Shakey’s Pizza! It’s not that great, but it’s all-you-can-eat, which makes it awesome. Being a buffet, I thought it was a curious choice for a numbers-driven program like Otameshika which covers the most popular items on a restaurant’s menu. Apparently these are the most popular pizzas eaten at Shakey’s buffets, measured by the “number of people served in one month” which was not fully explained. For items lower than 10th place, no numbers were given.
All items are pizzas unless noted with an asterisk*
1. Pepperoni 61,000 servings in one month
2. Fried Potatoes* (Sliced, not like French Fries) 40,000
3. Chocolate Banana 31,000
4. Corn 30,000
5. Roast Chicken & Pineapple 29,000
6. Double Cheese 28,000
7. Salami 26,000
8. Shrimp & Mayonnaise 25,500
9. Meatsauce Spaghetti* 25,000
10. Tuna & Onion 24,000
14. Mayonnaise & Corn
17. Tuna & Corn
20. Squid, Tuna & Seaweed (Nori)
23. Mentaiko Spaghetti*
26. Custard & Pineapple
29 (out of 30!). Tomato & Fresh Basil
A few thoughts:
I never touch the non-pizza menu items, but watching the TV people dip pizza into curry made me decide that’s worth trying.
Considering they are among the most popular pizzas, I have never ever seen numbers 5 or 7. And I almost never see a pure pepperoni pie, usually it’s included with a combination of toppings.
Maybe it’s regional, but I swear the Osaka Shakey’s puts out Tuna and Corn pizzas (in various incarnations) like nobody’s business. To the point that I have to sit down and wait for normal pizzas.
Wendy’s! Have I told you how good Wendy’s is in Japan? They charge an arm and a leg for it because they’re pushing a “premium” angle, but goddamn I ate there in September and it was delicious.
Tonight’s Otameshika stuck a group of celebs in a Wendy’s (I think it was the Omotesando restaurant) and had them eat food until they found the ten most popular items on the menu. Here’s the rank of every item they ordered:
1. Wendy’s Burger (aka The Single)
2. French Fries
3. French Fries w/ Chili & Cheese
4. Mushroom Melt
5. Wendy’s Chili
6. Mushroom Melt Chicken
7. The Chili Burger
9. Spicy Chicken Filet
10. Avocado & Tartar Shrimp
11. Smart Burger (smaller patty)
12. French Fries w/ Bacon & Cheese
15. Teriyaki Wasabi Burger
17. Bacon Deluxe
19. Wendy’s Chili & Cheese
25. The Chili Iberico Bacon
29. Baked Potato w/ Chili Cheese
As always, take every Japanese TV program with a grain of salt because they have no obligation to tell the truth.
If you’ve been reading these pages or you’ve talked to me in person or you’ve ever turned on a television in Japan, you know that Japanese television is awful. Awful, awful, awful beyond all synonyms of awfulness. With endless hours devoted to zooming in on plates of food and airing the same twelve “comedians” shouting at one another, I’m unable to comprehend how the Japanese people as a whole haven’t thrown their sets out the window in protest. As painful as it was, I just chalked up to ye olde “cultural differences” and kept on paying for cable.
The survey, conducted by Research Panel, received over 175,000 responses and the number one answer, by far, was “television has become boring” (71.2%). 15.8% said “it hasn’t changed”, 6.7% said “it’s gotten more interesting” and 6.3% shrugged their shoulders. A few choice comments from the “it’s boring” crowd:
“The Internet is more fun”
“I only watch the news”
“All the shows look the same”
“It’s nothing but geinin* talking”
Granted, this survey appears to have been collected online and I doubt there was any scientific methodology behind its reach, but I still see this as a sign that even Japanese people are fed up with the entertainment slop they are being fed.
By the way, Iron Chef’s coming back a week from tomorrow! I am setting myself up for a huge disappointment, aren’t I.
* geinin, 芸人, is a Japanese word that collectively refers to all the people who appear on Japanese television shows. Not exactly the same as “celebrity” or “comedian”, two types of people who would be considered geinin.
