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Japanese Chain Creates Ramen-Stuffed Doughnuts

Japanese Chain Creates Ramen-Stuffed Doughnuts


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A restaurant chain in Japan has created doughnuts filled with ramen noodles

Would you eat these ramen doughnuts?

First ramen burgers, and now ramen-filled doughnuts? These noodley delicacies have been released into the world from Japan, whose Burger King branches recently decided that an all-black burger was a good idea.

A Japanese restaurant chain called Osaka Ohsho is offering the ramen-noodle filled doughnut “for a very limited time only,” reports Kotaku. The “fusion” item reportedly came from an employee food contest for the restaurant chain, and was the chosen winner amongst 100 entries.

According to Kotaku, the doughnut promises to be “more spicy!” and the interior is filled with “thick ramen noodles in a savory sauce.”

The ramen noodle doughnuts will be available at Osaka Ohsho until September 30 for 210 yen (approximately $2 USD). If you’re in the neighborhood and aren’t afraid of a little carbo-loading, we’d love to know what they’re like.” If all goes well, and even if it doesn't, the ramen doughnut might be headed for the States. Don't say we didn't warn you.

For the latest food and drink updates, visit our Food News page.

Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.


How to Get Your Favorite Chain Restaurant Meal Delivered

IRVINE, CA - DECEMBER 09: Taco Bell is continuing to innovate with tastes and flavors less familiar to other regions, while infusing familiarity and authenticity in every item. The brand has seen a record-setting year for international growth and is on track to open 100+ restaurants in 2019 alone.Photographed during the Taco Bell International Menu Tasting at Taco Bell Headquarters on December 9, 2019 in Irvine, California. (Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Taco Bell)

Photo by: Rachel Murray/Getty

Hungry for a Bloomin’ Onion? How about a Crunchwrap Supreme? We might not be dining at our favorite chain restaurants right now, but their food is still within reach, thanks to delivery.

While all restaurants need our support more than ever, there’s something comforting about eating the same Big Macs and Tour of Italy combos that are beloved by Americans across the country. (And if you make glazed doughnuts better than Krispy Kreme, please invite us over for breakfast sometime.)

And with hundreds of thousands of restaurants available for delivery in more than 4,000 cities in the country, there’s a good chance that some of your favorite chains’ food can be ordered straight to your front door right now.

Below, we’ve put together a list of popular chains and how you can get them delivered (not every restaurant location is linked to the delivery platforms below). Take a break from cooking and order up.

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Starbucks Coffee restaurant and logo seen in Central London.On Saturday, 25 January 2019, in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto)

Photo by: Artur Widak/Getty

Starbucks

Just because you’re staying in doesn’t mean you don’t need a caffeine fix. UberEats, DoorDash, Postmates and GrubHub/Seamless can send Frappuccinos and lattes your way, plus a chocolate croissant or lemon loaf cake if you want a little treat.

Olive Garden

It’s hard not to crave easy Italian. Whether you want chicken parmigiana or fettuccine alfredo, Olive Garden favorites are available in certain areas for delivery through GrubHub/Seamless and DoorDash. Everything comes with their addictive breadsticks, but why not order extra?

Have breakfast in bed without lifting a finger, thanks to UberEats, DoorDash, Postmates and GrubHub/Seamless. Chicken and waffles, stuffed French toast and countless combinations of bacon and eggs are sure to meet your morning cravings.

McDonald’s

The new definition of luxury might be getting McDonald’s delivered to your front door. Indulge by ordering a pack of McNuggets and McFlurry through UberEats, DoorDash, Postmates or GrubHub/Seamless.

Chipotle

Satisfy your hunger with a massive barbacoa burrito or chicken tacos by ordering from UberEats, DoorDash, Postmates or GrubHub/Seamless.

Taco Bell

Few things bring happiness like Nachos BellGrande and Chalupa Supreme. UberEats, DoorDash, Postmates and GrubHub/Seamless can deliver the goods.

Wendy’s

Bacon Jalapeno Cheeseburger, Spicy Chicken Nuggets and a Frosty: the recipe for happiness. Get them delivered from UberEats, DoorDash, Postmates and GrubHub/Seamless.

