When you go into a restaurant in Japan, you don’t have to wonder what the food will look like when you order it. All you have to do is check out the very realistic replicas of every item on the menu in the front window.
Making these fake food items is a huge industry in Japan, one which has been around since 1917, and creating these items has become an art form. Each item is tailor-made for each restaurant; to accomplish this, the restaurant will send the actual food items, along with photos, to the company that manufactures the fake food. The manufacturer will then use silicon molds to create the replicas, and then finish by painting each item to exactly match every detail. The finished product can be quite striking in its realism. An average restaurant can easily spend as much as $10,000 to replicate their entire menu.
This system of see-before-you-eat is meant to entice potential customers into the restaurant, but it’s also very convenient for foreigners who aren’t able to read a Japanese menu. The only problem may be a slight disappointment when your real food doesn’t look quite as good as the fake food in the window.