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  • Michael Krakovskiy 1:10 am on March 15, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 212-387-8882, 212-420-6370, 212-866-4780, AM 34, Bet Park, , Canned coffee, , , , genius science fiction writer, Iced tea, , , junk food, late genius science fiction writer, , , Pepsi, , , SAM BOK store, skincare products, , , , Unagi   

    Japanese Convinience 

    In one of the stories of the late genius science fiction writer Robert Sheckley, the main character needs crazy and exotic items to cast a spell. Bat wings, eyes of newt, etc, etc. Seemingly hard to find items, yet the character did not have any problems finding them. Why? Because he lived in Manhattan. You can find the most obscure, impossible to locate items in New York. Dried parasitic fungus that feeds on caterpillars? I had no trouble finding it.

    A couple of days ago I made a happy discovery. It looks like Manhattan has it’s own chain of authentic Japanese “konbini” – convenience stores. When I visited Japan, I really liked konbinis. They have 7-Eleven, just like we do, but also Ministop, Lawson, Sunkus and FamilyMart.

    So, what’s different in a Japanese konbini? The variety and quality of junk food that they sell is a lot better. They are stocked with a humongous variety of snacks. Dozens of types of dried squid and fish for beer, Japanese sweets, nuts, edamame, sashimi quality fish, japanese pickles like umeboshi. The variety of soft drinks and genki drinks. They also have Japanese shampoos and skincare products. In short, they are stuffed with Japanese goodness of overpowering variety.

    I’ve been to SAM BOK store at 127 West 43rd Street before. It was nice but not the same as the real Japanese kombini. Also there’s a big Chinese supermarket in my are which has a lot of Japanese stuff. Not the same either. But then I found JAS MART. It even has 3 locations!

    35 St. Marks Place, (Bet 2nd & 3rd Ave), NYC
    Sun – Thur: 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM
    Fri & Sat: 11:00 AM – 12:00 AM

    34 East 23rd Street, (Bet Park & Madison Ave), NYC
    Mon – Fri: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM
    Sat & Sun: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM

    2847 Broadway, (Bet 110th & 111th St), NYC
    Mon – Sun: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM

    They even have genki drinks and Coffee Boss coffe! I’ve been to the one on 23rd street and promptly loaded myself up with goodies. Unagi eel, unagi sauce, roasted rice tea, sencha tea, several types of dried ika and fish, umeboshi, edamame. It’s a little expensive, but hey – beats buying tickets to Japan.

    Coffee Boss is a brand of Japanese canned coffee drinks with a J. R. “Bob” Dobbs-look alike mascot. They are sold in Japanese style soda machines which look rather different from the US Coke/Pepsi machines. They can serve the cans hot or cold. I wonder why somebody doesn’t bring some of these to Manhattan – it looks like the design of soda machines hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years!

    Pocari Sweat is a brand of Japanese sports drink, and despite the name rather tasty I might add. Notice the recycling can next to the machine – apparently the Japanese etiquette requires you to finish drinking your soft drinks next to the machine and not walking around with them. Almost every machine sold unsweetened green tea, in many cases Coke or Pepsi-branded.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 4:37 pm on September 18, 2005 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: acceptable food, , , , Coca-Cola C2, , , , , kobe, Mexican Coke, myth-shrouded beverage, , , Pepsi, , , , , , ,   

    The Taste of the Old New Coke 

    Let me start with one of my favorite quotes from The Matrix:

    Tank: Here you go, buddy; “Breakfast of Champions.”
    Mouse: If you close your eyes, it almost feels like you’re eating runny eggs.
    Apoc: Yeah, or a bowl of snot.
    Mouse: Do you know what it really reminds me of? Tasty Wheat. Did you ever eat Tasty Wheat?
    Switch: No, but technically, neither did you.
    Mouse: That’s exactly my point. Exactly. Because you have to wonder: how do the machines know what Tasty Wheat tasted like? Maybe they got it wrong. Maybe what I think Tasty Wheat tasted like actually tasted like oatmeal, or tuna fish. That makes you wonder about a lot of things. You take chicken, for example: maybe they couldn’t figure out what to make chicken taste like, which is why chicken tastes like everything.”

    There are certain things that you should really taste at least once, but are usually hard to get a hold of to taste, like let’s say top quality caviar, or kobe beef, Peter Luger’s steaks . Other things, like oysters, haggis, Gray Papaya and Nathans hot dogs, high quality sashimi and other notable foods, that might be hard to obtain everywhere, but are still more or less affordable. There are whole lists of “things to try at least once” out there.