The Cheesecake Factory

The real challenge here is deciding what to order. While their 250-item menu is slightly limited at the moment, you can still get the Crispy Fish Tacos, Sante Fe Chicken Salad and, of course, cheesecake straight to your door with DoorDash.

Krispy Kreme

Whether you’re a glazed or cake doughnut person, grab a dozen through UberEats, DoorDash, Postmates or GrubHub/Seamless.

Shake Shack

You can’t go wrong with the classic ShackBurger and fries. Order up from UberEats, DoorDash, Postmates, GrubHub/Seamless and Caviar.

Applebee’s

Recreate the Friday Night Lights hangout in your own kitchen with delivery from UberEats, DoorDash, Postmates and GrubHub/Seamless. They’ve got all your favorite finger foods including spinach and artichoke dip, mozzarella sticks and chicken tenders.

Chili’s

Baby back ribs and smoking fajitas are just two of the Tex-Mex favorites you can order from DoorDash. (Margaritas not included.)

Outback

Date night at home? Just feeling fancy? Dig into a Bloomin’ Onion and juicy steaks dropped off by UberEats or DoorDash.


Guy's Ranch Kitchen

Not a fan of eggs, Guy Fieri is in a great mood because his chef friends are making an almost-eggless brunch! Aarti Sequeira starts off with Halloumi Cheese Bites with Beetroot Chutney and turns brunch on its head with Pineapple Upside-Down Cornbread Muffins. Michael Voltaggio dishes up a spin on a pasta favorite with his "Caci-Oat" Pepe. He also mixes up Grapefruit Daiquiris. Justin Warner bakes Cherry Almond Granola and fuses East and West with Bagels topped with Miso Cream Cheese and Ikura. Jonathan Waxman offers up Skirt Steak Tacos and a uniquely delicious Tarte Tatin.

Not Your Grandma's

Guy Fieri is looking for a spin on some classic family recipes. Maneet Chauhan makes Palak Paneer and a halwa-inspired Carrot Cake. Ming Tsai combines a Chinese favorite, pot stickers, with all-American cheesesteak then wows the crowd with his banana leaf-wrapped bass. Jonathan Waxman creates Polish Pierogis inspired by the French countryside, a wood-fired oven Roast Chicken and a Sidecar cocktail that'll drive you wild. Plus, Guy's son Hunter makes his ranch kitchen debut with Fish Tacos inspired by his Grandma Mimi and Tortilla Chips with his own Salsa Roja.

Vegetarian Vacation

Guy Fieri presents his chef friends with a vegetarian challenge, and Elizabeth Falkner makes Curry Cauliflower and Swiss Fondue Naan Pizza as well as travel-inspired Mapo Tofu. Aarti Sequeira brings the spice with her all-veggie Thai Red Curry and lights up the room with a sweet Carrot Halwa. Michael Voltaggio livens things up with a Green Juice Martini and prepares Mushroom Milanese. Finally, Justin Warner whips up a very Veggie Tamale and delicious Cherry Bomb Clafoutis Bites.

Where's the Crunch?

It's crunch time, and Guy Fieri is putting his friends to a texture test. Traci Des Jardins is first up with a tasty and tangy Crunchy Michelada and gets cheeky with Beef Cheek Tacos Dorados. Gerry Garvin tempts Guy with some Crispy Shaved Brussels Sprouts and a Southern Fried Tilapia Po-Boy. Aaron May goes deep with Onion Rings Chicharron and soothes his sweet tooth with Pistachio Brittle with Sea Salt. Christian Petroni makes classic Fried Calamari with Spicy Red Sauce and honors his mom with her Crispy Chicken Cutlets.

The Cheap Cuts

Guy Fieri and his chef friends are all about making dishes with the cheap cuts. Aarti Sequeira whips up some healthy Vegetable Pakoras along with her hometown favorite, Mangalore Buns. Michael Voltaggio starts off with a bold and boozy Brass Monkey before making a meal out of Mussels Escabeche. Justin Warner creates a faux queso for his Tacos con Lengua and spices things up with Sichuan-Inspired Cabbage. Jonathan Waxman beer-braises a Lamb Shoulder with Onions and Turnips and brings this feast to its sweet end with his delicious Applesauce and Maple Cake.

