One of the great joys of RocketNews24 editors and writers is getting to see how fast food chains operate in different countries. The sometimes slight and sometime huge changes to the menu can really give us more insight into the local cultures than you might expect. However, for the most part these multinational restaurants originate from the USA, so it’s really a special treat to see how the huge gyudon (beef bowl) chain Yoshinoya looks when localized for American customers’ tastes.

Recently a commercial for the salaryman’s favorite restaurant was posted on YouTube and drew some curious opinions from those back in its home country. The response was largely positive, especially regarding the American take on Yoshinoya food, but some wished the US would stop with the whole Japan = ninjas thing already.

The commercial depicts a man dressed as a ninja popping up in various locations and handing someone a Yoshinoya beef bowl, although it appears to be less of a bowl and more of a beef platter.

They’re cute and silly little vignettes closed off by a scene that completely perplexed me where the ninja appears to send an order of gyudon floating upwards. I thought he was underwater at first but then realized he was getting it beamed up to a UFO after about the fourth watch.

Anyway, Japanese viewers seemed to take the light-hearted fun for what it’s worth and had their own little quips to offer.

“Again with the ninjas! lol”
“I can see that ninja underwent some rigorous training.”
“I wish Japanese Yoshinoya was like that.”
“American Yoshinoya strangely looks way more delicious.”

The presence of a ninja in the commercial prompted a few gentle groans from viewers. It’d be like getting a cowboy to push Burger King or a knight handing out Wimpy burgers in a Japanese commercial. They are fine as representations for each country’s heritage and ultimately harmless, but they’re kind of played out at this point in time and feel a little hokey–which is how Japan feels about ninjas in a nutshell, incidentally.

What viewers were more impressed with, however, is how the food looked in the commercial. Different kinds of meat, thickly layered on a bed of rice with a hearty portion of brightly colored steamed vegetables on the side, all drizzled with teriyaki sauce. It’s a far cry from the bowl of rice with some sauce-soaked strips of beef and onions thrown on top.

For comparison’s sake, here is a Japanese Yoshinoya commercial. The way the food is presented is like night and day.

For Japan that’s always been fine though. Walk into any Yoshinoya outlet and take a gander at the clientele. You’ll probably see an assortment of men, from otaku to salarymen, who are more interested in a fast and delicious pile of calories than an exquisite meal. However, watching how green the grass is on the other side, it’s hard not to want a sprig of broccoli or a few carrot slices to spruce up your meat and rice.

Another interesting cultural difference in the presentation of Yoshinoya’s food is Japan’s rounded bowl versus the US’s shallow tray. In Japan the idea of a small bowl is very appealing as it allows the diner to pick it up with their left hand and start shoveling the food down your gullet with chopsticks with their right, as demonstrated in this Japanese commercial.

Such a move that would probably get you smacked upside the head by your mother in Western countries, however, which probably explains the unusual presentation. Also, the thinner plate of the US that appears to be positively overflowing with beefy goodness–ideal for whetting the palates of big meat-eaters in America.

In the end, Japan’s Yoshinoya is pretty tasty as is so it’s hard to complain, but boy, those American dishes would be a nice choice on the menu too. While we’re at it, I think making the server dress up like a ninja and pop up from behind the counter could be a fun touch as well.

Source: YouTube – Travis Lee Stephenson via AOL News
Japanese Yoshinoya Commercial: YouTube – Masayuki Minamoto