Free yourself from the tyranny of big milk.
All our lives we’ve been told to eat our cereal with milk like good little sheeple, when all the time that combination has been nothing more than a sinister global conspiracy for cereal makers to boost their purported health benefits by piggy-backing on the high nutritional value of milk.
Granted, cereal and milk is extremely delicious, but there’s no reason it can’t also be a scam of royal proportions at the same time. Even in Japan, on a bag of Corn Frosty (also known as Frosted Flakes or Frosties in other countries), Tony the Tiger can be seen proclaiming: “Make it more delicious with Milk! Magic with Milk!”
▼ F you, Tony. I won’t do what you tell me!
In Japan, Cereal Day falls on 29 May because the numbers 5-2-9 read as “ko-fu-ku” in Japanese loosely coincides with “corn flake” if you use your imagination really hard. So, our reporter Seiji chose this day to become cereal’s new Independence Day, celebrating our freedom from the drudgery of pouring milk on our cereal every day, and instead opening a whole new universe of flavor combinations and possibilities with various other liquids.
Without further ado, let’s take the red Fruit Loop and dive in…
Orange juice is notorious for not playing we with others, so Seiji decided on its more mild and saccharine cousin orange drink for his first test. Seiji figured since they were both sugary, there shouldn’t be much conflict with this beverage and Corn Frosty.
He was right! The sweetness of the drink and sugary corn flakes melded well, and the orangey aroma was quite pleasant too. If anything it was a little too sweet for Seiji and he though some pure orange juice might have been more balanced after all, as opposed to this ten-percent juice one, but that would have to wait for another Cereal Day.
Hojicha (Roasted Green Tea)
Having successfully warmed up, Seiji tried something more adventurous with the classic Japanese beverage hojicha. He wasn’t quite sure how this would work out, and at first glance the century-old drink didn’t seem like it would match with a cartoon tiger and his sugar-coated corn.
But Seiji was wrong! He could best describe this combination as “cool” in the style sense rather than temperature. Like the orange drink, this combination also had an attractive aroma that really added to the experience more than milk. The flavors of the tea and cereal conflicted but balanced each other out for a refined taste. It was even better than the orange drink!
Soup Stock Seasoning
Dashi, the name for a variety of Japanese soup stocks and sauces based on them, is as widely used in Japan as Corn Frosty is around the world. So, bringing them together was an exciting cross-cultural experiment, but also risky since the fish and seaweed base of dashi wasn’t guaranteed to go with cereal.
Seiji took one bite and was overwhelmed by how amazingly delicious it was! It tasted like a full-bodied meal but the essence of the corn flakes was still firmly present in the mix. This sauce is usually used for noodles, but with cereal there was a novel crispy texture that was really good too.
Monster Energy Drink
The flexibility of Corn Frosty was turning out to be much wider that Seiji had imagined, but up until now he had been mixing with other items that have high compatibility. For his next test, he wanted to find something that had a singular taste, not often mixed with other flavors, so he got some Monster energy drink.
It looked pretty gross to be honest, and it made a fizzing sound because of Monster’s carbonation. Seiji imagined that sound was Monster infusing the Corn Frosty with pure energy as he went in for a spoonful.
It wasn’t bad! But it was very busy, the crackling of the cereal and fizzing bubbles were going off left and right in his mouth against a background of intense sweetness. This seemed like an American taste to our reporter, which would make sense since both were American products.
The previous test showed that Corn Frosty could hold up to carbonated drinks, so Seiji decided to go one further and grabbed a can of beer for the next run. The wheat base of beer and corn base of cereal seemed like it should get along well.
That being said, the bitterness of beer might not lend itself well to the cereal. Let’s see…
It worked! The bittersweet taste found the fight harmony and it turned into a kind of edible shandy. It truly was a solid bowl of Corn Frosty.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
So far the experiment had exceeded Seiji’s wildest expectations, so he decided to push the envelope for his final run and give his last bowl of cereal a generous coating of olive oil. Corn Frosty had proven itself to go well with a number of foods, something which olive oil is also famous for, but can they find common ground with each other?
Wouldn’t you know it? This worked too! The oil mixed with the sugar coating and created a kind of buttery sweet glaze, and the viscosity of it kept the flakes crispier longer. It was a nice texture for those who like to keep their cereal crunchy yet lubricated at the same time.
Considering we didn’t expect this to work at all when starting out, we are thrilled to report that cereal can go well with a number of other things beyond milk. It was a tough choice but if Seiji had to pick a winner from the bunch, he felt he enjoyed the smooth elegance of hojicha and Corn Frosty the most.
Granted, none of these substitutes match milk in terms of nutrition. In fact, a couple of them would probably be downright hazardous to your health, but this experiment has blown open the doors of preconception, leading us into a world of limitless possibilities of liquids to enjoy your cereal with.
Happy Cereal Day!
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The Ninkyo Café is furnished like a yakuza office and provides opportunities to participate in special events with the staff.
Yakuza, or organized crime syndicates in Japan, have long captured the imagination of the Japanese media and film industry. If you grew up captivated by the strict yakuza codes of conduct in movies, TV dramas, and video games, then perhaps you’ll be excited to learn that you can now visit a cafe that draws its inspiration from the world of yakuza.
