Saturday, August 28, 2010

Recap of the Healthy Food & Green Festival

So if you didn't make it out to the Healthy Food and Green Festival this past Sunday, this is what you missed:

The festival had its high and low moments because of the rain, but it wasn't completely disastrous. If it poured for the whole day straight through, then it'd really suck. Fortunately, the rain was sporadic, dampening only a short segment of our festival and by no means extinguishing our spirits. Despite the weather, our vendors came with lots of boisterous enthusiasm, warmly welcoming all visitors and presenting their goods with all the energy of a bright summer day.

The vendors spiced it up a notch at this festival, donning costumes and vociferously proclaiming their goods. It felt like being in an exciting sports game; the fanfare and friendly competition among the vendors provided free entertainment of sorts and gave the event some fun. There was the Go Restaurant fish man selling temaki and yakisoba, the bandit-masked girls of East Restaurant (44th street location), who happened to complement the cowboys of Otokomae in the neighboring booth. Hakata Tonton's executive chef Koji Hagihara wore his pig mask again (advertising his restaurant's signature tonton pork) and was seen posing for numerous tourists' cameras. We spotted plenty of summery yukata, worn by the folks at Nu Skin and O planning's staff, who were selling healthy okonomiyaki, or as they called it, "teriyaki pizza."

The festival at about noon

Go Restaurant

East Japanese Restaurant (44th St. location)

Hakata Tonton Executive Chef Koji Hagihara
O planning
Some healthy food highlights worth mentioning included Suzuki Farm's wide range of fresh, organic Japanese vegetables. Asahi Ryokuken offered free shots of their Ryokko Aojiru health drink, Ajinomoto offered shrimp gyoza and edamame gyoza. Thirsty visitors' options were the plenty of ramune being sold and a wide array of refreshing tea drinks available at the Ito En booth. Those with a sweet tooth had plenty of options at Cafe Zaiya, Beard Papa's, Katagiri, and East Japanese Restaurant.

There were also an abundance of free samples available, something that wasn't as present at the last festival. Negiya's fried chicken wings, Aojiru, Salonpas, teriyaki chicken, even tenugui were offered free all day or for a limited time. There was also the free taste tests by Kikkoman Pearl Soymilk and Yakult, which both gave people a sampling of their flavors in exchange for their opinion.

Goya from Suzuki Farm

Grilled eel from East Japanese Restaurant (55th St. location)

Ito En green tea


Organic ramen salad from Souen

Tanichico-yaki from Otokomae

Tofu Steak from East Japanese Restaurant (44th St.)

Yakult probiotic drink

Kikkoman Organic Pearl Soymilk taste tests

Kids enjoying shaved ices

Ajinomoto Edamame Vegetable Gyoza

Daifuku from Katagiri

Aojiru barley grass drink

Negiya's organic tebasaki
Marukome Miso Yaki sauce
Sushiden sushi

Mochi ice cream from Beard Papa's
We would also like to thank all the chefs who participated in the JRO Essence of Japanese Cuisine Demonstrations. Renowned chefs Fred Sabo and Billy Strynkowski gave demonstrations throughout the day on how to cook and prepare healthy, homemade Japanese dishes using ingredients such as miso and tofu. There were also demonstrations by chefs from our vendors and sponsors such as Marukome, Otafuku, Hakata Tonton, and Souen. These chefs demonstrated essential Japanese healthy cooking and dishes using tofu, macrobiotic principles, fish, mentaiko, and okonomiyaki. Guests participated in post-demonstration taste surveys of products and were rewarded rewarded with gift bags filled with our sponsors' products. We do acknowledge that there was a miscommunication over the amount of Marukome gift bags available, and we humbly apologize to our disappointed guests.