Just watched the finale. Got slightly emotional. Then I thought about it, and one question came to my mind:
[seriously, I hope the Facebook preview doesn’t spoil this for anyone]
If the Angels can’t move when someone is looking at them, how the hell can the Statue of Liberty ever move an inch? That’s got to be the most observed statue in the city, if not the nation.
Not that she did anything, mind you, it was essentially a throwaway gag. But come on.
Second thought: if anything carrying the image of an Angel is also an Angel (pictures, videos, etc - according to “The Time of Angels”), that means there are now billions of Statue of Liberty Angels all around the world.
When I heard the news this morning I was beyond excited. The original Iron Chef, the one that aired on The Food Network in the late 90s/early 00s, completely captivated me and my friends. It reinforced my already burgeoning desire to visit Japan, and it convinced me that maybe expensive restaurants are worth trying every once in a while (Nobu certainly lived up to the hype).
However, the more I think about it, the more this might not be such good news.
First of all, and those of you who know me have heard this before, Japanese television is a total wasteland right now. There are only two kinds of shows being made: unwatchable “dramas” and agonizing “variety” shows. A typical variety show takes place on a garish set, features far too many people talking at once, and the screen is jam packed with images of food.
I’m serious, somehow Japanese television has evolved into non-stop food porn and the only thing anyone can say is Oishiiiiiiii! (“Delicious!”).
For years I assumed Iron Chef was partly the cause. It was, after all, a show that was about food, but only a moron would think that the food was the star of the show. No, it was the characters: Chairman Kaga, the Iron Chefs, the music (stolen completely from the film Backdraft), the roving reporter, hell, even the set of Kitchen Stadium had tremendous personality. In the end, the food was something to look at (and it looked good) but that wasn’t what kept us glued to the set. My friends and I had no idea what “konnyaku” was but we watched an entire hour of it on Iron Chef because we loved the people.
Which is why I’m so worried about the new “Iron Chef.” First of all, that’s the title now. The original Japanese 料理の鉄人 (ryori no testujin, literally “iron men of cooking”) has been discarded in favor of the English title, which reminds me of the time when Konami tried dropping 悪魔城ドラキュラ in favor of “Castlevania” inside Japan: it was dumb, and they went back to the original.
Second of all, and I think you knew this would be the case, none of the original cast is coming back. Not the chefs, not Kaga, and of course the original set is long gone. There’s reasons to be optimistic about this: over the course of the show several Iron Chefs came and went, and it was the third Japanese chef Masaharu Morimoto who was my personal favorite. However, losing Kaga suggests to me that they’ve already forgotten how interesting he was. One need only look at the US version to see how big a difference the Chairman makes: he tries his best, but it’s a step down.
And lastly, there’s a quote in the article from Fuji TV executive Akihiro Arai where he namedrops Susan Boyle (!?) as an example of how he wants the new program to “sweep over the world.” Nothing screams to me “we don’t know what we’re doing” like comparing your television program to a flash-in-the-pan viral Internet sensation.
Combine that with talk of aiming the program at “the world” and I’m official concerned. You can’t just decide to make something the whole world will enjoy, that’s as impossible as deciding to make a so-bad-its-good movie. You can’t plan for that, it just happens.
The original Iron Chef wasn’t thinking globally, it was utterly, hopelessly Japanese, beyond cheesy at every turn. Viewers latched onto that and embraced it, got caught up in it, and fell in love with it. Once you convince yourself that you need to make a show for everyone, it won’t appeal to anyone.
But who knows? Maybe lightning can strike twice. Maybe the program won’t be slathered in pop stars and jokeless comedians and maybe they’ll find new performers who own the screen like Kaga and the boys did years ago. I mean, if Japanese television is all about food now, how can they screw up a program that showcases world cuisine?
Wait, don’t answer that. I know exactlyhow they can screw it up, and I’d rather not think about that. Optimism! Happy thoughts! Allez cuisine!
It is bad enough when a network slaps a “lower third” ad for one of their shows on another one of their programs, and especially redundant when they run an ad for the very show you are watching on top of itself, but this is an ad for an unrelated theatrical movie.
I get it: Universal distributes both Parks and Recreation and Battleship, but this is a slippery slope. Obnoxious and distracting ads will just keep encroaching content until the screen space left over for the narrative content will be smaller than our old standard definition broadcasts.
