Domino’s Pizza Japanese app features Vocaloid singer Hatsune Miku

Pretty cool: Domino’s Pizza goes all in on mobile tech wizardry — at least for its Japanese market — with a new app featuring Hatsune Miku, a Vocaloid, synthetic/anime J-pop persona that’s entirely digital. According to a new video that has Domino’s Japan CEO Scott Oelkers introducing the app, Domino’s staff came up with songs for the app, and the Vocaloid software program generated the singing by the animated star Miku. Pretty cool…. wonder if Domino’s will be able to come up with an English-language US version, and if young Americans would order their pizza from a singing app?

AF Reducer passes the taste test: I drank beer and didn’t get Asian Flush

AF Reducer prevents the "Asian Flush" caused by alcohol

I don’t drink, but it’s not because of moral objections or religion or prudishness. Like many Asians, I’m allergic to alcohol.

Specifically, I get the familiar “Asian Flush” after just a few sips of even beer. I drank when I was younger, but I felt self-conscious about my face turning red, my eyes glowing in the dark and my body getting splotchy like I rolled around in poison ivy.

It’s not fair: My dad used to drink like a fish and he didn’t get the Asian flush. My younger brother Glenn is blessed with the same ability to drink without the outward sunburned display; my older brother Gary turns red but it’s never stopped him from drinking.

As a high school student (yes, it’s true, I may have done some under-aged drinking… I blame my jock friends), I could never hide the fact that I may have sipped a beer or two. Even if I came home at 1 in the morning, my mom would be inside the front door or at the top of the steps. “You be drinky? she’d ask. “Uh, no mom, I don’t drink. I was just driving around the mountains with Bubba and John.” “Heh? You sure? You look like you be drinky…”

Damn. Busted.
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When I dream of sushi, I don’t dream of “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”

Jiro Ono (left) and his son, Yoshikazu.

Jiro Ono (left) and his son, Yoshikazu.

For the past year, people have been telling us to watch “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” the 2011 documentary by David Gelb about Jiro Ono, the 85-year-old artisan sushi chef who operates a Michelin 3-star restaurant, Sukibayashi Jiro, tucked into a Tokyo underground station.

We finally saw it, and it’s a charming look at the very high end of sushi, not just as food, but as an artform. The sushi is served one piece at a time, meant to be swallowed whole, and whatever soy sauce or extra flavoring is required is brushed on by the chef before it’s placed on the customer’s plate. There are no small plates for soy sauce and wasabi to mix together at your discretion. The chef controls the experience from start to finish.

The film is also arty and deliberate in its pacing, with the telling modernist repetition of composer Philip Glass making up much of the soundtrack music. The documentary reveals the daily workings of the small restaurant and its autocratic owner Jiro and his aging son Yoshikazu who is waiting to take over when his father retires (and the younger son Takashi, who escaped to operate his own restaurant in the hip Roppongi district of the city).
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Japanese Americans, Chinese food and our sense of community

Lao Wang Noodle House

Mmmmm. Chinese food. Just thinking about Lao Wang Noodle House in Denver, which I swear serves the best dumplings in the universe (it’s where the photo above was taken) gets my mouth watering. It’s a tiny hole-in-the-wall tucked into a tiny strip mall along the South Federal Asian strip of mostly Vietnamese eateries. It’s run by an elderly couple who can be cranky (“We’re closed,” we were told gruffly on one visit even though they were supposed to be open another hour) but who hand-make dumplings that are to die for. The food is authentic, and no-frills, like the service.

But we also love American Chinese food. One of our favorites is the suburban Arvada restaurant Tea Garden. There are also some terrific eateries that serve authentic Chinese cuisine, like you might get in China: China Gourmet in Boulder and the larger, fancier Spice China in Superior are operated by the same family.

Authentic or American Chinese, we love Chinese food. Takeout, eat-in, delivered.
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Rice and tea have been and always will be mainstays of Asian culture

15 cups of riceI’m not much of a churchgoer, but I’ve attended and volunteered at events at both the Denver Buddhist Temple, and the Simpson Methodist Church, which are both focal points of the local Japanese and Japanese American communities. A couple of weeks ago, I was part of the Mile High JACL‘s Fall Festival team, and spent a long day cooking (and cleaning) at Simpson Methodist Church.

Both churches hold lots of cultural events, and like any church or temple probably throughout the world, both have fully-equipped kitchens. As we prepped for the food orders to come in, I realized that even though I’m not part of either church’s community, I’m Japanese in my cultural DNA. When I was told to wash 15 cups of rice in one of the banks of rice cookers against one wall in the back room behind the kitchen, I knew what to do without anyone explaining.
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