Jenna Zimmerman, Billy Strynkowski, and Fred Sabo hosted the demonstrations

Line for tastings after the demonstrations

Gift bags for completing surveys

Marukome miso gift
We realized that some things didn't go according to plan. Beard Papa's actually couldn't bring their cream puffs (yes, we were just as disappointed) because they had to stick to a certain level of quality. They explained that their puffs are always made fresh and are supposed to be eaten immediately and would've gone bad if they were kept at the booth for the whole day. Instead, they sold some mochi doughnuts injected with the same vanilla cream custard as well as everything else on their menu, such as mochi ice cream and mango dessert.

One of our favorite parts had to be when the rain became so torrential that the Information tent buckled under the weight of the water and collapsed onto one of our team members inside. He was saved by a dozen vendors and JapanTown staff, who all ran out into the deluge to rescue him and the booth's contents. (A big thanks to the vendors who helped us!) Seriously, we thought this example of team spirit in the face of adversity represented the mood of the entire festival. We wish we had pictures of that to show you! It was quite a dramatic scene. Here are some soggy moments:

Hiro Takenaga, the director, was prepared for this weather

The rain only stopped a few from joining us on Sunday, and in between spouts the street was actually pretty busy. We thank everyone who visited and welcome everyone to the Soul Food Festival on September 26th, when we'll be featuring Japanese regional comfort food specialities! Stay tuned for more info on the upcoming vendors, special offers, and products that will be available! We hope to see you then!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Nikkei Weekly: Japanese Business News Straight From the Source

The Nikkei is one of the leading economic and marketing newspapers in the world. A peer of The Wall Street Journal, the Nikkei consists of five different newspapers, one of which is The Nikkei Weekly, Japan's only English-language newspaper for disseminating Nikkei's economic reporting to a worldwide readership. The Nikkei Weekly incorporates a selection of major articles published in Nikkei's four Japanese newspapers to provide professional yet easy-to-read articles on the economy, industry and finance in Japan and Asia, in precise, polished English. Visitors to the Healthy Food and Green Festival will receive a free issue of The Nikkei Weekly as well as a month of free access to with a subscription to the newspaper. Anyone with any interest in the Japanese market and trends in Japan in general, The Nikkei Weekly is for you.

JapanTown Welcomes Sophisticated Bath Fixtures Leader TOTO to the Scene!

JapanTown is happy to welcome TOTO to the Healthy Food and Green Festival tomorrow! For almost a century, TOTO has been supplying houses and commercial buildings with high quality, energy and water efficient plumbing products. TOTO has been years ahead in their knowledge and practice of water and energy conservation, which has enabled them to become the world leader in plumbing products. TOTO will be demonstrating their life-changing, state-of-the-art toilet seat, the Washlet! This high-tech energy efficient facility has more functions than your iPhone. You can find a Washlet right here in New York, the JapanTown team saw one at Curry-Ya. Make sure you stop by the TOTO booth to check out these futuristic looking, sustainable toilets!

Cafe Zaiya Brings Japanese Pastries to JapanTown!

A New York favorite, Cafe Zaiya has been serving fresh, delicious Japanese bentos, pastries and cafe drinks for years. You may remember at the Cool Japan Festival, Cafe Zaiya served delicious pastries and ice cream in exotic green tea and black sesame flavors. Check out Cafe Zaiya's booth at the Healthy Food and Green Festival for delicious sweets!

EarthSmart Helps Green Up JapanTown

People who have been following the Healthy Food Festival news have probably wondered what makes this festival "green"? Well, our vendors will be using EarthSmart disposable dishware for their food! EarthSmart tableware and trays are made of Bagasse, an all sugarcane by-product that is sustainable and renewable. In addition to being environment friendly, EarthSmart products are also heat stable, meaning they can be used in the microwave, and they are also water- and oil-resistant, which makes them convenient for use in the refrigerator or freezer. So waste not tomorrow with EarthSmart tableware!

Beard Papa's Brings Organic Cream Puffs to JapanTown

Ever heard of Beard Papa's? This delicious pastry shop is one of the few chain stores that offers all-natural, organic, addictive pastries. Beard Papa's is big in Japan and has been a huge commercial success worldwide. They are especially popular in California and Canada, with about 10-16 stores in each location. They have settled down in the United States' East Coast and seduced New Yorkers with one giant cream puff at a time. Beard Papa's used to have several stores in New York, but unfortunately only one remains - their Upper West Side one.  

