The number one gyūdon (beef and rice in a bowl) restaurant, Yoshinoya, has been working its way into Thai markets. Already having infiltrated America and China amongst other countries, it appears there is no stopping Japan’s favorite beef and rice restaurant from world domination.
However, the further a restaurant strays from its homeland, the harder it is to keep the original atmosphere of that restaurant, as a team of reporters from our editorial department learned during a recent trip to Thailand. At first they were simply curious whether the taste was the same as Japan or not, but what they discovered was far more troubling. One member of the party, who was new to Thailand, exclaimed upon seeing the menu: “Huh? A cup of tea costs 30 baht (US$1)? What’s this about?! It’s free in Japan!”
Their confusion is understandable. One of the trademarks of Yoshinoya restaurants in Japan is that whenever you walk in you are greeted with a complimentary cup of tea, hot or cold depending on the weather. Naturally, refills are free too. In Thailand, however, this small pleasure comes at a price: 30 baht (US$1) a cup.
“Paying for tea at Yoshinoya just isn’t right,” the unsettled reporter continued, unbeknownst to him that in Thailand drinks like tea and water are usually not free. Even other gyūdon restaurants in Thailand like Sukiya charge 10 baht (US$0.30) for green tea and 20 baht (US$0.70) for a bottle of water. It’s a far cry from the service available in Japan.
For Japanese people, expecting Yoshinoya to serve you a cup of free tea is like expecting the sun to rise in the morning: it should happen no matter where you are.
All in all the food prices and taste are more or less the same as Japan. And really, since there is a plethora of dishes exclusive to Thailand, why would you waste your time and money eating something that’s everywhere in your home country? Perhaps it’s best to leave Thai Yoshinoya restaurants to the Thai people.
[ Read in Japanese ]