(Update 1/20/2012: According to the customer service of Ajinomoto USA, the "Simmering Samurai" line of frozen food currently uses ingredients from China, Japan, the US and other countries, depending on the seasonality and availability.)
since September 2011. There is no critical thinking behind the CNN article below; if there were, the writer would have asked questions like "Where are the ingredients coming from?"
It looks Ajinomoto, of MSG fame, makes "Simmering Samurai" frozen food in its Oregon manufacturing facility, according to the article, but it's not clear from the article. So I went to Ajinomoto's site, and it is still not clear. All they say about ingredients (for pot stickers, not for "Simmering Samurai" line of frozen food) is:
Before accepting any ingredients, they are thoroughly checked for freshness & quality. If they pass Ajinomoto's strict quality standards, they are received.
Looking at the package, "Simmering Samurai" looks more Chinese than Japanese.
(What a stupid naming.)
From CNN (9/12/2011):
Walmart bringing 'real' Japanese food to the United States
Millions rejoice on discovering it's not going to be sushi rolls again
Spend any time in Japan and you’ll soon realize that the local cuisine is the Best In The World (there, we said it). But return home and the old “What next?” question arises all too soon.
Luckily, if you’re in the good ole U.S. of A, Japanese catering giant Ajinomoto is riding to the rescue and pushing its Japanese culinary expertise to the masses through a new deal with Walmart.
Later this month, Tokyo-based Ajinomoto will start selling its existing “Simmering Samurai” range at 2,500 Walmart outlets across the United States, giving it what it hopes will be a fast track to the American stomach.The frozen lineup will include Chicken Fried Rice, Orange Chicken and Beef Broccoli, each selling for about $9, and enough to feed three or four.
Ajinomoto says it’s looking to growing U.S. demand for ethnic foods to help it sell more Japanese lines. Previously, it had concentrated on mostly niche products with typically expensive price tags.
Now, however, the firm is able to team up with a big-box retailer like Walmart as it has a manufacturing base in Oregon that helps keeps costs down.
Bonus fact: Ajinomoto also holds naming rights to the 50,000-seat Ajinomoto Stadium soccer arena in Chofu, Tokyo, which is home to two pro soccer teams.
Update: Yes, we know full well the dishes aren't particularly Japanese -- one would assume Ajinomoto has done trials to see what works well in the United Stated and planned accordingly. Food has a long history of "adapting" to fit the target market, after all.
(H/T anon reader)