Americans Taste Japanese Kit Kats and Immediately Fall In Love

 

When we saw the title to one of Buzzfeed‘s latest videos, we admit, we were a bit apprehensive. You can’t blame us though. Their new video “Americans Try Exotic Japanese Kit Kats” sounds awfully familiar to another video they made earlier this year titled “Americans Taste Exotic Asian Food.” Although exposure to Asian food is always appreciated, we were definitely left feeling uncomfortable with the reactions (or rather, overreactions) to Asian food. We basically watched four minutes of gagging and food spitting.

In their defense, these taste testers were given dishes such as chicken feet and developing duck embryo. Many commenters angrily pointed out that Buzzfeed chose Asia’s scariest dishes just to get a bad reaction.

Well, it seems Buzzfeed definitely listened to their viewers! Instead of scavenging Asia for the most unpleasant looking food, they instead turned to something many of us are familiar with and even love: Kit Kats.

Of course, these are no ordinary Kit Kats. We’re accustomed to a Kit Kat’s crunchy wafer covered in milk chocolate, but Japanese Kit Kats come in countless flavors. The taste testers tried everything from apple to tea-flavored Kit Kats.

Sure enough, the taste-testers had no hesitation when it came to trying the sweets. They reacted with absolute delight and proved that yes, Asian food and snacks can be delicious.

 

How School Lunch in America Compares to Japan, Philippines, India and Korea

 

Yesterday, Buzzfeed released a video called “School Lunches Around The World” which (as the title suggests) shows the average school lunch of children from various countries.  Most interesting of all was the difference in size, nutritional value and of course, content.

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 4.25.31 PMAccording to the video, a typical school lunch in the United States consists of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, some chips, a Go-gurt, an apple and some milk. Although many comments argued that a more typical American school lunch consists of a slice of pizza instead of a PB&J, we have to admit that this combination pretty much hits the mark when it comes to average lunches.

 

But does the video accurately show the average school lunch in Asian countries?

 

  Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 4.37.59 PMAlthough the image shows Japan’s lunch consisting of rice, mackerel and pickled spinach, it’s safe to assume that the vegetables and fish can be substituted with other ingredients. The main essence of a Japanese lunch is clear: food is made from scratch and made to be healthy. In fact, Japan’s child obesity rate, which is always among the world’s lowest, has declined for each of the past six years.        

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 4.49.14 PMFor the Philippines, the video shows rice and lechon kawali (pork) on a banana leaf rather than a plate. Admittedly, the banana leaf gave quite a few people a chuckle. Viewers recognized this as the tradition in many rural areas of the Philippines. The main issue some had with this image is that it did not feature seafood, a staple of Philippine cuisine. That aside, this simple combination is more than common. Unfortunately, a diet rich in meats like Lechon may be the reason for high rates of hypertension.          

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 5.13.50 PMIndia’s school lunch consists of rice and saag paneer (a classic Indian dish consisting of cooked spinach and fried paneer cheese with thickened cream or coconut milk) and dal makhani (another Indian staple consisting of whole black lentil and red kidney beans). The meal has become an average school lunch thanks to a massive school feeding program which aims to improve nutritional levels among children.          

 

 

  Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 1.55.19 PM Korea’s average school lunch consists of purple rice, soup, kimchi, radish and bulgogi (grilled, marinated beef). While some viewers commented that this plate is inaccurate because it should be flipped to have the rice closer to us, we can go ahead and agree with the plate. Anyone who has dined at a Korean restaurant is accustomed to the colorful meal and the numerous side dishes.  

As viewers watched this video, they couldn’t help but notice that the American meal lacked vegetables and more importantly, it contained quite a large amount of processed and sugary foods. Many have linked this to the high obesity rates in the U.S. which have more than doubled in adults and children since the 1970’s.    

 

Check out more school lunches with the complete video below.

