokemon Center and will happily pay this one a visit as has more to browse and see.  If you haven't been keeping up on Pokemon, it is a franchise that started with a black and white video game for the original Gameboy, and how it has over a dozen movies, a trading card game, over a half-dozen anime series, and the video games are still going strong.  If you need a free primer on Pokemon, you can also download a free game / guide from iTunes called Camp Pokemon.  http://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/camp-pokemon/id919218502 
Pikachu riding Charizard in large scale.  Used under the Creative Commons License from Ryo Fujita.
Click here for my 2015 visit to Ikebukuro and the Pokemon Store
Ikebukuro is sure becoming a major anime / character goods hub as it has the Evangelion Store, the Shonen Jump Theme Park at Sunshine City, the main Animate Store, a Gamers, and even the toy floors at the Bic Camera, Kotobukiya Books, etc.  Even a Kit Kat store is in the area.  Based on the blog posts and videos, it was packed on its grand opening with two hour waits.
Pokemon plushies.  You can find almost anything that is Pokemon related from clothes, jewellry, to keychains, toys, and even branded snacks.
More Pokemon keychsins, cell charms, etc.

 Pokémon Center MEGA TOKYO

Opening Hours 10:00a.m. - 8:00p.m.
Address Sunshine City alpa 2F
3-1-2 Higashi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo, 170-6002
Telephone 03-5927-9290
Looking over Ikebukuro from Sunshine City observation deck.   Used under the Creative Commons License from Ryo Fujita.
If you go out of your way to visit Ikebukuro, do visit the other anime attractions out here.  In addition, there is the Sunshine City Aquarium, and the observation deck (admission fee) there too.


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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Japanese Stationary / Pens / Mechanical Pencils

Japan has a very long tradition for creating quality stationary products.  They make high-quality papers, pens, pencils, scissors, other crafting / scrapbooking supplies, etc.  You think of either German or Japanese products as being the high end in many cases.  If you open your office supply cabinet you will also notice there are many Japanese brands that you may not have paid attention to either.  Brands like Pilot, Uni-ball, Copic, Pentel, Zebra, etc., are all Japanese.  Who doesn't like a good quality pen or mechanical pencil to boot!

Japanese gel ink pens
Frixion pens with erasable ink.  The ink is erased as it is heat sensitive and the rubbery eraser tips on these pens generate enough heat to vanish the ink.  They have sets of multi-colour pens and even 2 or 3 color pens.
Cool anime / souvenir themed pens and pencils
Decorative tape dispensers on the left, cool folding mini-scissors in the middle, and the very popular stamp sets on the right
Dragonquest slime paper weights, Cup Noodle note pad that folds into a cup of noodle, and an Evangelion notepad
Harinacs stapleless stapler that uses pressure bonding. I have another stapleless stapler that punches a hole in the sheets and folds a paper flap, but this one leaves no holes.  I gotta get one of these next time I'm over there.
A visit to a stationary specialty store like Ito Ya in Ginza or the stationary department at a Tokyu Hands are a must on any visit to Tokyo.  In recent years, manufacturers have developed erasers that have a multitude of sharp corners for erasing, or even truly erasable ink (Frixion brand from Pilot).  The Japanese also developed decorative tapes for scrapbooking or cards, mechanical pencils that rotate the pencil lead so it is always drawing an even line, the first gel inks, and the non-rubber eraser.  I myself like their stapleless staplers which are good for bonding a few sheets of paper together without metal staples sticking out.


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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Nissin Instant Curry Meshi (Rice Meals)

Nissin in Japan makes more than instant ramen.  They also have frozen fresh ramen and they also make instant curry meals (curry meshi).  These were introduced a few years back and I just had to try them as I I like their instant ramen so how could I pass up on trying their curry rice.  They have a pile of different flavours and I ordered a couple of types then ate them when I needed a snack in between meals.  https://www.nissin.com/jp/products/brands/currymeshi/  In terms of calorie counts the cup noodle curry rice is similar to the cup noodle curry flavour (about 350 calories), with the second curry below having about 150 extra calories.

