Hikari's Food/Japanophile and Other Interesting Stuff blog

New Content Incoming!

I have recently received coupons for:

Blue Apron


Hello Fresh

Not only that, but a friend has sent a generous gift package from Omaha Steaks.

Lots of new reviews on everything soon!

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Hey, it’s Tuesday. Pig in a Poke!

My apologies for not posting in a while, but I don’t post if I don’t feel inspired.

What has inspired me today?


Hey, Tuesday. Pig in a poke.

For those of you that recognize this, congratulations. For those that don’t, go watch Supernatural, season 3, episode 11, Mystery Spot.

But what is pig in a poke?

Well, it depends on the region. I’m from the South, so it’s usually synonymous with “pigs in a blanket” which can mean anything from a sausage wrapped in a pancake to hotdogs wrapped in various dough, usually biscuits.

We wanted said pigs, so we dug some hot dogs out of the freezer and bought some crescent roll dough.


Yeah, that’s right, Baby, Bacon.

Let’s get started by opening up the can and rolling out the dough. You’ll notice it’s perforated into rectangles with a diagonal slit. separate the rectangles and push together the dough at the slit.


Then, place the hotdog in the center of the rectangle like so, and fold the dough over the dog. Feel free to pinch the ends shut.


You can also add cheese to the dough, but it may leak while baking if you don’t seal up all the cracks.


On the left is the rolled one Extra dough got pinched off an can be used to seal cracks.

Then, just bake according the the crescent roll directions!


These actually came out just right, cheese and all!


Get in mah belly

Enjoy with your favorite hotdog condiment, or just eat them plain, they’re so tasty!

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Shpadoinkle! Goldfish Puffs

Aaahhh! I’ve started my new job this week and my brain is exploding with all the stuff I have had to learn.

Time to unwind with my newest find for snackin’: Goldfish Puffs by Pepperidge Farms.


I’ve loved Goldfish crackers since I was a child, soaking those smiling orange crackers in soup or nomming them by the handful.

I noticed these babies after the 4th at Walgreen’s and HAD to try them. Unfortunately, all I’ve been able to find so far in the individual size is the buffalo flavor, so I have no clue what the other two flavors, Mega Cheese and Cheddar Bacon taste like.

If you like the smell and flavor of Buffalo Wing sauce but don’t like the heat? Then they’re not that bad. Definitely not very spicy and the sauce flavor is a bit muted. You can tell their coating has a cheese base, so I expect the cheese-based flavors to be more true-to-label. The corn puff flavor is pretty strong, but I like that.

I liked the firm texture and crunch to them, and they’re much denser than a cheesy-poof, less crunchy than a Cheeto. Less orange powder on you fingers, too. These guys are bigger than Goldfish crackers, but not too big for small hands or mouths.

Close up of the little critters

Close up of the happy little critters

Some come a little wrinkled or deformed, but that’s the nature of shaped foods, especially ones that puff, they’re not always perfect.

All in all, I liked them, but will avoid buying the larger bags due to my general lack of self control. If I can find the other two flavors in the small bags, I’ll be a happy camper, as Buffalo isn’t my fave flavor. I like it, but I don’t always want that strong, aromatic, vinegary tang. Bacon, however… If they manage to get that flavor right… Well… I might just buy the big bags after all.



I broke down and bought one of the bigger bags of Mega Cheddar. Yummy!

It’s all mellow and flavorful, not tangy like Cheetos. Love, Love, Love!

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WARNING: Jelly Belly BellyFlops really do have EVERY flavor!

Okay, I know I’m supposed to be finishing my Vegas post, but I had an experience last night… and it must be shared.

Everyone knows Jelly Belly, the American jelly bean company that makes some of the BEST jelly beans EVER. I say some, because there are a few other favorites, especially around Easter, but when I can go to the market and come back with a bag full of just my favorite flavor (Juicy Pear or Red Apple), well, there’s no contest.

So, this brings me to last night. Belly flops came out full force in spring, flooding shelves at discount stores like Big Lots and Grocery Outlet in 2 pound bags as well as little 5 ounce bags at the Dollar Store. What are Belly Flops? Here’s the description from Jelly Belly’s website:

belly-flops“Did you ever wonder what happens to the Jelly Belly jelly beans that are a little less perfect? Or the ones that somehow escaped the Jelly Belly logo stamper? Well, those are our beloved Belly Flops!

Belly Flops are no less flavorful, or lovable, than regular Jelly Belly jelly beans; they just come in wild shapes and sizes. You may find one that’s round, one that’s square, or you may even find a bunch stuck together. On very rare occasions, a flavor may not match a color. A red Belly Flop might taste like Blueberry, or a white one might taste like Chocolate Pudding. Crazy!