Craving Asian Snacks From Your Childhood? Check Out This Homemade Choco Pie Recipe

 

When I was young, I spent most of my Saturdays at my grandmother’s house, secretly picking flowers off her houseplants, overfeeding her goldfish and eating up all her snacks that she would get from Chinatown. I say “all her snacks,” but my grandma really only had two snack foods in her cupboard — one was the family pack lemon puff biscuits, which always tasted dry and slightly artificial, and the other was Garden coconut wafers, which I knew had been laying around for a while. See, to save money, my grandma would buy the wafers in these big metal tins, which would take forever to finish. And for that reason, all the Garden wafers I’ve ever eaten at my grandmother’s house always tasted a bit stale. Still, I opted for the wafers over the biscuits.

I had a very specific method of eating the wafers. Because I was only allowed to have a few per visit, I would split the wafers into individual layers, so that it would seem like I had a whole lot more to eat than there actually was. As a kid, I would do this to all of my snacks, just to prolong my time with them. Sounds kind of silly, right?

But it’s funny how when I share these stories with my Asian friends, nearly all of them reciprocate with their own stories. My friend Timmy from Taiwan would freeze his lychee before eating them like little frozen popsicle balls. And my college classmate Grace, who grew up in Brooklyn, would take Haitai French Pie cookies, eat everything except the middle, and save the center apple pie filling for her last bites. “Always the last two bites because that was how the center fit perfectly into my mouth,” she says.

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Of course, my love of Asian snacks didn’t end as a child. As a college student, the Japanese fruit gummy candies — you know, the ones that come in apple, kiwi, strawberry and lychee — were my ultimate companions for late night studying. A small confession is that I would bring them into the library as well. (An even bigger confession is I’ve prob- ably brought a snack into every library I’ve ever been in — and the culprit snack was usually Asian. I know, I know, but it’s hard to walk away once you’re in the studying groove.) Anyway, any “library snacker” can tell you that the hard part is not sneaking the snacks into the library, but eating them in silence. That takes skill, especially when you’re eating those crunchy rice crackers.

Now as an adult, I still find myself watching TV and curled up next to a bag of prawn crackers or snacking on the latest red bean, green tea and sesame Pocky. To this day, Asian snacks remain a comfort food for me. So here’s my own attempt at recreating that magic with a homemade Choco Pie recipe.

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INGREDIENTS

Cake:
– 1 1/4 cup cake flour
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1 egg
– 1/3 cup milk
– 1/2 tsp baking powder
– splash of vanilla extract

Filling:
– 1/2 cup Marshmallow Fluff pr marshmallow creme

Chocolate Ganache Coating:
– 8 oz chocolate chips
– 1 cup heavy cream

 


 

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Make batter by mixing dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
3. Fill whoopie pie pan or muffin tin with 1/4 inch of batter.
4. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cakes turn golden brown on the underside. Let cool. (Tops may still look pale.)
5. Meanwhile, prepare ganache by bringing a cup of heavy cream to a boil.
6. Immediately remove from heat and pour on top of chocolate.
7. Whisk till smooth. Set aside.

 


 

TO ASSEMBLE
1. Cut tops off cake so that the surface is flat.
2. Spread about a teaspoon of marshmallow filling on the cake. Top it off with another cake, making sure the golden brown sides are exposed.
3. Place the assembled cakes on a wire rack with a sheet pan underneath to catch the ganache. Pour a small amount of ganache on top of each of the assembled cakes until the tops and sides are cov- ered. A spatula may be needed.
4. Let it set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving.

 

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– Story and photos by Christina Ng
This story was originally published in our Fall 2014 issue. Get your copy here


Study Shows South Koreans Consume More Coffee Than White Rice

 

South Koreans now drink more coffee than they eat their staple food rice, according to a survey conducted by the Korea Centers for Disease Control of 3,805 adults, according to The Chosun Ilbo.

According to the 2013 survey, the average Korean drinks coffee 12.3 times per week, followed by eating kimchi 11.8 times, multigrain rice 9.5 times, and white rice seven times per week.

The proportion of rice in Koreans’ daily diet has steadily declined over the past decade whereas coffee-related calorie intake has quadrupled due to the amount of artificial sweeteners in coffee, reported The Korea Herald.