Things to Do and Eat at Tomorrow's Healthy Food & Green Festival

The Healthy Food & Green Festival is tomorrow and here's a sample of all the good eats and stuff that we'll have! There's also the JRO Essence of Japanese Cuisine Demonstrations happening throughout the day as well. Four demonstrations (Dashi & Umami, Okonomiyaki, Mentaiko, and Soybeans) will have free tastings afterwards and gift bags filled with our sponsors' products for those who participate in giving us feedback. The festival has so much more that we can't fit into this post, so come tomorrow (Sunday, August 22nd) from 11 AM to 6 PM to check us out! We're on Madison Avenue between 43rd and 45th Streets. Hope to see you there!

Forty-Eight Hours Before the Healthy Food & Green Festival...

It's late Friday night before Japantown's Healthy Food & Green Festival this weekend, and the entire team is still running around to tie up some loose ends.

Here's one interesting highlight of our day: our shipment of nobori (long, narrow Japanese banners commonly used in festivals and events) with the JapanTown logo just came in and we all pitched in to assemble them. For a moment there, it looked like we turned into a small flag-making factory! It was lots of fun. We got 50 nobori for our compact two-block festival, and they're super tall to ensure that people will be able to spot us for miles away. Nobori are apparently unheard of in the U.S., so we had to order them from Japan, where we found a manufacturer that made environmentally-friendly poles - quite fitting for our Healthy Food & Green Festival!

Map of the Healthy Food & Green Festival!

It may not seem like it, but we got a lot of stuff packed into two blocks. Food demonstrations will be happening all day in the JRO area in the center, food vendors will be on the left of the street, and most non-food vendors on the right. It's laid out this way because we're trying to facilitate traffic to avoid a massive crowd like the one at last year's fair. Please use this handy map to help you plan your itinerary for this Sunday. We'll give you details about the vendors' updated menus and products soon, so stay tuned!.

Friday, August 20, 2010

House Foods America Offers Taste and Comfort

JapanTown welcomes House Foods as a sponsor at the the Healthy Food and Green Festival! House Foods is the top-selling tofu seller in the United Sates, using only non-genetically engineered, United Sates grown soybeans. House Foods is very concerned with the versatility of nutrition that soy and tofu offer, including weight, bone healthy, and pregnancy health benefits. For their customer's convenience, House Foods offers over a dozen different variations of tofu, and recommends tofu recipes for a very flavorful, healthy experience. House Foods will also be providing the tofu for the two demonstrations at the JRO Essence of Japanese Cuisine exhibit. Make sure you stop by the Healthy Food and Green Festival to check out House Foods for an exquisite experience in tofu!

Love Your Insides with Yakult!

JapanTown welcomes our new sponsor, Yakult, the brand well-known for its delicious nutritional fermented dairy drink. For 75 years Yakult has been improving digestion and nutrition worldwide. They strongly believe that a healthy intestinal tract will lead to a long life. Similar to yogurt, Yakult contains probiotics, or "good bacteria," which combats harmful bacterias in your digestive system, allowing your body to build up natural defenses. Yakult also conveniently comes in multiple sizes, their signature brand being the 1 shot bottles (2.7 ounces) for adding to your daily diet. There are also comes in different flavors, including apple, orange and grape. The name Yakult is derived from the Esperanto word for yogurt. The Yakult website contains an abundance of information on proiotics and about their particular strain lactobacillius casei, for those who are interested. Stop by the Healthy Food and Green Festival on Sunday to have a taste some Yakult!

