Sometimes companies can be too transparent

One year ago, Japan's government decided to stop importing America's CJD-ridden cows. As a result, Yoshinoya had no choice but to stop selling their trademark -- which is to say, only -- dish, beef bowl, and replace it with an ever-rotating menu (that, as the months passed, came to be increasingly reliant on pork).

They have not yet found a reliable and cheap source of non-poisonous beef. But today, for one day only, they sold beef bowl again anyway.

11 a.m. was the official start time. Since today is a public holiday (Japan's national foundation day, 建国記念の日), I was off work, so I decided to drop by then. When I did, I found a line spilling out of the store and extending for twenty meters or so down the road. Not being insane, I decided to come back later, and did so at about three o'clock.

The line had vanished but the place was still pretty busy. I took a seat between a young family and a bunch of high school boys in tracksuits, and ordered my beef.

The tracksuited boys were already snarfing their carbs down, but the family must have arrived just a few minutes earlier because they were still waiting. The father was explaining the situation to his daughter, who was too young to quite get it. "But mummy buys beef all the time at the supermarket." Yes, but not Yoshinoya beef! "What's Yoshinoya?" It's... it's where we are right now.

Finally my food arrived. It was... OK. Like I said last year,

the busier Yoshinoya gets the worse their food tastes. The best Yoshinoya meat is the stuff that's been soaking in the spooky artificial sauce/flavour matrix since 3 a.m., just waiting for you to stagger in at 5:00, take a seat across from the off-duty hookers, and order a bowl. So today's Yoshinoya was a little bland, comparatively.

I have to admit I was moved nearly to tears by the brochure they gave me along with the food, though:

We will never forget the eleventh of February, 2004.
The day we let the fire beneath our beef pots go out. The sadness we felt when we became unable to serve beef bowl to those customers who so kindly patronised our stores.
It has been one year since then. There are heroes on both sides. Evil is everywhere.

OK, those last two sentences may not have been in the original.
They also included a slightly disturbing section headed "Why only one day?"

Ever since we stopped selling beef bowl in February last year, we've been ceaselessly investigating possible new beef sources.
Generally speaking, in cold storage, beef keeps for up to twenty-four months...

Oh, I don't like where this is going at all... They source this fact to the International Institute of Refrigeration, by the way.

And so we began gathering American beef from places all over Japan that had some in storage.
Building our stockpile little by little like this, after one year we finally had enough to make about one day's worth of beef bowl.

Yeah, I kind of wish I hadn't read that after all.

Popularity factor: 5


Is it impossible for Japan to use Australian beef? Back when there was the mad cow scare from US beef, all the fast food chains here in Korea threw posters advertising the safe Australian beef up on their doors. "Don't worry about mad cow disease, our beef is from Australia. The saturated fat on the other hand..." Then again, for all I know the beef could have still been from America.


Those last two sentences you refer to ...

I sat, wondering, just how likely they would have appeared. This is Japan afterall.

And truth and fiction melded together. See also, Dutch.


Man... that sounds like both a glorious and heart-wrenching day to be alive in Japan. I envy you for stumbling across that kind of emotional trigger.

It's a flourish of color in a world of grey, really.


Other places in Japan use Australian beef (like McDonalds, I think).. I don't know why Yoshinoya doesn't. Maybe Australian beef would make it impossible to keep their prices low, or maybe the taste would change... or maybe they're just sick of being the beef place and wanted to force their customers to get used to a bigger menu? Who knows.

Roy -- clearly, ONE of us hasn't read the leaked scrolling intro for the next Star Wars movie ;)

Patrick -- my heart was indeed wrenched. Also, my colon.


You mean you'll eat that beef, but not a questionable kitkat flavor? I'm so disappointed.

Though I think the cryogenic beef might've been enough of a punishment.

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