This past weekend I was had the pleasure of attending the Matsuri Festival held at UIUC’s Japan House. At the event, there were a wide variety of activities, demonstrations and, of course, Japanese-inspired food. Among the vendors were Pandamonium Donuts, Rok’s Korean Tacos, Sakanaya and more. While there, I sampled as many tasty treats as possible. Check out my top picks below!

Sakanaya Samples:

Sakanaya featured a delicious array of savory samples as always. I was fortunate enough to join the line just as a new tray of steaming hot sushi was delivered. The rolls were deep fried and filled with cream cheese and avocado. Alongside the sushi were hot wings covered in black sesame seeds that did not shy away from a substantial amount of spice.

Miga and Panadamonium Sweets (It’s a tie!):

While Sakanaya arguably supplied festival goers with the best savory eats, its sister company Miga supplied attendees with some top-notch sweet treats. Though not particularly Japanese inspired, Miga’s Salted Caramel chocolate cupcakes and miniature cream pies were hard to resist. As an added bonus, Miga also served some wonderful cocktails including pleasingly sweet lychee blini. Pandamonium, however, did include Asian influenced items such as Matcha doughnuts and Saigon Cinnamon Sugar doughnuts.

Rok’s Rice Balls:

Surprisingly, I enjoyed Rok’s deep fried rice balls more than their tacos. The rice balls came out of the fryer hot, breaded and perfectly sticky on the inside. In addition, the rice balls came drizzled with a tangy mayonnaise dressing that nicely offset the otherwise very rich consistency.

Kona Shaved Ice:

As fairly new addition to Champaign-Urbana’s collection of food trucks, Kona Ice really hit the spot considering the day’s steamy weather. The truck has a nice concept. Basically, customers can mix and match their own flavors using taps of syrup on the side of the truck. While there, I sampled two recommendations by the cashier. The first was a bright orange and red combo with mango and “tiger’s blood” flavors, and the second was a cool blue and green duo that included cactus and cotton candy notes. Kona Ice provided a tasty way to cool down after an enjoyable and sunny afternoon outside.

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