Visit Suzuki Farm for Organic Japanese Ingredients

Founded in Delmar, Delaware, Suzuki Farm has been offering the East Coast fresh, organic, chemical and pesticide-free Japanese vegetables for 26 years. On their 28-acre farm, they grow more than 30 kinds of vegetables that are essential ingredients in Japanese cuisine, including organic daikon radishes, kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), edamame, and fuki (Japanese rhubarb), mame yuzu (a citrus fruit), and gobo (burdock). It's not easy to find locally- and organically-grown Japanese produce in NYC, so come visit Suzuki Farm at the Healthy Food & Green Festival this Sunday! Perhaps our JRO Essence of Japanese Cuisine demonstrations will inspire you to cook up some delicious okonomiyaki or macrobiotic dish, and so you can pick up your ingredients at Suzuki Farm. Additionally, we'll have reusable totes for you to carry your purchases!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

This Versatile Towel, Tenugui, is Making Big Steps in Fashion and Therapy

Wuhao New York specializes in Japanese tenugui, a traditional towel that is used for everyday household uses but has become a very popular internationally in the fashion market. Tenugui have also been used as a bandana, giftwrap, or simple decorations. Wuhao will be demonstrating some of the versatile uses of tenugui at the Healthy Food & Green Festival, exercising the Japanese expression "Mottainai," or "Don't waste." They have also invited guests from the Ohashi Shiatsu Institute to demonstrate (on willing participants) how tenugui can be used for Shiatsu massage therapy, developed by Ohashi Institute themselves. All visitors are welcome to a ten minute tenegui shiatsu massage by these trained professionals, and the first 50 customers will also receive a free Wuhao mame-shibori tenegui!

New Accessories Vendor for Sunday's Festival

A new vendor at the Healthy Food & Green Festival is Tesage by Yukiko Sato. Tesage bags and purses are smart and efficient as well as water resistant due to a micro fiber lining.

Ramen + Salad = Healthy & Delicious Snack

A couple weeks ago we posted a review about the restaurant Souen, and here's a pic of what they will be serving at the Healthy Food and Green Festival: organic ramen salad! This nutrition-packed recipe consists of cold ramen noodles with vegetables, seaweed, corn and sesame seeds with a sesame vinaigrette.

A Real Tea's Tea

One of our sponsors, Ito En, will be offering two of their most popular tea brands: Oi Ocha and lightly sweetened Tea's Tea. Oi Ocha is an all natural unsweetened tea drink that includes catechin tea antioxidants. The Tea's Tea green tea is naturally sweetened with Cane Sugar. All of Ito En's products are authentically brewed and contain all natural products for a healthy, flavorful tea taste. Tea lovers make sure you stop by their booth at the Healthy Food and Green Festival this Sunday!

Some More Miso For Your Meat?

Our sponsor Marukome, a worldwide manufactuer of miso, will be selling misoyaki (miso-marinated beef) at the Healthy Food & Green Festival this Sunday. One of their many miso products is a misoyaki marinade sauce called, well, Miso Yaki. This sauce is a savory miso-based sauce used to marinate and enhance the flavor of meat and fish.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

JRO Essence of Japanese Cuisine Demonstration Schedule

We're pleased to announce our demonstration schedule for the Healthy Food & Green Festival! There will be a stage in the center of the festival (Madison Avenue between 43rd & 45th Streets), where well-regarded chefs from the New York restaurant world as well as food experts will present the basics of Japanese cuisine and demonstrate how to use some Japanese ingredients. Free tastings follow the Dashi & Umami, Okonomiyaki, and Mentaiko Demonstrations.

The Essence of Japanese Cuisine

The upcoming Healthy Food and Green Festival is not just about new and healthy Japanese products but a celebration of a healthy lifestyle based on basic Japanese ingredients.

Japanese cuisine is generally very low in cholestorol, which is explained by some of the staple foods found in Japan. For example, in almost every Japanese meal, you will find rice that is rich in carbohydrates (good for energy), contains vitamin D, calcium, fibre and iron, and is low in sodium; so it is recommended for people suffering from high blood pressure. In meals that don't have rice, you may find Japanese noodles such as soba or udon that are very nutritious as well. In addition to being rich sources of carbs and vitamins, udon noodles were discovered to have incredible digestive enzymes which dissolve in the stomach much faster than other pastas and noodles, and three times faster than beef.