The Ninkyo Cafe in Nagoya opened in early May after a delay caused by the pandemic. Ninkyo is variously translated as “chivalry” or “generosity” and is an important term for the yakuza, who refer to themselves as “chivalrous organizations.” The cafe was opened in large part thanks to the crowdfunding efforts of virtual YouTuber Choekitaro, whose portrait also adorns the wall of the café.
Most notably, the left side of the cafe functions like a normal cafe, while the right side is known as the “office”–drawing its looks from the supposed interior of a yakuza office with its thick, dark tabletops and hierarchical arrangement of seating.
▼ A view of the office section
— 任侠カフェ (@ninkyo_cafe) May 4, 2021
Seats in the regular café area are free but seats in the office area include additional seat charges as follows:
▼ Wakagashira seat–some shady dealings may or may not be going down.
— ラブ太郎 (@Love_Tarou893) May 15, 2021
▼ Haven’t you always wanted to sit at a yakuza boss’ desk and stare menacingly at your subordinates?
— 懲役太郎 (@choueki_tarou) May 16, 2021
▼ Rather than staring, you could also opt for some outright physical intimidation as well.
— F.B（future Break） (@FBfutureBreak) May 16, 2021
— 任侠カフェ (@ninkyo_cafe) May 13, 2021
The menu includes a typical array of cafe beverages and sweets, including Maria coffee for 500 yen and a special “Parfaitaro” for 550 yen. A drink set (one dessert plus drink) costs 893 yen. Besides the food, the cafe also sells a variety of themed goods, such as long-sleeved shirts, cups and saucers, and Choekitaro records.
— 任侠カフェ (@ninkyo_cafe) May 12, 2021
— おいでよ名古屋@おいなご (@oinagoya) May 12, 2021
Lastly, we’d be remiss not to mention a few special opportunities offered by the cafe:
▼ Some of the outfits available to rent
— 任侠カフェ (@ninkyo_cafe) May 17, 2021
The Ninkyo Cafe offers a safe space (no pinky amputations necessary) to act the part of a yakuza member for a day. At the very least, it won’t come with the added complications of being the former site of an actual yakuza office.
Ninkyo Café / 任侠カフェ
Address: Aichi-ken, Nagoya-shi, Nakagawa-ku, Matsunoki-cho 2-67
Open: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
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Ramen rice fills our stomach with guilty pleasure, and our heart with hope for the future.
The term “rice cooker” is really kind of misleading. When you break it down, the appliance consists of a pot, a heat source, and a timer, so theoretically you can use it to cook anything that’ll fit in the pot.
So, for instance, what would happen if you dumped a bowl of ramen into your rice cooker, and at the same time it was cooking some rice too? We realize that’s not a question most people would ask, but as we’re sure you’ve noticed by now, we’re not most people, so that’s where we find ourselves today.
Step one is the non-crazy part: just pour a single scoop of rice (180 milliliters/6.1 ounces) of white rice into the rice cooker pot. Next, you’ll need cooked ramen noodles, plus whatever toppings and broth you want. For this part, we picked up some pork ramen from Tokyo’s Ramen Butayama restaurant.
Place the noodles on top of the rice and add water. Since we were using a brothless ramen, we poured in 400 milliliters (13.5 ounces) of water, enough to cook two scoops or rice.
Now it’s time to add any ramen seasonings you have. In our case, this turned out to be mashed garlic paste and the thick sauce base called tare.
Give everything a few gentle stirs, then add any vegetable toppings…
…and finally, artfully arrange your chashu pork pieces.
Then all that’s left to do is close the lid and start the cooking cycle. In total, it took about an hour for our ramen rice to cook. During the process, we noticed there wasn’t as much steam coming out of the cooker as when we just cook rice, but in terms of smell, this was a good thing, since we figured a billowing plume of garlic vapor probably would have stunk up the kitchen pretty badly.
When the hour was up, we popped the lid, and…
…well, at first glance it looked pretty much the same as it had before we started the cooking. Grabbing our rice scoop and stirring things up, though…
…revealed ramen rice had been achieved!
It may not look fancy, but hey, we’re here for the taste. And on that front, ramen rice delivers! Butayama’s ramen is part of the strong-flavored “Jiro-inspired” ramen category, and every bite made us smile from the delicious garlic and juicy pork sensations.
However, there were a few unexpected elements. For starters, the rice wasn’t quite as fluffy as it usually us (i.e. when we cook it without a bowl of ramen in the same pot). We think this might be because the extra ingredients kept the rice from getting as much heat as it ordinarily does.
This is probably partially our fault. When we started our rice cooker, we had it set to its standard white rice setting. However, there’s also a setting for making takikomigohan, rice with seasonings and other vegetables, and that’s really the setting we should have used, since it cooks the rice a little more thoroughly.
In addition, while the garlic and pork flavors were strong, we could have done with a bigger contribution from the broth. Again, tough, we kind of have to blame ourselves for this, since we used a non-broth style of ramen with only the thick tare. Replacing some of the water we used for cooking with ramen broth instead probably would have given us a bolder taste.
That said, this was still a tasty and very filling creation, and we’re looking forward to whipping up another, even better batch.
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