Belly Flop bags contain a lot of different assortments, and each bag is randomly packed. But you’re sure to get a good variety of flavors in each bag.”


I’ve bought the 2-pound bags and the little dollar ones for months with nary an odd flavor in the bag. But… thus one bag… must have gotten some Bertie Botts or Beanboozled beans.

Bertie Botts beans:

bertie botts

Have you ever tried these Harry Potter classics?

Beanboozled beans:

bean boozled

I REALLY feel sorry for the people who have to taste-test these things.

I was watching a Japanese drama, gleefully munching on my beans, when a terrible taste filled my mouth. It was hard to tell exactly what the flavor was, due to having more than one bean in there. All I know is the offending bean was dark. This was the first time I’ve ever gotten something other than a normal flavored bean. I will still buy belly flops while they’re available, but will watch what I eat a little more carefully from now on.


Shpadoinkle! – Aladdin Drinking Bottle Love!

Yes, I know, Shpadoinkle! was supposed to be weekly… but I don’t have the cash to go buy something cool all the time and my cabinets are already full of shtuff… So from now on, it’s just occasionally.

I know I’ve posted before about trying to find a good drinking bottle. I don’t like the metal ones and the glass ones are just trouble waiting to happen. Thus, I tend to rely on plastic. However, I don’t like paying exorbitant amounts of cash on said water bottle. What’s too much for me? Usually anything over 10-15 bucks. Yeah, I know, I’m a cheapskate.

I also don’t like my water bottles to leak. This is a problem as most of the cheapo water bottles out there DO leak. I’m not even gonna get started on the sanitation issue of the ones with the folding straws… Eww…

But most of my prayers were answered a couple of weeks ago during a trip to Wally World, AKA Wal-Mart. What did I find?


This beauty, for only $5 and in a variety of colors! I was actually torn between blue and purple.  It’s only 18 ounces and is much larger than a normal water bottle of that capacity, but it’s nice and thick, so it can take a pounding. Also, the removable top part is EXCELLENT!


Pouring anything in there is super easy and I can freeze a cupful of juice for a giant ice cube. There’s a nice rubber seal around the top part that prevents it from leaking and the top cap is also excellent.

I also think these would be great for tumbler bento, which have been popping up here and there.

Hmmm… maybe I should go back and get that purple one after all…

Shpadoinkle! 4 out of 5 baked potatoes… only because it holds 18 oz. considering its size. Woulda gotten 5 otherwise… Sorry no graphic, my pix are on a computer currently undergoing surgery.


Post-Easter egging and the Giveaway Winner!

Hello, all! First off, let’s see what my Japanese friend and I came up with during our Easter egg-decorating spree!

Not one, but TWO sets of double yolks!

Not one, but TWO sets of double yolks!

After I share not one, but TWO double yolks with breakfast the other day. Lucky!

Can you tell which were mine and which were hers?

Now on to the Giveaway Winner!

We had 4 entries, and the winner is:

Lucky Number Four!

Lucky Number Four!

Eclectic Lamb! Congratulations! Remember there will be all sorts of extras packed in as well.

I will send you an email to iron out shipping specifics. I will go pick out your brand new Furoshiki tomorrow, based on the bento preferences in your blog! Talk to you soon, ~Hikari




Pre-Easter Cuteness! It feels like spring when…

Alright everyone, it doesn’t matter if it’s still snowing or if the blossoms are already falling off the cherry trees where you live, or even if you’re not religious, there’s something about Easter that just screams SPRING!

Thinking of spring makes me want to wear pinks and pastels, grow green things and open the windows. Easter is the perfect landmark holiday for all things cute and cuddly, with the bunny as it’s mascot and cute little baby animals in tow.


So why then have so few Japanese ever really heard of it? Almost every Japanese girl I’ve befriended at University typically has had no idea. Isn’t Japan the Land of All Things CUTE? I figured that at least Sanrio would have taken this golden opportunity to push bunny-themed merchandise at them! Or maybe it’s just us Westerners that reap the seasonal benefits?

Don't tell me these are just NORMAL in Japan?

Don’t tell me these are just NORMAL in Japan?

But then there’s the CUTE candies! I know every season has its own variety of custom candy, but how much cuter can you get than chocolate bunnies, chicks and lambs?

I couldn't find lambs in any stores nearby... shame...

I couldn’t find lambs in any stores nearby… shame…

In America, Cadbury is synonymous with the “clucking” bunny, creme eggs and other chocolate goodies.

Unfortunately, sometimes marketing can take the theme a bit too far… Not only are there “egg-laying” chickens…

At least it's "laying eggs"

At least it’s “laying eggs”

But there are also little noise-making “dispensers” that… poop out the candy…

Just what a parent wants... a child hyped up on sugar, making that annoying noisy dispenser go off... repeatedly...