Nissin Instant Cup Noodle Curry Meshi
I wanted to try this one first as I really like their Curry Cup Noodle (see my post on it) and wanted to see if this curry flavour was similar to the one I was familiar with.  Unlike regular cup noodles where you just add boiling water and wait 3 minutes, these curried rice meals are prepared with cold water and a microwave.  It isn't quite as convenient as adding boiling water, but I think the dehydrated rice needs more heat to rehydrate it properly.  Nuking times depend on the power of your microwave and I think I had to cook mine for 4 to 5 minutes if my memory serves me right.  The rice was firm, and some bits were a little chewy, but not too bad for instant.  The curry flavour was exactly what I expected in a mild curry and very tasty.  I would definitely have these again if I had the opportunity. 
These come in boxes with a plastic liner on the inside and a nifty carboard box sleeve on the outside.  Just like their cup noodles, the packaging is innovative and not just a styrofoam container which cannot be microwaved anyways .
The directions.
You peel back a corner to add cold water.  You can see there are bits of dehydrated meat, potato, green onions, and curry powder on top of the rice.
Water has been added to the internal fill line.  Close the lid again so it doesn't spray everywhere when you microwave it.
After nuking you get a well mixed curry.  Stir some more and add in an oil pack to complete the texture.  The oil pack was taped to the top of the lid.


Nissin Instant Beef Curry Meshi
This is more of a rich beef curry flavour and was quite different from the cup noodle curry meshi that I had above.  I like both, but this is more of a regular spicy curry and there are even spicier editions available.  If I order more of these, I would probably order this for curry rice and leave the other curry flavour as a curry ramen which I also do really like.
Nissin Instant Beef Flavoured Curry Rice
Directions again.
Very attractive packaging and I like the yellow rice kernal logo.
You can see the potatos and other ingredients inside.  Again you add water to the internal fill line and then nuke it.
It was quite a bit messier after microwaving then the other cup noodle, but you can see the curry sauce.  Mix to make a nice thick curry.  Very satisfying and filling.

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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Nissin Craftsman / Artisan Instant Ramen Bowls

Nissin has been producing a line of instant ramen bowls in their Craftsman / Artisan (職人) lineup for awhile now.  These ramen are pretty good and use a dried type of instant noodle instead of deep fried.  The noodles remind me of their Raoh deluxe line of instant ramen which also do not fry the noodles. The noodles don't rehydrate as quickly as the fried ones.  The noodles in these are definitely firmer than what is found in regular instant ramen noodles. The amount of fat in these are slightly lower than in their regular cup noodles.  At the time of writing, they had eight kinds of ramen under this brand ( https://www.nissin.com/jp/products/brands/menshokunin ) that range from simple soy to fancy tonkotsu pork broth.  I tried two flavours of the noodles and thoroughly enjoyed eating both of them.
Gundam approves of king-sized chickin ramen cups!

Nission Craftsman Shio Ramen
This is a salt flavour ramen in a chicken / pork soup base that was tasty in that savoury chicken way.  Add your ingredients followed by hot water and wait four minutes to eat a bowl of noodles.
Chicken flavour seems to be indicated by green packaging fairly often, but don't use that as a guide!.
There is a block of ramen noodles, a liquid sausce packet, some freeze dried vegetables (including cabbage, carrot, corn, bok choy, sesame), and a dried seasoning packet.
The finished soup and noodles ready to eat. Remember this is shio ramen so it has a salt in it to bring out the flavours!
Nissin Craftsman Soy Ramen
This is your more regular type of soy flavoured ramen.  It is a well loved taste that is also a staple flavour for both regular and instant ramen.  This brand has a nicely balanced soup base that I drank up afterwards. 
Soy ramen ramen bowl.
Closeup of the instant ramen.  Note that they are not quite as twisting as the deep fried ramen is usually found.
Dried ingredient pack (includes green onion, naruto, bamboo shoots), a piece of dried seaweed that you add in last, and a liquid soup base.  Again, add the ingredients followed by boiling water and wait for four minutes.
The darker soy based soup in the ready to eat ramen bowl!

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