Review

Food Samples, Japan – Morino Sample 

Can’t decide what to eat? Not sure what foie gras is, let alone what it looks like? Are you in a foreign country and can’t understand the language enough to read the menu? Well don’t worry, Japan has solved all these problems for you with the concept of food samples. These perfect replicas of menu items on offer appear in most restaurant windows and, with a quick game of ordering charades (pointing, gesturing and generally nodding at these displays), you’re likely to end up with a delicious meal that looks somewhat like advertised.
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Of course, food samples also have the added function of enticing diners into an establishment. They do this by being works of art that look so realistic I sometimes want to break the display case and feast. Since my arrival in Japan these inedible, and yet delectable, displays have left me fascinated as to the creative and artistic processes behind them. This is why I found myself at Morino Sample, a food sample factory located in Osaka, to try preparing a food sample myself and to tour the factory where these samples are created.

Located near Hirano Station, a short train trip from the centre of Osaka, Morino Sample factory is an unremarkable shed, surrounded by other identical sheds. If you’re planning on making the trip yourself, don’t bother looking for a sign, biblical or otherwise, just look for the number 1-19, and you’ll have found the right place. Opening the door you’ll be greeted with what resembles a candy land factory but smells like melted plastic. If you’ve booked in advance, which is the only way to get to experience Morino Sample, you’ll be greeted upon entry by a lovely man, whose name I did not catch, sorry! Pretty much immediately you’ll get to work creating your chosen fake food sample.

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When I went, I was with my parents and we chose to make inedible parfaits. I won’t ruin the magic by lengthy explanations but making a fake parfait involves all the steps in making an edible parfait, just using plastic instead of edible ingredients; sauce, ice cream, fruit and, topping. Making the actual parfait was a combination of hands on, demonstration from the instructor and, premade components. It was just the right combination for a figurative taste into the world of making food samples.

However, one of the best parts of the session was getting to go behind the scenes and see the interior of a working food sample factory. The artistry and details of each individual item left me in awe and kind of hungry. I could start to see why an individual item of fake food was so pricey. Everything was hand crafted to perfection, and some of the ways the fake food was being used was hilarious. I really wanted a ramen phone class and a fake food clock. But there were also the serious boxes, full of fake dishes prepared for restaurants, which were so life like I questioned why there was no cooked food smell to them. To keep the process of making food samples a bit of a secret, no pictures were allowed during this part of the session, so you’ll just have to go check it out for yourself.

At the end of the session, our inedible parfait creations were carefully packed up and we got to take them home with us. Therefore, not only did this tour open my eyes to a new art but I also got a cool souvenir, and a great practical joke prop.

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I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Morino Sample, as did my parents. Although the instructor spoke minimal English, and my Japanese is no better than baby talk, there was no real language barrier. Plus, google translate is man’s best friend (sorry dogs). So, if you’re looking for something interesting to do for an hour in Osaka, please check out Morino Sample!

For more information about Morino Sample, please see below:

Address:

〒547-0001 6-1-19 Kamikita, Hirano-ku, Osaka
(10 minute walk from Hirano St, easily accessible from Namba Station – just use google maps and remember to look for the number 1-19)

Website (Japanese only):
http://www.morino-sample.jp/

Phone inquiries (Japanese only):
06-6792-7543

Cost:
3000 JPY per person – includes the factory tour, and everything you need to make a fake parfait (including getting to take it home).
(This is about $35 aud)

Time:
Sessions run in the afternoon for about an hour. Please call to see when sessions are available.

Until next time!

Melissa.

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