Over the past few years, coffee culture has been going strong in South Korea. Earlier this year, Seoul was named as the city with the most Starbucks locations, beating New York City and Los Angeles. In addition, it was reported last month that Starbucks in Korea costs twice as much as it does in the U.S.

 

–STORY BY REERA YOO 
Image courtesy of The Korea Herald
This story was originally published on iamkoream.com 

 

 

Wait, MSG May Not Be So Bad After All?

 

If you think Miley Cyrus and Chris Brown have bad reputations, think again. They have nothing on the nearly 50-year-old bad reputation of MSG, otherwise known as monosodium glutamate. Interestingly enough, most people haven’t actually figured out why MSG has a bad rep.

Ask the average American about the substance and he or she will tell you that it’s bad for one’s health and should be avoided. But if you ask why, the conversation will probably be cut short. We’ve all heard the rumors of MSG being toxic, poisonous, cancerous, and may lead to fatigue and headaches, but where is the research behind it?

Turns out, this may have all been a myth.

 



There are multiple studies which actually point out that MSG is no more harmful to our health than plain salt. Sure, some people have adverse reactions to MSG and if it is not consumed in moderation, it will lead to discomfort (like most anything else), but as far as consumption is concerned, there’s not too much to worry about.

Reactions, a series which “uncovers the chemistry in everyday life,” recently did some research about MSG. The flavor enhancer was first discovered in 1908 by chemist Kikunae Ikeda. Turns out, the bad rumors began 60 years later when a scientist tried to pinpoint why he was experiencing discomfort after consuming Chinese food, naming his symptoms “Chinese restaurant syndrome.” Because of this, assumptions were made about MSG. Talk about jumping to conclusions.

Find out all the facts in the video below.

NEW STUDY: Instant Ramen Linked With Heart Disease Risk

 

A recent American study is targeting one beloved South Korean food as a factor in one’s cardiometabolic risk for diabetes, heart disease or stroke: instant ramen noodles.

The Associated Press reports that the study was based on South Korean surveys (the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey IV) that looked at the overall diet patterns of more than 10,000 men and women ages 19 to 64. Two major dietary patterns were identified: the “traditional dietary pattern” (TP) of rice, fish, veggie, and fruit, and the “meat and fast-food pattern” (MP), rich in meat, soda and processed foods.

Those who followed the MP diet, which includes instant noodles on its food chart, were associated with an increase in abdominal obesity, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels — all potential triggers for heart disease and diabetes.

 

Women, in particular, who ate instant noodles at least twice or more a week were associated with a higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome. This association was not found in men, and Dr. Frank B. Hu, a Harvard professor of nutrition and epidemiology as well as one of the researchers behind the U.S. study, says this might be because women keep a more accurate record of their diet or because postmenopausual women have higher sensitivity to carbohydrates, sodium and saturated fat, according to The New York Times.

Sodium is certainly one of the key ingredients in instant noodle packages and cups, and one serving of instant ramen exceeds South Korea’s recommended daily sodium intake by more than 90 percent, reports the Associated Press.

The results probably don’t come as a completely surprise to most instant ramen noodle-consuming folks. And it would take a superhuman amount of willpower to ban the comfort food from our diets completely.

 

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South Korean pitcher for the L.A. Dodgers, Ryu Hyun-jin in a commercial for a popular South Korean ramen. (Photo Credit)

For many South Koreans and Korean Americans, instant ramen noodles are a mainstay in their diets, and for myself in particular, the food is a nostalgic reminder of home and childhood. I distinctly remember the joy I felt every time I watched my mother crack an egg over bubbling ramen soup, mesmerized as it disappeared inside the broth, only to resurface in delicious clouds of creamy goodness. My brother and I would take advantage of those 10-for-$1 deals, crushing the noodles inside the packages, and coating the pieces with the seasoning for a delicious, crunchy snack. And, now much older, my brother will never leave California back to the East Coast without packages of ramen tucked snugly inside his suitcase, my mother’s gift symbolizing love and affection.

Needless to say, it may take more than a study to convince ramen-noodle lovers to join the noodle boycott.

Feature photo courtesy of Maangchi.