Favorite Sunday Suppers

Guy Fieri and his chef friends make their lazy-day favorites. Eric Greenspan goes all in with his Chicken Schnitzel with Black Olive Brown Butter Sauce and all out with a Banana White Chocolate and Pretzel Skillet Cookie. Antonia Lofaso makes a rich Seafood Fra Diavolo and pairs it perfectly with Charred Rapini. Marc Murphy creates an Escarole Salad with Anchovy Vinaigrette to go with his Baked Four-Cheese Spaghetti. Crista Luedtke goes gluten-free with her garbanzo bean-based Socca and shares one of her restaurant classics, Boon Brussels Sprouts.

Restaurant Recreations

Guy Fieri's chef friends give a tour of the town with some restaurant favorites. Eric Greenspan stirs a Ruby Red and Tarragon Paloma before revisiting a French favorite, Rabbit with Rosemary Spaetzle and Onion Soubise. Antonia Lofaso stays fresh with Vietnamese Spring Rolls and goes fishing with Olive Oil Poached Cod. Marc Murphy dreams of Morocco with a Chicken and Merguez Tagine before coming home to his French roots with Raspberry Souffle. Crista Luedtke grills up a Charred Little Caesar Salad to go with her New Mexico Chili Rubbed Tri-Tip with Avocado Salsa.

Game Day Challenge

Guy Fieri gives his chef friends a game day challenge in the kitchen. Eric Greenspan fries Fingerling Potatoes and serves them with Onion Dip and Caviar before sandwiching some Nashville-style Hot Chicken Tenders on soft Hawaiian Rolls. Then, Eric sweetens the day with Funnel Cake served with Blueberry Marmalade and Whipped Yogurt. Antonia Lofaso treats her Bloody Maria to a lot of tequila and braises some Oxtail Tostadas coupled with Pickled Cabbage, Radishes and Avocado Crema. Marc Murphy goes old-school with classic Lasagna and scores a goal with Twice-Baked Lobster Stuffed Potatoes.

I Dream of Chocolate

Guy Fieri and his chef friends have chocolate on the brain and in the kitchen. Rocco DiSpirito goes all out with Lobster served in White Chocolate Vanilla Bourbon Gravy plus Bacon and Chocolate Monkey Bread. Elizabeth Faulkner starts at the source with Mayan Cocoa Nib Spiced Pork Tenderloin and serves a boozy Chocolate Nog-a-Rita. Jet Tila mixes up some mole for his Mole Poblano Chicken Wings and gives Rocco a run for his money with some Salted Chocolate Banana Bread. Michael Voltaggio makes Cocoa "Blackened Steak" and digs deep for Smoked Carrots with Coffee Mole Dirt.

A Bowl of Lemons

Guy Fieri gives his friends lemons, and they make anything but lemonade. Eric Greenspan makes a citrusy Tom Collins with Black Pepper and Cherries before diving into some beautiful Broiled Lobster with Lemon Sabayon and Fregola with Lemon Parsley Pesto. Antonia Lofaso serves Steamed Clams with Charred Lemon, Preserved Lemon, Parsley and Calabrian Chili to go with Spaghetti with Lemon, Pecorino and Parmesan, and lightens things up with puffy Pavlova with Lemon Curd Whipped Cream. Marc Murphy makes tender Fried Calamari with Lemon Aioli and some Chicken Scallopini with Lemon Caper Sauce.

Childhood Favorites

Guy Fieri asks his chef friends to make their childhood favorites. Maneet Chauhan makes a delicious Goat Lukhmi with Mango Mint Chutney and Shahi Tukra, a deep-fried filo dough treat. Guy's son Hunter makes Chicken "Parm-eroni" based on childhood camping trips and his favorite Garlic Bread. Ming Tsai makes "Ming's Bings," a gluten-free update on an ancient Chinese treat and a mean but Meatless Chinese Spaghetti. Jonathan Waxman starts with Mango Margaritas and whips up an ode to his favorite diner meal, "Joe's Special." Then, he spices things up with Noodle Kugel with Jalapeno Roasted Shallots.

