With dwindling food resources, a swelling population, and a growing focus on environmental sustainability, the global insect food industry continues to thrive. Although a bit late to the game, Japan is also showing interest in the edible bug market.

Traditionally, insects have had a place in Japanese cuisine. In Gunma, Nagano, Gifu and Miyazaki Prefectures, for example, there is a long tradition of eating bee larvae, locust and stonefly larvae in the countryside, all of which are also locally canned and sold to this day. However, for many urban-dwelling Japanese, insects are still an unusual food source, and one which will take a bit of getting used to.

Mog Bug: A fashionable bug food brand for women

One of the leaders in the movement to help popularize insect food in Tokyo is Kome to Circus, an izakaya style gastropub in the Takadanobaba neighborhood of Tokyo which, as we reported before in 2016, is known for including gourmet insect fare on its exotic menu.

Now, three years later, operating company Miyashita Kikaku Co., Ltd. has created a new brand of insect food produced by Kome to Circus. Since women are often at the forefront of food trends, they enlisted the help of designer Aya Onda and launched MOGBUG, insect snacks geared towards women and sold in colorfully designed packages.

MOGBUG comes in seven varieties, each priced at 1,000 JPY a bag: crickets, superworms, sago worms, mole crickets, silkworms, rhino beetles and scorpions.

To increase the brand's visibility and generate some buzz, on July 9th, they installed a specially designed vending machine and placed it in front of the upscale "meat and cheese" specialty restaurant Laffine Akihabara, conveniently located one minute from Akihabara station. MOGBUG and other brands of insect food, snacks and bars can be purchased 24 hours a day. (Address listed below)

Collaboration Cafe with Idol Group Ichizen! and Laffine

Between September 16th and November 17th, you can enjoy MOGBUG products at Laffine Akihabara in a special collaboration cafe with idol group Ichizen! Nanami Shinomiya 篠宮奈々美, Ruka Usami 宇佐美るか and Nana Hirano 平野七夕 of Ichizen! created original menu items featuring super worms, crickets and mole crickets. They'll also be providing recipes for your to enjoy at home.

Through this special collaboration, as idols who are conscious of beauty and healthy diet habits, the three hope to promote insects, a nutritious and sustainable food source with a low impact on the environment, from a woman's point of view.

Let's take a look at the buggalicious dishes they came up with:

Nyoronyoro Superworm Caesar Salad: 1,700 JPY

Finding a worm in your salad is usually an annoyance, but here, the worms are an integral part of the dish. Although the Nyoronyoro にょろにょろ in this salad's name means wriggling or squirming in Japanese, you can rest assured that these superworms won't be moving. In fact, they're quite dead and dried, and pleasantly crunchy. What's more, they're actually replacing croutons in this Caesar Salad. With a taste reminiscent of soy beans, they're a perfect match for the cheese sprinkled on top. And unlike bread croutons, superworms are rich in protein, calcium, magnesium and iron, so they're a healthier alternative.

The package of MOGBUG superworms costs 1,000 JPY, and the salad costs 700 JPY, for a total cost of 1,700 JPY. Not all superworms are used, and you can bring home the remainder in its original package for you to try at home in a salad or in the following recipe:

Nana Hirano came up with this recipe to try at home and called it 【スーパー和ーム】 Super Wa-mu, adding a play on words with 和 wa, meaning Japanese. In case you hadn't guessed it, it's a Japanese dessert featuring superworms, with matcha ice cream, vanilla ice cream, dango rice dumpling, anko red bean paste and kuromitsu Japanese molasses drizzled on top.

Spicy Cricket and Avocado Dip: 1,600 JPY

This dish uses UK insect food brand Eat Grub's Sweet Chili & Lime Crunchy Roasted Crickets and matches them with a creamy avocado dip. Nutritionally rich avocados and crickets rich in protein, amino acids, minerals and healthy oils make for a tasty and healthy collaboration, which pairs nicely with a glass of sparkling wine or white wine.

The package of roasted crickets costs 800 JPY, and the dip costs 800 JPY, for a total cost of 1,600 JPY. Not all crickets are used, and you can bring home the remainder in its original package for you to munch on or use in the following recipe:

Nanami Shinomiya's recipe is called 【秋を伝えるコオロギの春巻きセット】Aki wo tsutaeru kōrogi no harumaki set (cricket spring roll set conveying the mood of autumn). While it may have its seasons mixed up in the title, the recipe looks quite tasty, with a combination of fried and fresh spring rolls filled with lettuce, ham, cream cheese, and of course, Sweet Chili & Lime Crunchy Roasted Crickets. Nanami even included corn to add a dash of yellow, which is her color in Ichizen!

Sakusaku Cute Mole Cricket Parfait

Sakusaku in Japanese means crunchy, and this parfait of matcha and vanilla ice cream on a bed of corn flakes uses cute MOGBUG mole crickets as a tasty accent. It almost looks like they're climbing on top of the ice cream. The mole crickets don't have a strong flavor so they blend in with the corn flakes but are rich in protein, calcium in iron, so it's a guilt-free dessert!

The package of MOGBUG mole crickets costs 1,000 JPY, and the parfait costs 600 JPY, for a total cost of 1,600 JPY. Not all mole crickets are used, and you can bring home the remainder in its original package for you to try at home as an ice cream topping or in the following recipe:

Ruka Usami's came up with this simple but delicious Cheese and Mole Cricket Omelet for you to try!

MOGBUG x Ichizen! x Akihabara Laffine Collaboration Cafe Details

  • Dates: Sep. 16th to Nov. 17th
  • Time: Dinner only (17:00 to 5:00)
  • Where: Laffine Akihabara
  • Address (JP): 東京都千代田区神田佐久間町2-14-7 EIWAビル2F
  • Address (EN): 2F Eiwa Bldg., 2-14-7 Sakuma-cho Kanda Chiyoda-ku Tokyo
  • Access: 1 min. walk from JR Akihabara Sta. Showa-dori Exit and Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line Akihabara Sta. Exit 1
  • >Telephone: 03-5829-9317
  • Website: Laffine Akihabra

When you visit:

  • 1. Buy the package(s) corresponding to the menu items you intend ordering from the MOGBUG vending machine on the 1st floor
  • 2. Go to Laffine Akihabara on the second floor.
  • 3. Tell the restaurant staff you intend having the "collaboration menu" and give them the MOGBUG package(s)
  • 4. In the kitchen, the cooking staff will use half of the package and prepare the dishes you ordered.
  • 5. At the end of your meal, you can take home the package with the remaining half of the contents for you to make the suggested recipes at home or use as you wish.

About Ichizen!

Ichizen! stands for the seven-member idol group's motto phrase: 「ただ、一生懸命。全身全霊。」which means "Just do your best with all your heart and mind." Launched in April 2019, Ichizen! are Nanami Shinomiya 篠宮奈々美, Shoko Ohsaki 大嵜翔子, Saya Shirahama 白浜さや, Ruka Usami 宇佐美るか, Yui Takayama 高山結衣, Nana Hirano 平野七夕 and Aina Katakami 片上あいな.

Here is the music video for their single 『こいは花火』 Koi Hanabi (Love Fireworks):

If you'd like to know more about them, you can visit their official home page and follow their account on Twitter.

By - Ben K.