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Doggie bag

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The doggie bag is a foreign concept here. Besides the fact that restaurants aren’t accustomed to packing up leftovers, when’s the last time you couldn’t finish your Japan-sized meal? Well, you may be surprised to learn that a 2008 report found that 3 million tons of food gets thrown away by local restaurants each year.

In response, Aoyama’s Design Store Tokyo has released a posh take on a very unposh concept. The Mottainai Doggie Bag is a reusable polypropylene tote that folds flat, so you can easily bring it along when you eat out. Just in case the waiter gives you a hassle, we recommend committing those above stats to memory. (Metropolis)

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Not true. 'Doggy bags' are long a feature of several restaurants I use around here.

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I'm not a big eater so I often cannot finish my meals easily. It would be really nice to have that, but my girlfriend is usually mortified when I ask for a doggie bag. I've learned to either stuff myself or just let it go to waste.

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I've also had leftovers wrapped up for me at restaurants in Tokyo and have never gotten any guff for asking. I think it's just less common in Japan because portions are smaller.

I've always considered the "doggy bag" concept as a feature of American restaurants. You aren't supposed to eat it all and part of the appeal is that you can enjoy another meal the next day from the leftovers and without having to get dressed up and go out. I explain this to Japanese people who visit the U.S. all the time and most of them are amazed at how easy it is to get everything packed up for later consumption.

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Hello?! Obviously this article was written by a Japanese person who seledom rubs shoulders with foreigners due to there "foreign concepts". I have taken leftovers home for 20 years here in Japan. Orchid64 hits the nail on the head about the smaller portions. There's nothing left to take home. I am always amazed when Japanese say North American portions are "too big". Truly, for anyone who has had a sandwich in Japan, the portions are usually too small. "Where's the beef?" Also, I think it comes from the custom of finishing everything on your plate in Japan, even if you don't like it.

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The phenomenon of leftover food in Japanese restaurants isn't exactly a new concept. It was mentioned in Oishinbo right back near the beginning.

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Looks like a Mister Donut box. lol

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There's no need to order more than you can eat in a restaurant. I've taken bread home, but there usually isn't much else left over anyway.

The idea that the doggie-bag is a foreign concept here is mistaken, though. In Toyama if you visit someone for tea they'll offer you far more in the way of cakes and sweetmeats than you can possibly eat at one sitting, and when you take your leave you'll find your host or hostess has neatly wrapped up all the stuff you didn't eat, so that you can take it home and try again.

If you go to a wedding in Toyama, and I think the same in Nagoya, a good bit of the wedding breakfast will be packed into doggy bags for guests to take home. Sometimes it's even displayed on the table ready-wrapped.

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The doggy bag concept is not patented by Americans. I was born and raised in Europe and have been familiar with it for, uhh, ages. And in the 40 years or so I have been in and out of Japan, in all the restaurants I requested a doggy bag there never was any problem accommodating the request. It's true that North American and European portions are too big. At least for those who wish to lead a healthy life. For my wife and myself one portion is enough for both of us. In Japan food gets thrown away; in North America and Europe people stuff themselves and waste the food that way. Metabolic syndrome, obesity, anyone?

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down here in okinawa restaurants very often try to tell you that you CAN'T take home something if you couldn't finish it due to "food safety" issues. all it takes is reminding them that you did in fact pay for the food, not to mention the "horrible things will happen to you if you don't wrap that up for me to take home" face that I give them if they try to tell me no. hey, I paid, and if I don't or can't eat it all at once, tough for them.

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That looks like a Mister Donuts box!

"Just in case the waiter gives you a hassle"

That only happens if you ask him to wrap up your food. Just take along a couple of plastic bags and throw it in there yerself!

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That only happens if you ask him to wrap up your food.

Never had a hassle in any restaurant in safety Japan. In fact, sometimes I just look at the food I didn't eat and the waiter offers to pack it up for me.

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Leftover food needs to be stored at the right temperature to avoid food poisoning. Some countries are already looking at banning doggy bags due to health and safety considerations.

I don't like wasting food and I try not to order more than I can eat. Japanese and most European portion sizes are right for me, American portions are usually too large.

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The meals in Japanese restaurants are not large and usually very easy to finish. If I have not finished a meal it is because it is disgusting and the only reason I would take it home would be for me dog (if I had one). Therefor, the term 'doggy-bag' is very literal for me.

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in Japan its impossible to get any uncooked meat for takeout. they are afraid to get hit with a lawsuit. In Japan, that spells certain failure for them.

usually they dont even have the containers prepared. it is definitely tacky to walk around with this box though. real buzzkill during a date.

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As long as it is not sushi or sashimi (which you shouldn't take home anyway), Japanese restaurant will ALWAYS pack food for home if one can't finish it. We ask for this quite often, and they never refused. Also, in case of uncooked food, if that place also has a delivery service, they will neatly pack it (be it sushi or sashimi) in plastic with CO2 ice packs so that it survives the road home (not reccomendable anyway). We've asked for food packing even in very high class places, and they always served us nicelly. So, nope, not a new concept at all here. And btw, Japan and Europe wastes far less food than US, so it should be introduced there...

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Interesting, Cleo - despite the proximity of Toyama to Joetsu, where I spent my first two years after leaving uni, I never spent any time there, so I didn't know about the lavish hospitality there.

Incidentally, you can get pretty little boxes to take home any kaiseki leftovers after a full tea ceremony.

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zai -

Yup, you see the guests coming staggering out of the wedding parlour places with a huge bag in each hand, stuffed full of goodies. Standard fare includes shrink-wrapped kamaboko in the shape of a sea bream; boxes of flower-shaped sugar cubes, tea, katsuobushi and a huge cooked sea-bream, all in addition to the meal. At one wedding I went to, the meal included raw matsutake, purposely not cooked so guests could enjoy them at home.

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In contrast to what is trying to be introduced with this idea of the doggie bag here in Japan, in some countries the opposite trend is becoming the case (i.e. doing away with the doggie bag). The reason for this is that some restaurants are worried about court cases due to being blamed for food poisoning from their food being consumed at a later date.

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I love bringing my leftovers home. I most often have leftovers when I dine at Chinese restuarants, very rarely any other. The Chinese restuarants seem to serve larger portions in my area. Yummy!

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