Road-Trip Gems

Guy Fieri asks his chef friends to make some road-trip favorites. Duskie Estes fries up crispy Cauliflower with a Tahini Dipper, Labneh and Smoky Eggplant and dives right into richness with her Pork Belly Gyro. Gerry Garvin whips up a delicious Crazy Burger topped with a fried egg and sweetens things up with a Warm Doughnut Bread Pudding covered in Crispy Bacon. Aaron May creates a dangerously Boozy Date Shake to sip on while preparing his Puffy Tacos. Christian Petroni makes his own Clam Chowder and brings some spice to life with Spaghetti Amatriciana.

Bring on the Street Food

Guy Fieri is craving homemade street food from his chef friends. Rocco DiSpirito is inspired by Italy and makes crunchy Flatbread with Stracchino then travels east for Japanese-Style Street Meat using a custom binchotan grill. Traci Des Jardins mixes things up with a Bun Bowl and fried Churros with Mexican Hot Chocolate Spice Mix. Aaron May recalls a rainy day in London with delicious Fish and Chips and goes underground with a black-market Nutcracker. Jet Tila fills his plate with some Filipino-style Lumpia Eggrolls and a Pork and Pate Banh Mi.

Spring Picnic

Guy Fieri and his chef friends are planning a picnic. Domenica Catelli starts the party with a Tennessee Tart cocktail before grilling up some Lamb Sandwiches with Apricot and Jalapeno Relish. Gerry Garvin serves a simple yet luxurious Lobster Cocktail and jumps to dessert with his Southern Pound Cake. Aaron May builds a Cobb Salad in a Jar to pair with Tomato Sandwiches with Blue Cheese Mousse and his Radish and Cucumber Salad. Christian Petroni gets sweet on Sugar Snap Peas with Brown Butter and Horseradish and roasts some Asparagus with Parmesan, Breadcrumbs and Lemon.


Hello Kitty, Dear Daniel, and LittleTwinStars are here to celebrate a very special day. These wedding plush sets are the perfect gift to celebrate love and the beginning of a beautiful adventure together.

A new year means a new collection from our friends at East/West. Shop casual apparel that will make you feel supercute, super comfy, and sustainable! Each piece is recycled, upcycled, and sourced responsibly to encourage wearing clothing that's good for you and good for the environment.


Himawari Sushi

We didn&rsquot want to leave Tokyo without a visit to a conveyor belt sushi restaurant, and so my brother picked Himawari Sushi since there were a lot of positive reviews for this place. It&rsquos a small single-floor restaurant located in Shinjuku. There is only bar seating available, and it goes in a square shape around the conveyor belt. The sushi chefs prepare the sushi inside this little square with expert speed and precision. As soon as you take a plate off the belt, it gets replaced right away.

As we eventually found out, its prime location is not the only reason why it&rsquos busy. The place is pretty darn legit. People lining up to eat here are a mix of locals and tourists, but with the pricing it&rsquos clear this place is not a tourist trap.

Once you&rsquore seated, you will notice menus placed on the tables that give you an overview of the pricing of the sushi. Prices range from 150 to 350 yen, and if that&rsquos not reasonable for you I really don&rsquot know what else to say. You don&rsquot have to worry about the freshness and the quality either because the sushi is DELICIOUS. I can assure you of that much. I giddily picked plate after plate from the conveyor belt until I had my fill. I can&rsquot remember the last time I ate this much sushi.

The sushi come in different patterned/colored plates depending on its price range. You stack your empty plates once you finish with them, and when it&rsquos time to pay, the cashier will compute your total bill by looking at the colors of the plates on your stack. It&rsquos a fast and efficient system.

By the way, it&rsquos not a good idea to linger and chitchat after you&rsquore done with your meal because there are always people waiting outside to get seated. Japanese restaurants are often quite small, and the seating capacity, especially for popular joints like this one, is small. A normal practice for locals is to leave immediately once they&rsquore done with their meal so the next customer can come in. I find that sometimes we tourists forget this.


