Havana’s Only Japanese Restaurant Just Opened – And They Could Use Your Help!

Cuba is an incredibly popular vacation destination for Canadians because vacation packages are cheap.  Havana, in particular, is very interesting – it’s full of culture, dancing, art, architecture, and interesting people.

During our stay in Havana, we met many locals, got familiar with the local art scene, and tried out some of the newest restaurants.  For a long time, Cuba’s food has been pretty bland, partly because imported spices are difficult to acquire as well as government regulations on restaurant privatization.

Now that private restaurants are allowed, much is changing – we found a microbrewery, Peruvian ceviche, and plenty of fusion food.  However, on one particular day, we were surprised to stumble upon a street restaurant counter with Japanese flags and a hiragana menu!  Tucked away in the popular Habana Vieja district, near the main shopping street of Obispo, Noriko and her Cuban husband opened their restaurant Nippon Shokudo last month, and outside of business hotels, it’s likely Havana’s only Japanese restaurant!

It was REALLY a surprise for us, because we spent a week in Havana, and the only Asian food we encountered was in Chinatown – which doesn’t even have Chinese people!  Needless to say, the Chinese food there is pretty bad, and we pretty much gave up.  Noriko’s food, however, is really Japanese and also oishii!  Her menu items include Tonkatsu, Shogayaki, Katsuudon, Karaage, and Teriyaki, as well as a kick-ass(awesome) mango juice.

Somehow, she’s been able to import a limited amount of Japanese mayo, okonomiyaki sauce, and some other important ingredients into Cuba from Japan, but in our interview with her, she could definitely use miso, ajinomoto, and refill ink (IC69 black – ink, not cartridge) for her Epson 405A printer.  If you plan on visiting Havana from Canada or Japan, please help her out!  According to Noriko, it’s really difficult to get these items in Cuba, and import taxes are extremely high.

Noriko and her husband also hasn’t been able to get chairs and tables, so right now, ever    ything is takeout, which is okay.  Given the amount of local Cubans crowding her stall, we expect this to change soon.  We also asked her some other interesting questions, so please watch our video to find out more about her story.

If you visit Havana, here’s how you can find and contact Nippon Shokudo:


Nippon Shokudo

Near the intersection of Aguacate and San Juan de Dios streets in Habana Vieja.

Phone (Noriko): 54137829

Email: see photo

Note: Make sure you write the above information down before going because internet is extremely rare and expensive in Havana!


A Little Off The Beaten Path At Lake Louise, Banff

Lake Louise is one of Canada’s most famous tourist destinations, and probably a must-see for all visitors to Canada. Many tourists flock to the front of Chateau Lake Louise to snap several photos, enjoy the view, and then leave, but there’s much more adventure behind the lake!

Many take a walk towards the back of the lake.  The trail is well kept and flat, and this is [Read more…]

We May Have Found The Most Difficult Word For Japanese To Pronounce

Do you ever wonder why Tim Horton’s “Rrroll Up The Rim” contest have three R’s And two L’s?

Tim Hortons has an annual contest named “Rrroll Up The Rim To Win” where you roll your coffee cup rim to win prizes.  If you’re feeling really Canada otaku, here’s some interesting information about the game.

The “Rrroll Up The Rim To Win” contest is played every February until around the end of March.

Although we commonly just call it the “Roll Up The Rim game”, you might notice that the official name is spelled with three R’s and two L’s.    In it’s original advertisements on TV and radio,  “Rrroll Up The Rim To Win” was pronounced with a difficult rolling of the “R” sound, like what you might hear in French Canada, or what many Canadian children have to practice in French school.

“Roll” is a pretty difficult word for Japanese to properly pronounce, since it contains an “R” and an “L”, so we think that “Rrroll” might be the most difficult word ever for Japanese to pronounce, and “Rrroll up the rim” would be a 10/10 tongue twister for Japanese.

Check out the video below to see an original TV advertisement to hear the pronunciation.

Also, make sure you check out our video here on how to roll up the rim to win!

Translated by Haruna

Canadian Fast Food Restaurant Secrets

Ready to gain weight?  In this post, we’ll help you get the most value out of your Canadian fast food binge through advice straight from our Canadian correspondents!


You can get a free coffee refill at McDonald’s if you don’t leave the restaurant (take out).  Depending on where you go, you might get one refill, or in some places outside of downtown, more, which means you can drink until you’re bouncing down Bay Street!  McDonald’s coffee is actually really good.  We like it more than the Tim Horton’s regular coffee, though we favor the Tim Hortons dark roast a little more.  Also, don’t forget to use the coffee card and stickers to save up for a free coffee.

