Yoshinoya – It’s often described by worshipful Japanese pundits as “The Japanese McDonalds”. Well, its not really the Japanese McDonalds. That would instead be the actual McDonalds, which is the same as McDonalds Australia except with radioactive caesium.
Yoshinoya is in the business of selling Gyudon – a bowl of rice topped with fried beef. At any time of the day or night you can pop in here and within 60 seconds be sitting in front of a pile of steaming……….. Gyudon. In part of an ongoing price war with a couple of its rivals, Yoshinoya has cut the price of a basic bowl of Gyudon to 280 yen (just over $3). I was about half way through my bowl before I started to consider whether or not it is actually possible to produce a bowl of Gyudon for $3. I concluded that there must be some parts of a cow (probably somewhere deep in the middle) that are available in some countries (probably China) at a low enough wholesale price for Yoshinoya to make a profit on a $3 rice bowl.
The most striking thing about my local Yoshinoya, however, is how indeterminably sad it is. All of the staff are ladies in their 60s, still working for $10 an hour at this classic fast food joint. The customers are almost all middle-aged men who come alone, stuck working long hours in jobs they hate. They gruffly place their orders without any common courtesy whatsoever. The 60-year-old female workers subserviently run to the kitchen to fulfil them. The decor is dated and tired; the food uninspiring.
Is this the saddest eatery in Japan?