Where to Eat Great Dumplings from Coast to Coast

Dim sum dumplings — once the sole province of Chinese restaurants — are having their breakthrough moment. From a fifth-generation chef in Philadelphia folding traditional xiao long bao to a Portland food truck steaming up bacon cheeseburger dumplings for passersby, chefs across the country are delighting diners with dim sum and then some. Whether you like your shumai from a Chinatown dive or in a glitzy nightclub, we've tracked down some of the best dumplings to fit your taste and budget.

Photo courtesy of Phil Design Studio

Atlanta: Gu's Bistro

Boston: Blue Ginger

Chicago: Mott St.

Cleveland: NoodleCat

Washington, D.C.: The Source

If you're looking for great dumplings inside the Beltway, look no further than Wolfgang Puck's stylish bi-level modern Asian restaurant and bar near the National Mall at the Newseum. Purists might pout, but the Austrian chef is no stranger to Asian-fusion cooking, and running the show is Scott Drewno, a longtime Puck protege who's spent decades studying the art of Chinese cooking. On any given day, Drewno makes anywhere from eight to 12 styles of dumplings, but the most-popular is the crystal garlic chive dumplings. Stuffed with flat garlic chives, Maryland crab and Kurobuta pork, they're steamed and then pan-fried to get a crispy bottom. The dumplings are available in the lounge and in the main dining room at dinner.

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Breijo

Denver: ChoLon Modern Asian Bistro

Las Vegas: Hakkasan

Los Angeles: Din Tai Fung

New York: RedFarm

Philadelphia: Dim Sum Garden

Countless Chinese restaurants make xiao long bao, but not many can claim to be run by the great-great-granddaughter of one of the four people who invented the famous soup dumpling back in 1870 in the village of Nanxiang — that would be ShiZhou Da, chef and owner of Dim Sum Garden in Philadelphia, who learned the technique from her grandfather. A Philly Chinatown fixture for years, Dim Sum Garden recently relocated to larger, fancier digs around the corner, but the dumplings, including the signature Shanghai crabmeat and pork soup dumplings, which are still made by ShiZhou Da herself, are just as delicious. Be sure to also try the kitchen's unique pan-fried pork soup dumplings.

Photo courtesy of Phil Design Studio

Portland: The Dump Truck

San Francisco: Yank Sing

It isn't the cheapest dumpling palace in town, but Yank Sing is considered one of the best for freshness and execution. The reigning Chinese brunch specialist draws long lines to its twin downtown branches for specialties such as sliced-to-order Peking duck and minced chicken lettuce cups. But the most-popular item is xiao long bao, or Shanghai dumpling, filled with minced Kurobata pork, scallions, ginger and an aromatic broth. The restaurant sells an average of 1,200 pieces on the weekdays and 2,800 pieces on the weekends, and the dumpling even has its own dedicated cart operated by food servers who have been trained in teaching first-time customers the proper way to eat it.


Satisfy your meat cravings at these yakiniku restaurants in town

The next time you’re craving some meat (without your plant-based friends, of course), perhaps you’ll want to head to a Japanese yakiniku restaurant.

Grilled meats aren’t an unfamiliar concept here. After all, you’ll find throngs of guests waiting in line outside plenty of Korean barbecue restaurants along Telok Ayer street.

Yet, though yakiniku is conventionally believed to have been brought to Japan by Korean immigrants who settled in Osaka, and adapted to local tastebuds, not many think of the cuisine when they hankering for some grilled meat.

(Image credtit: Magosaburo)

It’s easy to see why too: yakiniku spots tend to use pricier meats like wagyu and Kobe beef, as the main focus of the cuisine is to draw out the natural flavour of the meat, and many cuts of beef do not come marinated or pre-seasoned.

If you’re salivating for some quality, melt-in-your-mouth cuts, read on for the best yakiniku restaurants in town.