Just what a parent wants… a child hyped up on sugar, making that cute but annoying noise making dispenser go off… repeatedly…

At least it can be a time to stock up on some cosplay items.

I can think of at least one non-spring use for bunny ears...

I can think of at least one non-Easter use for bunny ears…

I have one of my Japanese friends coming to visit this Easter and we’ll be decorating eggs. I wonder what creative designs we’ll have to show after?

Tune in Monday for the results and to see who won my Reader Appreciation” Giveaway!



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Creative Bento Strap: Repurposing hair ties (and a Reader Appreciation Spring Giveaway!)

Hi all, long time no post! At least not a real one. Well to make up for it, we have a two-fer.

First, the bento strap: You know what these look like, they’re those elastic, rubber or silicone straps that cost way too much and hold your lunch together.

The usual suspects

The usual suspects

My solution: Has anyone else seen this done? I poked around on the internet, but since most search engines are practically useless, I rely on you, the readers.

I can't believe no one's thought of this yet! Or at least posted it on the internet.

I can’t believe no one’s thought of this yet! Or at least posted it on the internet.

Here we go, easy bento strap with those hair ties called pom-poms or whatever. (You could also maybe use those rubber bracelets? (the thin round ones, not the wide inspirational kind)


I thought of this a while ago, as I had an enormous package of hair elastics and made a rope of them. Then I wondered: how can I link them together to form a big circle? This led to the bento strap idea, as I had considered making some nice ones for my bentos. You know, with wide elastic and maybe some cute character made of felt. But I digress.

I had remembered seeing many of those ball-and-elastic type hair ties just a few years ago, so they shouldn’t be that hard to find, right? Wrong. Dollar tree, no. Wal-mart, no. (Although a friend told me I was looking in the wrong spot) Rite-aid or Walgreen’s, no. grumpyno Luckily, I stopped by a family owned dollar store and found these! Woot! My star ones were there too, but I already have pix of those.

Multiple colors, and even butterflies? I wonder how well the fuzzy ones would work...

Multiple colors, and even butterflies? I wonder how well the fuzzy ones would work…

So, how do you actually make it work? Well, if you’ve never made one of these chains, here’s the scoop.

tying it1

Just pull one tie through another, loop it through itself and pull!

tying it 2

When it’s long enough, just loop the hair tie through, wrap the whole thing around the bento and attach! You can stop here,


Or pull the second bauble up to loop around the first. What’s great is they slide on the elastic, so they don’t have to get in each other’s way.


I like this because it’s completely adjustable. Too big, remove one. Too small? add one! I also found this idea for decoration using a brooch.

Any kind of large enough pin, brooch or button will do!

Now, on to part 2!

It’s spring, I’ve got a week before having to go back to classes for my last quarter in University. I’d like to give my readers some appreciation, as my blog has been relatively steady in it’s viewership. What shall I do? How about a nice giveaway? Would you like one of my hair-tie bento straps? How about a bento start-up kit?

I’m giving away one starry hair-tie set, you pick the color: Orange, Clear or Blue. It will come with four clean, unused, matching color hair ties, like in the picture. I will also include a starter bento kit with all you see here: (plus some other small things like a small box I forgot to take a picture of, maybe some miso paste if you like that, or some candy, whatever I feel like throwing in there towards the end, when the package is being put together.) (^_^)

We have: some picks, some cups, a couple of sauce containers, silicone and paper side-dish cups.

We have: some picks, some cups, a couple of sauce containers, silicone and paper side-dish (cupcake) cups.

PLUS!: One furishiki (Bandana size) for wrapping your lunch. I don’t know what it will look like as I will be buying it after the winner is chosen because I don’t want to give someone a used cloth (seems kinda rude). If you like you can tell me your preferences and I’ll keep it in mind when picking one from what’s available.

What to do: Just comment below, note the star color preference, what kind of cloth you’d like, and… what’s your favorite thing to have for lunch? You can also comment on Facebook and that will count as an entry as well.

On Monday, April 1st, (NO April’s Fools joke!) I will use a random number generator to decide the winner. The winner will be contacted via email for shipping details.

Good luck everyone, thanks for reading, and feel free to share!


*Edit update – Just to let you know: If you’re a blogger, your posts will help me choose the proper cloth to send you. For instance, if you have a favorite box or if you absolutely adore cute things, that will be taken into account when I pick one out.

*Winner Update!: The official Winner was #4, Eclectic Lamb. Congratulations!


“Salad Burger with Chicken” -or how to pack a salad in a burger shaped bento box-

Yeah, I know, not one of my most creative titles, but it can’t be my worst, right?

