When it comes to Japanese food, we usually think about fancy or traditional food; cuisine that is steeped in centuries of tradition and requires years of training in order to make it correctly.
And then there’s Japanese junk food.
You may think that junk food is junk food, no matter where it’s made and sold, but the Japanese do it a little differently. Soda, candy, fast food and other junk food might not have been invented in Japan, but the Japanese have been able to put their own twist on these low-end foods.
A lot of these foods are only available seasonally or for some limited time so when they’re gone, they’re gone for good. Here’s a roundup of some of 2012′s most enticing, disgusting, weird, and delicious Japanese junk food.
Japan is a great place for fast food. Aside from Japanese-style street food that’s ready to go in a jiffy, there’s also home-grown Japanese fast food chains (which we’ve written about before) and American chains.
These American chains usually offer food in Japan that you won’t be able to find anywhere else.
KFC’s Bacon Potato Fritter
It’s pretty surprising that KFC Japan would offer a dish more American than its American counterpart, but then you haven’t seen the Bacon Potato Fritter. Full of all of the heart-stopping cholesterol-filled goodness that we Americans hold near and dear.
Domino’s Prestige Quattro
Pizza pricing is usually a race ot the bottom — get three medium pizzas for $15! Two large pizzas for $20! Add another pizza for $5!
But Domino Japan’s Prestige Quattro isn’t cheap. In fact, the gourmet pizza that has crab, shrimp, and Mangalitsa pork, is $50.
After a six year hiatus in Japan, Burger King has returned to the country with a vengeance. It seems like every other week I’m hearing about some new, novelty product from Burger King Japan that’s unavailable anywhere else.
Even though a black burger looks like it was left in the oven for too long, it’s only colored by bamboo charcoal and squid ink. Fortunately though, the flavor of neither of those are very prominent in the burger, so just close your eyes and imagine you’re eating a Whopper.
As we wrote about earlier, Halloween is quickly becoming an absurdly commercial holiday in Japan. To cash in on that, Burger King Japan released a burger with kabocha pumpkin slices. Nothing says Halloween like fast food!
This year, Suntory’s Boss Coffee celebrated its 20th anniversary by collaborating with various other Japanese companies, including Lotte, who created the unholy abomination that is Boss Special Coffee Gum. I thought gum was supposed to make your breath smell good?
In Japan, it seems like you can’t walk more than a block without passing handfuls of vending machines stocked with some of the most delicious and delectable sodas you’ve ever seen. The availability of these sodas means that it’s even more important to stand out among the crowd.
The linguistic genius at Suntory who came up with the portmanteau “Espressoda” should be given a raise, a corner office, and a bonus. Unfortunately, the beverage itself isn’t as genius as the name. Eryk from This Japanese Life reviewed it for us and gave us this verdict: “
The result is a kind of a totally unsweetened root beer . . . Not awful, but unpleasantly confusing. Would not drink again.”
Pepsi, more than other western soft drink companies, really seems to get the Japanese market. Instead of pushing things like Mountain Dew that do well in the US, Pepsi has adapted to Japan’s tastes and comes up with seasonal and novelty products.
Salty Watermelon Pepsi
Eryk from This Japanese Life also reveiwed this oddball summer selection from Pepsi for us in a guest post earlier this year. The verdict? “
[I]t’s a liquified watermelon Jolly Rancher with seltzer . . . Too sweet. Would not drink again.”
Pepsi Special helps you poop.
Well, kind of. It’s marketed as a fat-blocking soda but in reality, it’s chock-full of of dextrin, a soluble fiber. The theory is that you won’t gain any weight because all of the food you eat basically passes right through you. Bon appétit
The yet-to-be-released Pepsi White is a special winter variation of the cola. It’s white, has snow people on the label, and tastes like mandarin oranges, a seasonal favorite.
And that was just this year. Who knows what these Japanese alchemists have in store for us next year!