LA CARMINA REEL: CNN INTERVIEW SEGMENT WITH TOKYO GOTH DESIGNER KENZO-A, ANDREW ZIMMERN QUOTES, BIZARRE FOODS TOKYO ON TRAVEL CHANNEL DISCOVERY. la carmina tv hosting, harajuku fashion videos, mspmag, Minneapolis st paul magazine, andrew zimmern travel channel blog

I’ve been a busy bee! “The wheels are in motion,” as Seinfeld would say. Why don’t we catch up on press and talk about the controversy over novelty “circle contact lenses”? Let’s do it!

I can’t say enough nice words about Andrew Zimmern, host of the Bizarre Foods TV show on Travel Channel / Discovery. You may recall that I was his guide to weird theme restaurants in the Tokyo episode. I was amazed to see that in his Chow and Again blog for Mpls St. Paul Magazine, Andrew Zimmern gives me a shout-out: “My friend Carmina (her friends get to drop the La when addressing her royal hipsterness) pimps us out on her blog and if you don’t subscribe to this woman’s Facebook, blog, and Twitter feeds you are really missing out, kids.”

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And then he takes the niceness even further in his Travel Channel blog! Andrew discusses the Tokyo episode and says it’s too bad the show changed its focus from strange subcultures — “exotic alternative lifestyles like La Carmina and her posse” — back to bizarre foods. As a result, the episode had to be re-tooled a lot of our footage was cut.

Andrew Zimmern laments: “I wish you could have seen the original program in all its glory. For example, the theme restaurant act was not originally about the restaurants, it was about the people that I dined with. Cross dressing, fetish party going, club crazy, hipster chic and phenomenally great company, La Carmina and her friends adore Tokyo because it’s the world’s trend setting capital, a city where you can be whatever you want.

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Speaking of eccentric fashion and theme restaurants… I did an interview with Hong Kong food website Asian Palate. I talk about how I became a foodie, and the oddest Tokyo theme restaurants such as “bonsai-shaped cake delivered by ninjas.” You can read the full interview here and after the jump. (And there’s more about my Theme Restaurants book on this page.)

I uploaded a recent TV segment on YouTube: “La Carmina interviews Rituals Gothic designer Kenzo-A about the evolution of Harajuku fashion for CNN. They shop along Takeshita Doori and visit Takuya Angel’s store to try on clothes. This segment appeared on the Tokyo episode of CNNGo TV and aired on CNN International.”

If you like the episode and want to see more, please subscribe to my YouTube channel — many more on the way. You can see photos and the entire CNN TV show in this post.

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Now for some controversy… or not. Are novelty “circle” contact lenses from Japan — which give the appearance of big cute eyes — dangerous to consumers? The FDA has not approved them because of concerns that the lenses could harm the eyes.

Some of you on Twitter said it’s nothing but media hype. Others shared stories of eye damage from colored lenses. And the rest of you suggest common caution: as with normal contacts, don’t wear them for long and care for them properly.

What’s your opinion on “circle” wide eyed contact lenses like Geo? Have you tried them? I personally have never worn novelty lenses because my eyesight is horrid and I must be very careful with my eyes…

Japanese Word of the Day: Kanzen = Perfection
Song of the Day: GO!GO!7188 – Kinkyori Renai (The band that performs the song in our CNN segment.)

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Asian Palate interview: An Inside Look at Japan’s Wackiest Food Trends

La Carmina is not one to shy away from the camera. An international travel host, blogger, and author who published her first book at the age of 19, La Carmina knows everything there is to know about Japan and it’s quirky culture. The self-made star recently published her third book centered on Asia’s growing obsession with themed restaurants. The Asian Palate team stopped by for a chat with the author of Crazy Wacky Theme Restaurants: Tokyo.

AP: So tell us La Carmina, how did you become a foodie?
LC: My parents are from Hong Kong, so I was born a foodie! When I was a child, I often travelled around Asia with my family, where I fell in love with spicy Szechuan noodles, sashimi, bibimbap… I also had the good fortune to grow up in Vancouver, Canada, a hub for diverse and delicious food. My eating horizons expanded when I moved to NYC to attend Columbia University. When I was 19, I inked my first food book deal.

AP: What happened next?
LC: I enrolled in Yale Law School but realised my heart wasn’t there. I began blogging about my passions — Jpop culture and food – and that led to two more books: Cute Yummy Time for Perigee/Penguin USA and Crazy Wacky Themed Restaurants for Mark Batty/Random House. Next, I got into food-related TV work: cooking cute bentos on The Today Show and taking Andrew Zimmern to a jail-themed restaurant for Travel Channel. The more I travel, the more I realize there’s so much I have yet to taste — and I’m raring to dip my fingers in the bowl.

AP: Tell us more about this themed restaurant craze.
LC: Imagine sitting in a jail cell and being attacked by screaming monsters. Or eating a bonsai-shaped cake delivered by ninjas. How about having a French maid fall to her knees and call you Master as she spoon-feeds you curry? These are only some of the wild and weird theme restaurants found in Asia, especially Japan. They’re full-fledged fantasy experiences that allow diners to pretend they’re in Wonderland, or Dracula’s castle, or the land of the fairies.

AP: Sounds bizarre…people like this why?
LC: It’s an exciting way to escape mundane life and have a memorable evening with your friends.The very first theme restaurant opened in Tokyo about ten years ago; it was a haunted jail experience. Maid cafes also appeared around this time to cater to Akihabara’s anime and manga-obsessed “otaku”. The trend took off fast: there are now dozens of theme eateries in Japan, as well as in Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan and other parts of Asia.

AP: Do you think style takes place over substance in these restaurants?
LC: Initially, the focus was on the entertainment and not the food. However, as more theme restaurants appeared and the competition stiffened, the quality of the meals has improved immensely.

AP: You are recognised for your eccentric Harajuku fashion…how does this interact with food and what are the results?
LC: I’m a “creature of the night” – and I love putting up silly videos on my Youtube channel. So I thought, why not create a cooking show with dark twist? That’s how my popular web series, Death Cookbook, began. In every episode, the Cooking God (played by a giant yellow inflatable bear) helps me make an all-black recipe (such as black sesame ice cream) and defeat my enemies in stovetop battles. Come check it out; I’m sure you’ll have a good laugh!

To find out more about La Carmina, visit