The media is covering a new fast food outlet called The Taiyaki, which opened Nov. 3 on Center-gai in Shibuya. If you are at all familiar with popular Japanese foods you’ll know that taiyaki are plain yellow pancake-like concoctions filled with red azuki bean paste and shaped like tai (red snappers). The Taiyaki sells variations on the theme with fillings that some morning news show commentators find almost blasphemous. In addition to azuki (¥150), there’s chocolate & custard (¥180), apple cinammon (¥180), Italian tomato & cheese (¥220) and German potato (¥220). Normal street-stall taiyaki tend to go for ¥110-140.
So far the store, which occupies only 10 sq. meters, is a hit, with a constant line of customers trailing down the street. The Taiyaki is owned by Hotland, a company based in Gunma Prefecture that made its name with Gindaco, a chain that sells another fish-identified fast food, takoyaki (octopus balls). In addition to the Center-gai outlet, Hotland has two other The Taiyaki stores, one in Sendai and one in Sano.
Hotland says that the Center-gai store attracts 1,000 customers a day, thus lending credence to reports that we are now in the midst of a “taiyaki boom.” Supposedly, taiyaki sales increase dramatically during economic downturns, and we are certainly in one of those now.