This story was originally published on iamkoream.com 

A Mother’s Creative Bento Boxes Teach Japan’s Geography And Look Adorable

 

We’ve seen everything from adorable Hello Kitty bento boxes to intricate panda bento boxes. And just when we thought we’ve seen it all, another creative food artist comes along and impresses us even more.

Bentos are home-packed meals common in Japanese cuisine. Traditionally, these boxes hold rice, fish or meat, and pickled or cooked vegetables. More recently, “kyaraben” (which translates to “character bento”) has picked up in popularity. Kyaraben are elaborately decorated bento boxes inspired by characters from anime, comics books, video games, animals, shows, etc. It is not uncommon to come across Japanese children comparing bento boxes at lunchtime to see who has the most impressive looking meal.

But one mother, who goes by the Twitter handle Sasariri, decided that she wanted her bento boxes to not only be cute but help educate her child as well. To do this, she very skillfully incorporated Japan’s prefectures as the theme for each bento box.

For each bento box, she used food items such as seaweed, egg and rice to accurately show the shape of one of Japan’s 47 prefectures, including Hokkaido, Kyoto and Tokyo. She even added the name of of each prefecture written in the roman alphabet to help her child learn even more.

Creative, yummy, cute and educational? Yes, please.

 

 

 

 

 

CHECK OUT MORE OF HER CREATIONS HERE.

 

Tokyo Street Style: Fashion Meets Food Courtesy of Rotari Parker

 

Writing this before breakfast was a terrible idea — my hungry monster keeps getting more upset at the visual deliciousness before me. My love of eating, especially snacks, has gained me the nickname “Snack Attack,” and I won’t deny that I dream of pantries full of crunchy morsels on a regular basis. Now combine this obsession with my daily street style hunts and we reach foodie/fashionista heaven, otherwise known as Japanese accessory line Rotari Parker.

The label has been around for a few years, breathing new life into typical grocery aisle fare, and is still releasing delectable accessories periodically under their “Eat Me” line. These hand-produced marvels are fitting given the eclectic street style of Tokyo, where wearable art garners more appreciation than seasonal fashion movements. I know this story isn’t quite promoting healthy living, but sometimes adorable things are difficult to pass up. That, and I generally take on the “you only live once” approach to eating.

How does Japan wear these sweet and savory finds? By stacking them up because just one won’t do. There’s nothing like being decked out in pretzels and pastries to engage people’s fascination.

And yes, in case you were wondering, this is all real food.

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Photo Courtesy of Tokyofaces.com

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Photo Courtesy of Tokyostreetsnap.com

 

 

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Photo Courtesy of hpfrance.com

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Photo Courtesy of rotariparker.com

 

If you check out Rotari Parker’s Instagram you’ll find their newest designs along with behind-the-scene photos of how they create this yummy invasion of food and fashion. As a warning, it’s best not to look if you are starving at the moment and suffer from “hangriness.”

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Photos Courtesy of Instagram.com/rotariparker

 

 

— STORY BY MIN A. LEE

 

 

Calling All Foodies: Here’s Why You Need to Check Out MPK Night Market

 

If there’s anything Asians know how to do, it’s how to make some of the most mouth-watering, tasty dishes to satisfy our appetites. This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to experience different cuisines served by food truck vendors at yet another one of Los Angeles’s night markets in Monterey Park. Popular eateries among the 30 or so vendors that participated in event were the Ice Cream Lab, Fluff Ice, Tanota Takoyaki, Mighty Boba, and Swirls Potato & Lemonade. In addition to all the food, MPK also presented the city’s first beer and wine garden for residents to enjoy.

 

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Thai Ice Tea Shaved Ice with Lychee Jelly and Egg custard, from Fluff Ice Truck. Photo courtesy of LA Weekly

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Takoyaki Octupus Dumplings, from Tanota Booth Photo courtesy of LA Weekly

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Fluff Ice Food Truck

 

Food trucks have technically been around for decades now and in the past they were more commonly seen around college-towns, concerts, music festivals and other events. Now, with the rise of the industry, food trucks have been hitting the streets in some of US’s biggest cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York.