Lame. I have a feeling Leslie Knope would not approve either.
How are people not picketing in the streets over this? Multiple commercial breaks aren’t enough, now the US has fucking banner ads during TV shows? What’s next, pop-up ads in movie theaters?
Pizza is my favorite food in the world. Nothing will ever replace it. However, in recent years I’ve found myself increasingly drawn towards chicken. Whenever my wife asks me what I want to eat, my first answer is pizza. After she rejects that idea, my next answer is always chicken. Why? I couldn’t say, but I bet Torikizoku has something to do with it.
Torikizoku rather quietly entered my life a few years ago when a friend took me there for dinner. We ate and drank a ton and yet stumbled out without taxing our wallets - a rarity in Japan. But Toriki, as the cool kids call it, isn’t just cheap (everything on the menu costs 280 yen - about $3), it’s delicious.
Recently Mako showed me that Otameshika, the Japanese TV program about eating at restaurants to discover the top ten items on the menu, went to Toriki last August when I was out of the country. For posterity, I will share those results with you now:
Momo torikizoku-yaki (grilled thigh meat)
Kawa (chicken skin)
Tsukune (chicken meatball)
Tori kamameshi (rice cooked with chicken & vegetables)
Piri-kara kyuri-zuke (spicy pickles)
Tsukune cheese (#6 topped with cheese)
I seriously do not know what to make of this list. #10 is a personal favorite. #7 makes sense, especially if you have kids (my son LOVES fries). #1 is on the inside of the front page of the menu, so it’s popular by design. #6 is #10 minus cheese, which isn’t as good but still tasty. #8 exists because Japanese people are used to eating rice with every meal.
But the rest? #2 is literally a huge bowl of cabbage with free refills. Of cabbage. Not a salad, just fucking chopped cabbage. #9 is OK but I would have figured edamame (those little green beans served with beer in many restaurants) would best it. Both of these are on the “speed menu” so they are prioritized in the customer’s eye.
Numbers 3 through 5 are easily the grossest things on the menu. I know, I know, tastes vary, but they are all super chewy, hard to swallow, and all around unappealing. Yet it would appear that the people of Japan can’t get enough of them. Who knew?
Because you didn’t ask, here are my top ten favorite things to eat at Toriki:
Chicken nanban (fried cutlet topped with tartar sauce)
Camembert Croquette (fried cheese. FRIED CHEESE)
Kara-age (boneless bits of fried chicken)
Mune torikizoku-yaki (like above, only breast meat)
Either of the vegetables-stuffed-with-minced-chicken-meat
I don’t watch Japanese dramas for a lot of reasons, the primary one being they are terrible. Seriously, despite having writers and actors and editing, they are actually less compelling than the hastily-concocted “let us look at and talk about food” variety programs that dominate Japanese television. But I am aware of them because I own a television and thus I cannot escape the advertising. And I’m sure it won’t surprise when I say that all of these dramas star almost exclusively Japanese performers playing Japanese characters.
So it caught my attention when I read this morning that a revival of the very popular 踊る大捜査線 (known abroad as Bayside Shakedown) will be adding a Korean character. Moreover, she will actually be played by Korean actor Yi Hae-in*. This is no doubt a reflection of the growing popularity of imported Korean dramas and movies here in Japan, particularly on Fuji Television which is the network that airs Bayside Shakedown.
But here’s the catch: the Korean character will be an “international marriage con artist.” The first major foreign character I’ve ever seen on a Japanese televsion show is a criminal. Which means this is another case of one step forward, two steps back for Japanese media acknowledging that anyone other than Japanese people live in Japan. Nevermind the fact that there are millions of foreign residents, a great many of which are of Korean descent. No, a foreigner on TV is just another crook.
And here’s the real kicker: Japanese netizens are already up in arms about this announcement. Not because of the reason I outlined, of course, but because they feel like Fuji TV has too many Koreans as it is. Only in Japan can you continue to marginalize foreigners and still hear complaints that your network has too many foreigners on it.
*This is the best version of her name I could come up with from frantic Googling for twenty minutes. I apologize if I got it wrong.