Destiny Official Cookbook Recipes Revealed

One of the more charming things you may not expect in the world of Destiny is that there’s an entire set of lore all about the foods the characters in the game eat. Ramen was highlighted in the launch trailer for Destiny 2, but there have also been cookies in the form of Gjallardoodles for a questline, and celery instead of Halloween candy that everyone’s favorite party pooper Eris Morn gave you as a “treat.”

With that in mind, Bungie, Insight Editions, and author Victoria Rosenthal have partnered to bring us an official cookbook of real-world versions of Destiny 2’s recipes. Rosenthal, who creates graphics for NASA as part of her day job, has translated many of those items alongside a few cocktails of your choosing.

Each recipe in the book - which is 208 pages long - come with step-by-step instructions and full color guide to help “fans go on their own culinary adventure.” I’m a big fan of trying out new recipes with my wife, and I plan to try out a few of these recipes to share the outcome with you on a future Fireteam Chat episode. In the meantime, check out a few exclusives they sent over to us that you can try for yourself at home in the slideshow below (no word yet on whether or not Radiolarian Pudding from the 2019 in-game Dawning event will be included, but I'm willing to bet it would be white chocolate pudding and be absolutely delicious.)

Destiny: The Official Cookbook is set to hit store shelves on August 4th, 2020 for the retail price of $34.99USD, or $26.89USD if you pre-order on Amazon. To my surprise Insight Editions also have several othere themed cookbooks such as Marvel Eat the Universe, The Elder Scrolls Cookbook, and one that features prominent WWE Wrestlers expressing the importance of a balanced breakfast (“these ham and pineapple stuffed "doughnuts" are a great choice for your first meal of the day, or as your last meal on Earth.” - WWE’s Big Boss Man.)

The Destiny equivalent quote for the Spicy Ramen reads “Spicy Ramen has been a staple here in the Tower for as long as I can remember. Highlighting an incredible combination of flavors and spices, this is one of the best recipes the Golden Age has to offer. Not even the Red Legion could bring down these golden noodles swimming in rich flavorful broth.”

Destin Legarie is a Director of Video Content Strategy at IGN and host of our Destiny Show Fireteam Chat. You can follow him on Twitter or watch him stream regularly on Twitch.


Well, actually, it’s the lack of flavor. We’re not frying food to give it a particular flavor. We’re frying food to cook it through (and get it all nice and crispy). So we want a neutral oil, one without any strong flavor. Vegetable oil falls into the neutral oil category and keeps the flavor of whatever we’re frying pure. We’re taking a strong stance on neutral oil, which might seem counterintuitive, but we refuse to remain. neutral. on the issue.

You use a lot of oil to deep-fry something, and last time we checked, oil costs money. There are definitely other neutral, high-heat oils that work for frying—canola, sunflower, peanut, and rice bran, to name a few—but they tend to cost a whole lot more than our trusty generic vegetable oil. And because it has such a high smoke point, it can be reused—just let it cool after you fry in it, strain through a sieve to get any bits out, and decant it into a bottle for later use.

In short, the best oil for frying keeps things manageable. It keeps the expenses manageable. It keeps the flavor manageable. It keeps the whole frying experience manageable. Which is exactly what you want when you’re looking at a vessel filled with scalding hot triglycerides.


One of these is the Cronut. The other is food plagiarism. And you can’t stop it.


Left, Dominique Ansel Bakery's Cronut, a pastry that melds a croissant and a doughnut, debuted in 2013 and is available only at Ansel's SoHo bakery. Right, the Croissant Doughnut from Dunkin' Donuts was introduced a year later, and aims to capitalize on foodies' desire to try the real thing. (Left photo by Thomas Schauer right Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

To taste a Cronut — an actual, legit Cronut — you must be willing to brave the sea of humanity that amasses each morning outside Dominique Ansel Bakery in Manhattan.

You can also go to a Dunkin’ Donuts in pretty much any city and order something that’s kind of like Ansel’s iconic pastry, cut from croissant dough and then deep fried. Or, in Sacramento, you could have a Doissant. In San Francisco, you can scarf down a Cruffin, which is not a doughnut at all, but hey, close enough.