    Then there’s a category of items that were eaten in the olden times, but are not considered acceptable food anymore: whale meat, horse meat and other intelligent and/or exotic animal meats. I’ve had whale steaks back in the day, whale meat was widely available in the Soviet Union, as well as horse sausage. Since I ate a lot of hot dogs , I am sure I had my share of cats, dogs and pigeons.

    And of course, there are commercial drinks with formulations that are not made anymore. The first Coca Cola (the one with cocaine), Starbucks Tazo Blended Drinks, Incredibly and Sharkleberry Fin Kool-aid (as well as many other discontinued flavors.)

    I was always especially interested in one soft drink that I never got a chance to taste: the “New Coke.” The myth-shrouded beverage seemed to be out of reach for me, until thanks to the twin wonders that are packrats and eBay, I got my own unopened can or genuine New Coke. That’s a reason for the new installment of Gastronomic Adventures, of course.

    I chilled the $10+shipping can of soda and photographed it in all its glory. Look, just look at it!

    I was expecting the can, that is at least 13 years old (in 1992 New Coke was renamed Coke II) to be completely devoid of carbonation. I was ready for a foul smell, discolored soda, etc. To my surprise, the carbonation was mostly normal and the coke smelled just fine.

    I kind of knew what to expect — in theory New Coke has the same formulation as Diet Coke, except with sugar instead of aspartame, and should taste similarly to Diet Coke With Splenda. I knew that New Coke was supposed to be sweeter than Coca Cola Classic.

    Of course, taste tests are a tricky thing. I am pretty sure I would have a lot of trouble telling Pepsi from Coke from Mexican Coke (the one in glass bottles and sweetened with cane sugar) from Diet Coke (if it’s with ice).

    In any case, decade old New Coke _did_ taste a bit like Diet Coke With Splenda. It was not as sweet as I expected, and had that weird little aftertaste that I always associated with the Splenda Coke. I think in Diet Coke it’s masked by the aspartame and in Classic by higher acidity.

    I seem to have not suffered any stomach upset or anything of that matter. Upsettingly I did not acquire any noticeable superpowers, except the ability to say that I’ve tasted the New Coke.

    P.S. Does anybody know how to obtain some surströmming online or in New York?

    P.P.S. I Know about hufu. I think it’s a hoax.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 10:02 am on August 16, 2005 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 42nd Street – Port Authority Bus Terminal, American culture, Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit, Burma-Shave, Depilation, Interborough Rapid Transit, Myanmar, Norman B. Colp, Pepsi,   


    The long corridor that connects 1-2-3 and N-Q-R platforms (or in other words connecting Interborough Rapid Transit and Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit lines) at 42nd street houses one of the stranger fruits of Art for Transit program. A series of signs that spell out a poem: “OVERSLEPT, SO TIRED. IF LATE, GET FIRED? WHY BOTHER? WHY THE PAIN? JUST GO HOME DO IT AGAIN.”

    This monumental Burma Shave ad-inspired work by Norman B. Colp was supposed to be temporary, but apparently it has served a daily dose of doom and gloom to countless late commuters for a decade or so. I remember seeing it years ago, and thought – what a neat-o keen quirky piece of art. But seeing it again today I thought about those people whose commute actually involves seeing this “artwork” on a daily basis. I guess most people can just tune it out, but I bet that semi-autistic programmers must find it rather unpleasant.

    Burma Shave story in Wikipedia turned out some interesting bits of trivia – the “Free – free / a trip to Mars / for 900 / empty jars / Burma-Shave” ad an the guy who took them up on the offer as a precursor to the Pepsi Harrier jet fiasco.

    I did a bit of digging and found a couple more pieces by Mr. Colp: a series of four blurry pictures of what looks like a shark’s fin titled “Role Model” and series of pictured of water called “The Relative Sameness of Difference“. Yep, it looks like the subway poem signs is his stronger work, although I might say that “Role Model”, which was created for a program that put art in US diplomatic residences is deliciously ironic. It seems like Mr. Colp specializes in art that produces an immidiate response (a chuckle in this case), but is not something that you’d want hanging in one place for a long period of time.

    What’s interesting, is that the abovementioned pages contain his email – ncolp [at symbol] nyc.rr.com, so if you see “SO TIRED” on a daily basis, you can let him know what you think.


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