Screenshot: Giuseppe’s Gaming (YouTube)
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Absurdly popular RPG franchise Final Fantasy will unveil its long-awaited expansion Shadowbringers this summer. Regrettably, I have not followed the Final Fantasy series much these last 25 years, dropping off right around Final Fantasy III for the SNES which came out when I was 13. So I am indeed a lapsed fan, and a new campaign from the Final Fantasy team is strongly enticing me to jump back on.

The two selling points: First, Lawson. Lawson is a beloved convenience store chain throughout Japan, a sort of elevated 7-Eleven (added: at least American 7-Eleven’s), with exceptionally craveable late-night foods. (The Lawson backstory is worth a whole other post, but briefly: it was born near Akron, Ohio 80 years ago and now has more than 11,000 shops in Japan—and only two in the U.S.) Anthony Bourdain was a fan, and urged visitors to grab a meal from Lawson at least once while in Japan:

The second selling point: chicken karaage. I’m a bit of a fried chicken fiend, and I’m of the controversial belief that the Japanese method of frying chicken is superior to all others. Marinated boneless skin-on chicken thigh nuggets, deep fried in a lacy potato starch dredge—it’s really worth seeking out.

What does this have to do with Final Fantasy? Gaming site Twinfinite tells us that a Final Fantasy-themed fried chicken is available for a limited time at Lawson. My eyebrows raised and nose twitched upon hearing this news. The five-piece chicken karaage costs less than $2 USD, and is flavored with mayu, a sweet and intensely savory black garlic oil, commonly used to flavor ramen. One in 700 nuggets are even emblazoned with the franchise’s meteor logo, and according to the video below, when you buy this at Lawson you’re greeted with the victory fanfare from the game. Watch here:

This is all delightfully over-the-top, the chicken looks delicious, Lawson rules, and now I’m tempted to start digging a Final Fantasy rabbit hole.

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