Given how fast food trends emerge and travel, it’s not surprising that there’s a Cronut, or Faux-nuts.

But the hottest food trend of the past five years may be copycatting.

And the examples go way beyond the Cronut.

Kimchi quesadillas and short-rib tacos were the brilliant pairings that launched Los Angeles’s Roy Choi and the Kogi food trucks — and then set off an echo-boom of Korean-taco knockoffs. New York’s Doughnut Plant claims to have cooked up square jelly doughnuts nearly a decade ago but now you can have one at Washington’s Astro Doughnuts. Do you drool over the over-the-top cakes with ganache drippings that Australian home baker Katherine Sabbath posts for her nearly 300,000 Instagram followers? Buzz Bakery can sell you an “homage,” and so can plenty of other shops from New York to California.

And for a doughy bun overstuffed with a slab of fatty pork belly and a schmear of hoisin, you can head to one of the restaurants in David Chang’s growing Momofuku empire, or any of the quintillion American ramen shops made in Momofuku’s image.

“Once upon a time, a chef produced something, and it slowly made its way around, by people eating there, by word-of-mouth, by traditional media,” says David Sax, author of “The Tastemakers,” which traces the evolution of food crazes. This is how it worked in the days of the Caesar salad and the baked Alaska.

But if cooking has always revolved around adapting and perfecting existing dishes, why does this feel different?

One word: speed. “It’s happening so quickly, it’s impossible to control,” says Sax.

Point a pastry-cream-covered finger at Instagram, which provides the blueprints for bakers in Ohio and Jakarta to start food-coloring perfectly good bagels the unholy hues of a Grateful Dead T-shirt. And don’t forget the foodies, eager and willing to gobble up the edible equivalent of a fake Fendi bag.

But unlike the purses of Canal Street, food copycats may even affirm the value of the real deals and turn an unknown chef who spawns a trend into a household name.

If no one copies your pork bun or your rainbow bagel, “if nobody cared enough to even imitate it,” says Sax, that means “it doesn’t resonate with anyone.”


Washington’s Takorean makes Korean tacos, including this one with caramelized tofu and spiced kale with lime crema. (Kate Patterson)
Little Sesame, a new Washington hummus shop, offers a bowl topped with beets, hazelnuts and herbs that’s similar to a dish served at Philadelphia’s Dizengoff. (Lavanya Ramanathan/The Washington Post)

James Beard Award-winning chef Mike Solomonov and his business partner, Steven Cook, have opened several popular Philadelphia eateries: Israeli restaurant Zahav a hummus place known as Dizengoff and a Korean-chicken-and-doughnuts joint called Federal Donuts. And his fans, he says, email him when they spot what look like plagiarists.

Dizengoff serves a hummus bowl with beets and hazelnuts, and in Washington, hummus restaurant Little Sesame serves a hummus bowl with beets and hazelnuts. Phoenix’s Welcome Chicken + Doughnuts looks a lot like Federal Donuts.

“It’s sometimes a little bit weird,” Solomonov confesses. “You’re, like, ‘Wow, they’re doing Korean fried chicken and doughnuts?’ Wouldn’t they want to do something different?”

But he’s learned to shrug it off. “We didn’t invent Korean fried chicken, and we didn’t invent cake doughnuts,” he says.

In fact, he’s convinced that somewhere in Israel, a chef is looking at his restaurants and yelling, “What the $*#)?”

“We all copy each other anyway,” he says. “Especially when you’re young and inexperienced — you do what you know is going to make people happy.”

Sometimes, however, the plagiarist isn’t a naive young chef. Burger King boldly hawks the Big King, which is exactly what it sounds like: an uncanny match, double patty for double patty, sesame-seed bun for sesame-seed bun, for McDonald’s Big Mac. Another burger chain, Red Robin, has begun serving a towering new sammy that unabashedly apes New York chef Keizo Shimamoto’s behemoth trend food, the Ramen Burger.

In March, frozen-yogurt chain 16 Handles unveiled MMMilk & Cereal, a cornflakes-flavored treat that chief executive Solomon Choi proudly declared “you won’t see anywhere else.”