Daniel Duong, the owner of Rolling Burger Barnes who started his all-American food truck two years ago, decided to get into this particular business because he saw a bright future for the industry. “Right now, I don’t think there is a dominating player among all the food trucks, like how Coca-Cola is the king of the sodas,” he says, and is hopeful that Rolling Burger Barnes could perhaps be the dominating player in the next few years to come.

 

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Other popular vendors of the night included GP Bakery’s booth, a traditional Chinese bakery famous for their onion pancakes and chives turnovers. USC students Maggie Chen and Nancy Chiu, a pair of friends from Taiwan, stood in line at the bakery’s booth for quite awhile before receiving their orders of onion pancakes chives turnovers. “The line was so long, so we thought it must be really good!” Maggie told me. And the consensus? “It tastes just like the food at Taiwanese night markets back home — Totally worth the wait!” said Maggie.

 

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Nancy Chiu and Maggie Chen, rising seniors at USC

 

Jordan and Monet, a couple that drove to the venue all the way from North Hollywood where they live, also enjoyed the spicy glass noodles from GP Bakery.”We try to attend as many night market events like this as possible, because we love food! But we were surprised how much of a variety of food there was, and even more surprised about how many people showed up!” exclaimed Monet. “And these spicy glass noodles are definitely worth the long drive.”

 

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Spicy Glass Noodles. Photo courtesy of Kollaboration

 

While the food was definitely the highlight of the evening, it wasn’t the only main attraction of the night. The night market was also prepared with a variety of entertainment for all ages including a DJ, a face-painting booth, merchandise vendors and traditional carnival games.

 

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To conclude the night, the DJ began playing popular line dance songs such as The Wobble, the Macarena, and the Cha Cha Slide which really got the crowd up and going. Families, couples, and friends grabbed one another and danced the summer night away.

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Photo courtesy of Kollaboration

 

Feature photo courtesy of Kollaboration.

 

How This Indian Food Delivery Business Is Giving McDonald’s A Run For Its Money

 

For those of you who are 20-something, I’m going to take a wild guess that you are probably pretty acquainted with, and perhaps even on first name basis with, the guys that run the fast food chains closest to your office. And hey, no one’s judging you — on busy work days, In-N-Out drive-through is the ideal solution to satisfy your hunger needs.

But let’s all be real here — not even the juiciest of bacon cheese hamburgers will ever match up to Mom’s homemade fried rice, with just the perfect ratio of rice, meat, eggs, green onions and spices. Oh, look at that, I’m already drooling.

Some 500,000 Indian men from Mumbai, who are nicknamed the “dabbawalas,” came up with a brilliant solution so that hard workers in the city could both save the money they would have spent on eating out and have home cooked meals made by their loving wives or mothers — delivered straight to their schools and offices.

 

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Of course, this delivery service comes with a price for the dabbawalas. Every morning, these half a million men first travel house-to-house to pick up the steaming hot tiffins (tins that store the food), which they then transport all over the city on their bikes, through the blazing heat and maddening traffic. Collectively, they pick up and deliver around 200,000 meals a day.

 

With so many different moving parts involved in this system, it can get pretty messy. So along with all the food, the families and the delivery people, there is also a code system. By now, the dabbawalas say they have it all imprinted in their minds, so they know the exact location of where each tiffin goes.

 

tins

 

According to NBC, their system is so efficient that they have a “six sigma level of efficiency,” equating to “making one mistake per every six million deliveries.” Even with odds like that though, the dabbawalas have admitted that there have been mistakes where tiffins were given to the wrong people who sometimes lack the courtesy and eat the home cooked meal given to them anyway.

Despite all the hurdles these men jump through on a day-to-day basis, Pawan Agarwal, head of the Mumbai Dabbawala, said of his colleagues, “It’s hard work, no doubt about it … But they feel that serving food is serving God so they feel happy to do this business.”

Another dabbawala worker also spoke up on how their business remains so successful. “Many people in this city prefer their lunch fresh, prepared lovingly by their wives or mothers,” he said, adding that despite the many restaurants cropping up all over the city, the business has been continuing to grow 5 to 10 percent every year.

Take that, McDonald’s.