Cold karaage vending machines take fried chicken to new extremes

Take a trip to heaven and hell with “Deep Fried Chicken of Angel and Devil I wish you every happiness.

Ever since the pandemic drastically changed the nation’s comfort levels with dining out, vending machines filled with food have been popping up all over Japan.

It’s been an eye-opening experience to see just how many types of food have been getting the vending machine treatment. After filling up on cream in cans, coriander delightsand rolled-up omelettes in tinswe thought we’d tried the best of them, but as always we were wrong, because lo and behold there’s a cold karaage machine waiting in the wings for us.

▼ The machine, run by home delivery bento service Torigokorois located inside this “Flavour Street” in Konan Ward, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Not far from the entrance you’ll find this pair of vending machines, which has “Tenshi to Akuma no Karaage” (“Deep Fried Chicken of Angel and Devil”) printed in Japanese on a signboard above. There are also two signs in English: “Heaven” beside the machine on the left, and ”Hell“Beside the machine on the right.

As karaage lovers will know, karaage is Japanese fried chicken, and it’s sinfully good. Curious to find out what makes one type of fried chicken angelic and the other devilish, we took a closer look and discovered that the Angel machine was filled with salt and lemon flavored chicken on the top row, priced at 880 yen (US$6.51) each, and on the bottom row were three varieties: rich cheese, smoked pepper, and spicy garlic (all 900 yen each).

Over in hell, the upper level was filled with Tamari soy sauce flavored chicken (880 yen), while the lower level contained three different varieties: mentai, achovy garlicand pepper (900 yen each).

All these flavors sounded great to us, but seeing as this was our first time exploring the realms of angel and devil karaagewe decided to reign in our worldly desires by choosing just one from each realm.

The Japanese on this label reads: ”Angel’s Wings. Let’s relax. Carefree Nap Rich Cheese Flavor“, with”Deep Fried Chicken of Angel and Devil I wish you every happiness“ in English beneath it.

To balance out the heavenly Rich Cheese, we bought a devilish Anchovy Garlic, which came in a more seductive-looking, sleek silver can that totally concealed its contents. The label on that one read “Devil’s Tail” and ”Aren’t anchovies a bit grown-up? Adult-like Anchovy and Garlic Flavor.

Each one called to us in different ways, but the most curious thing about both of them was they were served in cans and not hot or frozen as one might expect, but sold at fridge-temperaturelike a can of drink.

According to what we’d read, you can eat this karaage straight from the canwhich is something we’d never seen before, but we figured this made sense, seeing as the operators of the machine were in the business of making and delivering bentos, which are known for containing fridge-temperature meats inside them.

▼ We decided to take ours home, though, where we pulled back the top…

▼ …and felt a cold rush of air escape from the angels.

Chilled karaage isn’t something we’d ever thought to try before, but here we were, with our heavenly karaage rising up on angel’s wings towards our taste buds.

We only needed one bite for this little piece of heaven to convince us that chilled karaage is indeed an angelic experience. It was crispy on the outside, thick and juicy on the inside, and it caressed our taste buds up in an intense karaage flavourwith the only heating required being the warmth of our tongue.

▼ Next up, we peered into hell.

It looked dark and menacing in there, so we tipped the contents out into the light, and were surprised to find that the serving size was substantial.

The devil’s karaage was punchy and spicy, delivering superb hits of anchovy and garlic that were devilishly delicious. Eating these gave us a craving for beer, which would actually be the perfect partner for both these cans of fried chicken. All we need now is for the company to install a canned beer vending machine next to their heaven and hell machines, perhaps under the title of “purgatory“, to give our taste buds a proper journey through all the different realms of the afterlife.

Cold karaage is a surprisingly great way to enjoy fried chicken during the sweat-inducing days of summer, so we’ll definitely be popping back for another taste of heaven and hell, and we’ll be sure to stop by the vending machine that makes wishes come true while we’re there!

Vending Machine Information

Tenshi to Akuma no Karaage Torigokoro / 天使と悪魔のからあげ トリゴコロ
Address: Kanagawa-ken, Yokohama-shi, Konan-ku, Maruyamadai 1-13-1, La Porto Kaminagaya 1F
神奈川県横浜市港南区丸山台1 ——- 13-1 ラ・ポルト上永谷 1F
Hours: 24時間(自動販売機)

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[ Read in Japanese ]