Posts Tagged ‘tabehodai’

Ready, set, EAT all you can in 15 minutes

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

How much food and booze gobble up and guzzle down in 15 minutes? This is the challenge presented to patrons at Viking Izakaya Odaidoko Sakeba, where they can eat and drink as much as they like for ¥375. Opened in Yokohama last month, the place is already fully booked at weekends with customers eager to wolf down as much food and drink as they can within the allotted time.

Eat and drink all you can, as fast as you can

Eat and drink all you can, as fast as you can

Viking is not a tall blond Norse marauder but a self-service buffet and this one offers items such as oden, nabe (hot pots) and salads, as well as beer, shochu and cocktails. Customers are not limited to sticking to the 15-minute rule, but simply pay for an extra 15 minutes once the time is up. The concept may well catch on.

This year has seen a cut-throat price war among izakaya looking to break even under poor economic conditions and all kinds of tricks are being implemented to attract customers. Earlier this year we wrote about the trend of izakaya offering free shochu to customers and one price establishments selling dishes and drinks for prices as low as ¥270.

The concept of tabe/nomihodai (all you can eat and drink) deals is not new, but the shorter time period is. Typically izakaya offer these deals for periods of 90 minutes to two hours, after which time the (typically wasted) group is kicked out. We suspect that allowing customers to stay for as long or short a time as they like could cause problems for staff.

Continue reading about tabehodai campaigns →

Drinks on the house . . . all around

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Recession hit restaurants and bars all over Japan are actually giving away free drinks and food, in a desperate effort to attract new customers. In the new penny-pinching climate, normal discounts just don’t cut it with many and customers are now looking out for free offers, half-price discounts or bars that charge only ¥300 per drink or dish.

Watami are offering 50% cash back this month

Izakaya chain Watami are offering 50% cash back this month

The free drink offer is becoming increasingly popular in izakaya’s (Japanese pubs) where a free glass of shochu can get evening rolling. Shochu is a clear liquor made from rice, sweet potato or barley; cheap for the establishment to supply, it’s fairly potent (around 25% alcohol) and is a good way to get customers to loosen their purse strings. However, there are places that offer other drinks. Wall Bar Dining are giving away free glasses of beer and Izakaya Kakumei in Ginza, which opened June 4, offers not only free shochu but sake and umeshu (plum wine) as well.

Unlimited free snacks are also a good way to attract new business. Standing bar Q in Ebisu is offering free tabehodai (eat all you can) homemade smoked bacon. As soon as you enter the store you’re given a large platter of the stuff and invited to pig out – pun intended. Steak Burger and Salad Bar Ken, which opened in May this year, offer limitless servings of curry for customers who order steak.

Half-price menus have also been popping up, with popular izakaya Watami offering 50% cash back for a limited period. We also recommend Il Chianti in Kichijoji, who give an amazing 50% discount on pizza and beer every Monday night.

Back in October last year we reported on the rise of the ¥300 standing bar, since then prices have been slashed even further. Kechi yasui izakaya, loosely translated as “pubs for misers,” which price any dish or drink at only ¥300, have been popping up all over the place. Nikkei Trendy reports that in April, izakaya chain Watami went one better by starting up a chain of ¥250 izakaya – amazingly this price includes sales tax.

Last month I went to a slightly more upmarket, ahem, ¥270 izakaya in Shibuya. Though the clientele were mostly in their 20s, my Japanese friend and I noticed that nobody had brought a date. She commented that anyone who tried to bring a girl here would definitely be dumped for being stingy. While the dishes were a bit on the slim side, the beer servings were a decent size and the atmosphere was cheap but definitely cheerful. We say, bring on the bargains!

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