Before entering Samplekobo’s food replica factory, you will see many signs reminding visitors not to eat the food on display that looks amazingly real (tip: make sure to visit Samplekobo on a full stomach).
The factory was one of our stops for Delta Airlines’ familiarization tour of Central Japan. Located in Gujo City in the Gifu Prefecture, the shop supplies over half of Japan’s food replica displays for restaurants. Samplekobo, which makes its home in a traditional 150-year-old Edo style house, is one of Gujo Tourism Federation’s must-visit places for tourists.
The place is small but always packed with people marveling at the awesome detail of the fake food being made. At the factory entrance is also its souvenir shop. Farther down is the activity station, where you can be a food replica artist for a day—you can choose between making tempura, fruit tarts with cream which come with a strap for your phone or soft-serve ice cream on a cone (one of Japan’s ubiquitous treats).
At the back of the factory lies the heart of Samplekobo—the production room where they regularly roll out giant crabs that cost P25,000 easy, mugs of frothy beer that look freshly poured, complete with moisture beads on the glass, and bowls of yummy ramen.
Good enough to eat
Here you will see artisans turning silicon into food that looks good enough to eat, and airbrushing molded food to make it look as real as possible.
Because the tempura making station was packed (it’s always one of the first stations to fill up with tourists), I ended up in the fruit tart-making station. We were supplied with empty pie crusts, a bag filled with silicon cream and ready-made strawberries, kiwi and blueberries.
Assembling the fruit tart was easy: Using the pipe, you fill the crust with cream and gently arrange the fruit on top of the cream surface. Add cream swirl accents and let dry—the kit includes a dome for you to store your handiwork until it dries, keeping it stable and steady for a couple of days and letting the silicon set.
I had so much fun that I was seriously tempted to ask our tour group to leave me behind. I think I would’ve loved to become a fake food factory worker. I just have to make sure to separate my actual lunch from the food I will make, lest I end up with a mouthful of fake sushi.
Interested in making fake food? Visit www.samplekobo.com for schedules and directions.