Trends in Japan > Lifestyle > Fast Food With A Twist
Pizza and Noodles That Can Be Held in One Hand
(March 29, 2007)

Sobasen (Hasamaru)

Innovative varieties of fast food are making some of young people's favorite dishes more convenient and tasty. They include noodles that can be held and eaten with one hand and pizzas that can be consumed on the move. In each case, makers have taken a well-loved dish and turned it into a form that no-one had thought of before. These novel products have caught the imagination of consumers and are set to become common sights around Japan.

Is It a Burger? Is It Noodles?
In a corner of the car park of the Costa Yukuhashi shopping complex in Yukuhashi, Fukuoka Prefecture, sits a bright red van. Women returning home from the shops stop off at the van to buy a unique type of burger called a Kan-nana Noodle Burger. This is in fact a quirky kind of ramen noodles thought up by Sadaishi Koji, who runs a noodle bar on the Kan-nana road (the number-seven circular) in Tokyo while also managing a construction firm.

The Kan-nana Noodle Burger looks like a hamburger, but instead of a beef patty sandwiched in a bread roll, it consists of roasted pork - a standard ramen topping - inside a mass of noodles that have been fried so that they go firm and stick together. A burger with a filling of seasoned chicken balls is also available, and both types cost ¥350 (about $3 at ¥115 to the dollar). The sauce covering the pork and egg that fill the burgers tastes just like ramen broth, and the chewy texture of the dish has also proved popular. Sadaishi is determined to spread these burgers nationwide as a signature dish of Yukuhashi.


The Hasamaru stall (Hasamaru)

Pizza in a Cone
Another kind of noodle sandwich can be found at Hasamaru, a stall in the famous Amerika-mura district of Osaka. Called Sobasen, this dish consists of fried noodles sandwiched between two large prawn crackers. Sobasen was developed by Uenishi Mako, whose father, Takashi, runs Hasamaru. The prawn crackers are filled with thick fried noodles, egg, mayonnaise, and a special sauce. Sobasen cost ¥250 each (about $2.10) and can be eaten on the move. On weekends Hasamaru gets a lot of custom from tourists, while on weekdays local regulars make up most of the Sobasen customers.

Another unusual fast food can be found on the basement food floor of the Printemps Ginza department store in Ginza, Tokyo. Kono Pizza is a pizza base like an ice-cream cone and filled with cheese, tomato sauce, and other toppings. Unlike an ordinary pizza, it can be eaten on the move with one hand. These pizzas are especially popular with young women, and there are often lines of people waiting to get a taste. Over 500 cone pizzas a day are served on weekends.

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