But we have: At Milk Bar dessert shops, where Christina Tosi’s Cereal Milk soft-serve has been one of the most iconic sugar rushes of the past decade.

“MMMilk & Cereal” was hastily renamed “Cereal Bowl,” but it remained on 16 Handles’ taps.


Cereal Milk has been a staple soft-serve flavor at Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar for years. Last month, frozen-yogurt chain 16 Handles unveiled a flavor it called MMMilk & Cereal. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Chefs can protect the names of their unique creations – think Boardwalk Fries, the Cronut or Coca-Cola — says Michael F. Snyder, a Philadelphia lawyer experienced in food industry intellectual property law. It’s far harder, he says, to prove that someone’s dish is a knockoff, mostly because it’s a high bar to prove that yours is original.

What about a recipe? Forget it. In the eyes of the U.S. Copyright Office (and the courts), recipes are just lists of ingredients that can’t be copyrighted neither can a chef copyright a work derived from something that already existed. And what chef can argue that they’ve created not only a new dish, but also the cooking techniques that went into it?

Designs, like the ridges in a Ruffles potato chip, can be copyrighted if they’re unique, Snyder says, but once a chef cooks a dish on a television show or publishes a cookbook, a business secret becomes fair game.

Even so, Ansel published a version of his Cronut recipe for home cooks. “I don’t think worrying about imitators is a healthy way to create,” he says by email. “Protecting yourself and your intellectual property is something I’ve had to learn to do.” Ansel trademarked the Cronut name, but not for the reasons you might expect. He was prompted, he says, by “trademark trolls, who sweep in and trademark something they didn’t create and later prevent the creators from using the name.”

And he doesn’t think that plagiarism is just part of the business. “Quite the opposite, actually,” he says. “I think the nature of the business is for chefs to create and express their own styles.”

For eons, dining has evolved as ideas are built upon ideas. A new dish tweaking some stale old dish emerges. Chefs also pass on techniques to their underlings.

“Plenty of people know how to make our hummus,” Solomonov says of his former chefs. “There are no secrets.” A restaurant’s real intellectual property, he argues, are the intangibles: service, consistency, mood and ambience. “It isn’t the recipes at all.”


Philadelphia chef Mike Solomonov says that fans write him when they see knockoffs of his dishes around the country. (Mike Persico)
Chef Keizo Shimamoto created the Ramen Burger, modeled after Japanese street food and the fare at In-N-Out Burger. Now, chain Red Robin offers a version. (Aaron Davidson/Getty Images for Food Network SoBe Wine & Food Festival)

Perhaps this is why chefs rarely call one another out publicly for food plagiarism but do frequently accuse each other of stealing a concept, a name or a restaurant’s look. Often, they do it in a good old-fashioned legal filing, says Snyder.

In one of the most memorable cases, the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on whether one Texas fast-food chain, Two Pesos, had mimicked the appearance of another, Taco Cabana. It awarded millions to Taco Cabana.

In New York, the Kati Roll Company sued in 2014 when a competitor opened with a similar name and common colors in its logos and interior design, not to mention dishes that smacked of food plagiarism.

The rival’s response? If the food was similar, wasn’t it because both restaurants served traditional Indian food, which is thousands of years old?

The other restaurant eventually changed its name, but it had a point.

Who can lay claim to dishes that seem to have appeared out of nowhere and spread like wildfire? Who knows who fried the first batch of crispy Brussels sprouts, or who first eyed a flavorless iceberg-lettuce salad and decided to use kale instead?

It’s an “industry where no idea is truly original,” says Sax, although these days, chefs do “take credit for stuff. They Instagram it, and they hashtag it. That’s the currency by which they’re building their brand.”

David Chang, he says, didn’t create ramen. “Dominque Ansel did not invent doughnuts or croissants, or even some cream-stuffed proofed dough pastry.”

Of their copycats, Sax says, “while it may seem like intellectual thievery and rip-offs, fundamentally, this is how the culture of food moves forward.”

“If a chef puts something on their menu that they weren’t the first to do, that’s not a crime. That’s cuisine.”


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Comments:

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