These plastic menu items are a tradition in Japan, where for the past several decades they’ve helped overcome language barriers, while also showing off the culinary artistry of their creators.
(Fake) Food Delivery
Justin Hanus, who is originally from Ohio, sells plastic food via his website, fakefoodjapan.com, and claims if you can cook it, they can make a replica that looks good enough to eat.
Where do you see “fake” food? “You see it in department stores, in shopping malls, in underground shopping areas, in touristy places – you see it everywhere,” Hanus told CBS News’ Seth Doane.
Across Japan, realistic-looking food displays are an advertising tool, used by restaurants to demonstrate portion size, and laid out to try to lure customers.
Fake food took root in Japan once Western-style dishes were introduced, said plastic food artisan Fumio Morino. “Customers were unfamiliar with them, so they didn’t sell well. Today, I think it’s as useful as ever.”
True mystery meat.
At Fumio Morino’s Osaka workship, Seth Doane found a sumptuous spread of treats – all completely inedible, of course. It is remarkable craftsmanship, which Marino first learned from his dad.
“My father always said, before you eat something, observe it,” he remembered. “Study its color, patterns, and then you can dig in.”
Pictured: An artist prepares a new delicacy.
Fine Food Art
Each piece is hand-crafted – and making it look “just right” takes a lot of trial and error.
“Shrimp” is made from polyvinylchloride. Soba soup broth is actually urethane.
Kiwi seeds can be created by permanent marker.
An airbrush is a required tool of the trade for this “chef.”
And how expensive is plastic food? “It can get pretty pricy — anywhere from $70 on up,” said Justin Hanus. “But the benefit there is, if you leave it outside it should last for at least seven years in all weather conditions. It’s not going to budge.”
A tempting menu.
Care for some duplicitous dumplings?
Some tempting tempura.
A sampuru display in Osaka.