McDonald's Coffee Card

Also, you can often save money by using the Mcdonald’s app for your iPhone or Android phone.  The app contains current digital coupons you can use by showing your phone to the staff.  Sometimes, a coupon may disappear from your app.  If it does, go into the app settings, and delete the “App Data”.

Also, the wraps at McDonald’s aren’t bad, but some Japanese may find the sauce too much (sweet, salty).  Ask for half sauce.  You can also ask for packs of chicken nugget sauce to go with your fries – BBQ, Honey Mustard, and Sweet And Sour.  Or, you can keep the sauce to use for later.

McDonald's Outside


Double the onion rings or french fries in your combo by upsizing to a large for only 60 cents more.  Or switch to a poutine for another $2.  You can also order “Frings” at Harvey’s, which is half fries and half onion rings.  Also, check your mailbox for coupons.  They always have coupons available that will bring their combos down to around 5 dollars.

Also, if you don’t like pickles on your hamburgers, but like crunchy pickles by themselves, ask the employee for “pickles on the side”.  They will wrap a bunch of pickles (usually 3, but you can ask for more) separately.

Harvey's Angus Burger

Finally, don’t leave Canada without eating a classic Angus burger at this truly Canadian fast food chain.  Unlike other fast food chains (McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s), the Harveys burgers are thick and actually look similar to the pictures on the boards.   Hopefully, an app similar to the McDonald’s one will be released soon.  At the time of writing, the app only works Harveys restaurants in Winnipeg.

Harvey's Angus Burger

Burger King

We don’t have any great tips for Burger King other than the free paper crown.  It’s great for a last minute costume!  Other than that, we don’t like their pre-made onion rings as much as Harveys.  They also have veggie burgers like Harvey’s if you’re vegetarian, but the Harvey’s one is better.

Burger King Hat


When making your sandwich, you can ask for extra veggies and make your sandwich really fat and healthy. For example, say “lots of lettuce”, “lots of cucumbers”, “lots of green peppers”.   It will become good enough for 2 or 3 meals!  Just make sure you don’t save it for too long, because the sandwich becomes soft and yucky in the bag.  By value, the Subway daily special foot long sub is probably the best.


KFC tastes almost the same in Canada as it does in most places, except maybe the USA since the chickens are fatter on hormones and cheaper than water.  Instead, if you live in Toronto, go to Popeye’s Chicken!  If you live in Vancouver, go to LA Chicken in Richmond instead!  LA Chicken requires a bus ride from the Skytrain, but it’s worth it.

How To “Roll Up The Rim To Win” At Tim Hortons!

Rolling up the rim to win is a time-honoured annual tradition for Canadians.

However, it’s a known fact that it’s really annoying to try to unroll a rim.  Nails have been broken.  Teeth gaps have been uncomfortably filled with wax paper.  In fact, you can actually buy a special pocket tool to help you roll up the rim!

However, there’s an easy way to roll up the rim, and we’ll show you how below.

Step 1.  Ruin your teeth or go crazy trying to roll up the rim by brute force.

Roll Up The Rim Frustration

Step 2.  The better way.  Start by pinching both sides of the cup, with the arrows in the middle.

Roll Up The Rim Pinch

Step 3. Push up with your thumbs.

Roll Up The Rim Push

Step 4. Most of the time you will lose, but at least you’ll learn how to read  “Please try again!” in French (SVP  is short for “s’il vous plait” or “please”).

Roll Up The Rim Play Again

Step 5.  Good luck winning – we did!

Roll Up The Rim Winning

Step 6. You only need to keep a piece of the cup if it’s a food prize.  If you win something big, like a TV, you better keep the cup!

Roll Up The Rim Winning Piece

The Children’s Beans Poem

Here’s a common poem children tend to recite in Canada.  We like it because when translated to Japanese, it sounds incredibly stupid!

Beans, beans are good for your heart!

The more you eat, the more you fart!

The more you fart, the better you feel,

So eat your beans at every meal!


In Japanese:






In Romaji:

Mame, mame wa mahō no furūto!

motto tabe te, motto oto o kanadeyo u!

motto oto o kanadere ba, motto kibun ga yoku naru!

dakara maishoku mame o tabeyo u!


Here’s a second variation!

Beans, beans, the magical fruit!

The more you eat, the more you toot!

The more you toot, the better you feel!

So eat your beans at every meal!


In Japanese:







Mame, mame wa mahō no furūto!

motto tabe te, motto oto o kanadeyo u!

motto oto o kanadere ba, motto kibun ga yoku naru!

dakara maishoku mame o tabeyo u!