This summer, Hooters is opening a pair of beer gardens in Osaka and Tokyo for a limited time. Although there have been a pair of Hooters restaurants in Tokyo, this is the first time the American franchise has made it down to Osaka.
Always eager to bring you the best news from Japan sprinkled with a variety of cultural insights, we headed down to the grand opening to give you two reviews: one from a guy who used to live up the street from a Hooters in his home country of Canada, and the other from a Osaka native who had never even heard of the place. Together we can see if Hooters Osaka maintains the lively atmosphere of the chain in America but also caters to Japanese sensibilities. You know… because we’re really into marketing science and stuff.
I was really excited when I first heard Hooters was coming. There’s kind of a stereotype about Japan and I’m afraid to say it’s true: usually when I see them, they’re flat and unimpressive, but at Hooters I can finally get my hands on a nice, warm, plump cheeseburger.
For so long I’ve had to put up with flimsy fast food burgers and the tragically deceptive “hamburg” which is basically just a Salisbury steak. Both of those are good every now and then but don’t match up to a thick and fresh hamburger like I used to have back home.
In Japan, overseas stores often arrive with events declaring themselves to be “a popular store in America” and “New York famous”. KFC, McDonald’s, Starbucks and more recently Krispy Kreme have found a strong foothold in the Japanese market. TGI Friday’s is still a steadily burgeoning chain of 12 restaurants here. Others are not so lucky. Wendy’s had to withdraw from the country once. Japanese people certainly love overseas shops but being from overseas alone is not a guarantee of success.
The sign had an American feel, and was kind of like a slightly sexier Hard Rock Café. It fit into what I thought about an American restaurant. I felt that the sound coming from it was very loud and wanted to be heard. The whole place seemed very sure of itself and what it wanted to be. I got the feeling that these are the things Americans are drawn to.
We arrived at Hooters just before it opened. There was already a long line to get in. On our left was the beer garden sitting on the Dojima river where we could see the Hooters Girls warming up with a group cheer. Afterwards, one by one the parties were led down to the dock by a Hooters Girl as they chatted the customers up in true Hooters fashion.
Taking a quick glance at the menu my heart sank a little. There were no hamburgers to be had. Still, the menu offered quite a bit for a beer garden. Naturally they had the some roasted chicken breast for English-speaking customers to make bad jokes about. There was also a decent range of finger foods like fried pickles, nachos and curly fries. We opted for some Cheese Nachos, Chili & Cheese Curly Fries and Chicken Wings with Daytona Sauce.
The wings were by far the best dish of the three. While chicken wings can be found all over Osaka, they tend to be more moist than American wings. However, these had that slightly crispy outer texture that I haven’t experienced in quite a while.
The fries and nachos held true to the originals. The portions were hearty and the toppings were generous. Although my dream of a good ol’ American burger would have to wait, the portions were more than satisfying for beer garden fare.
The food was more delicious than I expected, and the chicken wings were especially good. We chose the Daytona sauce, and it was a good mix of sweet and spicy. I was a little disappointed in that I was expecting beers like Budweiser, but mostly it was mostly Asahi Super Dry all around. I was really hoping to try some American beer, though.
Overall this Hooters experience mimicked the American one pretty closely. The Hooters Girls were all out mingling and doing their periodic dance routines to liven things up. The location was awesome, sitting on the river and watching the various boats motor by as the cool breeze came in. With its location among the various office complexes in the area and across the street from the Osaka International Convention Center, it’s the perfect place for business people to come and unwind after work–which they did!
The Nakanoshima area has a refined, academic feeling with its collection of museums and libraries. Hooters definitely seems to be a mismatch, but in a strangely good way. It’s kind of a refreshing spot in an otherwise stiff area.
Hooters Girls are required to dance on a regular basis, but they look like they seem to genuinely enjoy letting loose. It reminded me of the professional wrestling in a way. It was like a WWE venue with the crowd going nuts. It’s a wild atmosphere that’s easy to get into.
I think that if you’re not willing to let loose you might not really enjoy this type of scene. Hooters isn’t trying to be a show with professional dancers–they have theaters for that. This isn’t all about ogling women either. We have plenty of places in Japan for that, too…
While beautiful women and dancing are everywhere at Hooters, the real fun isn’t in watching. It’s in becoming a part of everything that’s going on. I think that’s the kind of experience that Americans enjoy. You should definitely come and check this out.
Hooters Osaka: Website
All photos: RocketNews24
▼ An older Japanese gentleman sitting with us thought the curly fries were squid rings.
▼ And of course it just wouldn’t be Hooters without the dancing all through the night
▼ Don’t let the entertainment distract you from the cool and crazy stuff going on behind you in the Dojima River!