Faux Food – The Real Deal in the Far East


Often tourists visiting Japanese islands from elsewhere do not speak and cannot read Japanese. So how do they order food from menu lists written in Japanese?

How do you tell them you want to order a plate of Bologna and shrimp tempura?

Simple. Point to one of those samples in the window and they’ll know what you want.

They look so real that they almost tempt people to take a bite or chew into them. Appealing.

But they don’t seem to have such an admirable origin. It seems that making these fake food items originally were inspired by craftsman making organs and body parts for pathological purposes. They were one day asked to make food items. With that began a revolution in Japan. These meal deals provide you with a 3D visualization of what the restaurant has on offer. It not only gives you an idea of the food item, but also the portion size and its cost. So, you know what you are ordering, if it will fill your tummy and how much it would cost you to eat that food.

The preparation begins of course with the real stuff. Restaurants send samples of the real food. A mould is prepared and used to create the food props.

People often buy these as collectibles too. Key chains, miniatures, fridge magnets, etc can resemble food items. These display fake foods are so real looking that some shop owners make it a point to mention categorically, “these are not to be eaten”.

Even with all the detail built in, for a visiting tourist, it is difficult for an unassuming tourist to differentiate between an egg omelet and a fish cake. Some even complain that the fake food contains more details than is present in the real dish.

Tokyo is the hotbed of this food innovation industry. The Japanese are known for their perfectionist nature. They use cutting edge technology to produce confectionery that is available right on the street.

The consumer is directly exposed to the food processing experience so as not to leave any doubt in their mind about what they are eating.

Machines are used to give that perfect finish to the pastry and baked goods.

In the West, people are used to order food from the menu that comes with pictures sometimes. It might seem a little strange to order food by simply pointing at food samples. But for all you know, if you are a tourist, speaking a western language, you don’t want to end up ordering a very regional Japanese dish that even the Japanese find it difficult to name.

These real-looking samples are however extremely expensive, for all the artwork that goes into its making. So, if you are looking to buy them, visit miniature shops that sell tiny samples of these replicas.

From salads to desserts, they make them all. A Neapolitan, but plastic.

Never mind. They are appetizing definitely. Kudos to the gentleman who thought of using these fake food samples to lure visitors in to his restaurant. It is a billion yen industry today.