This was actually from last week, but I couldn’t find time for a mid-week post.

It’s the return of the Burger Bento! This time, I wanted a salad.

It was interesting seeing how much lettuce would fit in the lower part and still be able to clamp it all together.

It was interesting seeing how much lettuce would fit in the lower part and still be able to clamp it all together.

This was quite simple and I was able to use all the layers in my container. Sliced chicken in the “meat” section, bagged salad in the “bun” and some carrot sticks and grape tomatoes for color over in the “lettuce”. I had a package of ranch dressing, but I added some homemade shiso dressing in that little carrot container as well for a vinegary kick.

Poor Mr. Chickie, he had to ride solo on this adventure, at least until lunchtime. Then he met his friends again!

Poor Mr. Chickie, he had to ride solo on this adventure, at least until lunchtime. Then he met his friends again!

Hey, what’s that extra chicken doing in there? Yup, been craving boiled eggs, decided to make a few and this is how I tell them apart in the fridge. It’s easy with some markers.

One problem, though… He didn’t fit! I ended up carrying this guy separate or he would have cracked under the pressure.

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Guest Blogging: Strange/Unusual Japanese Foods

(Once again, my friend Melissa sends us tales of life in the JET program. She is currently living in in Kumamoto Prefecture on Kyushu Island.)

One of the first things that comes to people’s minds when they think about traveling to a foreign country is the different types of food. Most are slight tweaks to a common food that we may have eaten in the past; a type of chicken cooked with a new tropical fruit, or perhaps a type of pasta made with a cheese you’ve never tasted before. All of which are relatively safe and leave your palate piqued with interest but not overwhelmed.

Japan, in my experience, has two very different categories of food. On the one hand Japanese cuisine is famous for being very mild with their flavors and preferring to taste the basis of what you are eating rather than additives. A good example would be sushi where the focus is on the natural taste of the fish rather than any type of seasoning. Even their sweets are very bland in nature. Mild creams and chocolates are just enough to sweeten your taste-buds but not enough to overload them with sugar.

Then there is the strange and unusual category. Different parts of Japan will have their own foods to put in this category but in Kyushu there are a couple of winners that I feel deserve to be mentioned.

Actual size.

Yamame, actual size.

The first and actually the least unusual in this area would be Yamame. This is a type of trout that is caught in the fresh-water rivers in the smaller villages. The fish in about 5-7 inches long, with very little meat on it.

Actual picture of the yamame Melissa ate… to the applause of the entire lunchroom.

Actual picture of the yamame Melissa ate… to the applause of the entire lunchroom.

The thing that makes this special is that in this part of Japan eating that fish whole, head and all, is the ONLY way to eat that fish. There’s no picking out the bones or taking out the eyes. You eat every little bit of that fish. The audible crunch of the bones and the bitter aftertaste of the organs can be a bit much at first but it grows on you after a while. The thing that sometimes gets you is when they serve a female Yamame. It is considered very lucky to get a pregnant female. The kids during school lunch will gasp in excitement and jealousy when they see the gaping hole of the fish with little eggs spilling out. The ‘pop, pop’ feel of eggs bursting in your mouth like little zits has been something to this day that I struggle with. The bitter salty taste of the eggs and the almost jelly like texture sticks to the roof of your mouth for the entire day.

This next food is something that is very famous in this part of Japan. To start off with I should mention that in Kyushu all forms of meat, fish, sea food, etc. is game to be eaten raw. On several occasions I have been served raw chicken and pork. Now to some this might seem strange but salmonella and other bacterial growths in meat are non-existent in Japan. Eating raw meat is considered very safe and even a preferred health measure since you are getting the full amounts of vitamins and protein without the extra fats and salts that end up in the meat when you cook it. Chicken and beef are not the most unusual raw meat to be served. This next meat can come in at a whopping $100 for a small plate of it raw and the animal itself is actually brought in from the good old USA. So a big round of applause goes out to Montana for supplying Japan with your… can you guess? …HORSIES!

Yep, they eat little ponies on purpose!

Yep, they eat little ponies on purpose!

Yes, raw horse meat or Basashi is considered a delicacy in this part of Japan. There is even a festival, called the drunken horse festival, where the horses are hand fed beer and are blessed by priests and the people before they are taken to a shrine to… well let’s just say that white lite at the end of their tunnel isn’t from the beer. Now this particular ceremonial BBQ slaughter has changed in the last 10 years due to animal cruelty charges from visiting foreigners, but to this day they will still feed giant Clydesdales beer and have them trop up and down the street with dancers. No eating of the horses but everyone gets to touch the horse and celebrate the memories of old traditions.

basashi fest

(Melissa actually sent this to me before the big UK horse meat scandal. It seemed an appropriate topic to post.)