The Best Japanese Junk Food of 2012

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.

Fast 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.

Burger King

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.

Black Burger

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.

Pumpkin Burger

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!

Candy

Coffee Gum

Photo by Kyle McLain

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?

Soda

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.

Espressoda

Espressoda

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

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

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

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

Pepsi White

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!

  • http://twitter.com/JACKTHEDANIELS ジャック (Jack)

    Japan does have some interesting ideas, I do actually wanna taste the kuro burger and the bacon potato fritter… It leaves me wondering what more crazy/unhealthy food combos they will come up with ;P

  • Lizzy

    I took a trip to Japan right after I finished watching the anime Tiger & Bunny. Pepsi Nex was everywhere, I didn’t even really like the soda but I couldn’t stop buying it! I wish I kept a full bottle because I now want to cosplay as blue rose.

  • piderman

    The fritter looks really nice. The burger, not so much. Just a bit too black. Now if it’d been blue… :p

  • piderman

    Nothing with sesame? I’m disappointed.

  • Tora.Silver

    OH MY GOODNESS, that soda in the banner is so KAWAII~

  • http://japan-australia.blogspot.com/ Japan Australia

    That’s one of the great things about Japan there is always a lot of variety and new and interesting products coming into the market. Some of them are actually really good!

  • Mandarina

    I’d definitely try the Pepsi White!

  • Jesse

    What no KFC double down?

  • Tamu

    I highly doubt that Japan will make anything more unhealthy than America food already is. I mean, the Double Down??

  • http://mistersanity.blogspot.com Jonadab

    Pepsi White sounds good enough to potentially fly outside Japan. The rest, not so much.

  • tetsu66

    Unless you’re eating washoku, food is surprisingly quite unhealthy here in Japan…
    Or it sure seems that way anyway.

  • http://www.tofugu.com/ Hashi

    The Double Down, as crazy as it is, isn’t exclusive to Japan. You can get it in the good ol’ US of A too!

  • DAVIDPD

    WHITE PEPSI!!! YES!

  • Federale

    I like the super great carbonated apple juice from northern Japan.

  • MeiMei

    The bacon potato fritter really looks delicious and unhealthy but I would still love to try it. I think it will be very good to try with the Pepsi White. :D

  • http://twitter.com/SactoMan81 Raymond Chuang

    I believe that the Double Down was invented in the USA. I’d like to know why it ended up in Japan, of all places!

  • Kashii-chan

    I saw the salty watermelon Pepsi in one of the numerous vending machines in town. I personally like it a lot. It did lack a salty taste like the name suggests but that’s a good thing in my opinion.