Noodle joint takes a page from the idol singer industry.

Jogenki Itadaki is a little different from your normal ramen restaurant. For starters, while the most common types of ramen broth in Japan are soy, miso, or pork stock, Jogenki Itadaki’s house specialty is a flavorful chicken broth, made with regional Abedori chicken from Iwate Prefecture. Then there’s the restaurant’s unusual practice of using a slice of French bread as one of the toppings for its Japanese noodles.

But what really sets Jogenki Itadaki apart is its unprecedented side dish offering: handshakes.

▼ 握手券/akushuken = “handshake ticket”

Yes, if you’re willing to shell out an additional 10 yen (US$0.09) beyond your 850-yen bowl of ramen, Jogenki Itadaki’s owner chef will personally shake your hand.

This hasn’t always been part of the menu, though. Jogenki Itadaki opened in the city of Sayama, Saitama Prefecture, in 2017, and the first priorities were making tasty food, providing polite service, and keeping the restaurant clean. But those are all things that every restaurant should do, and the owner began to think of what else he could do to help his ramen joint stand out, and decided to offer some fun and entertainment too.

So he took a page from the idol singer playbook, in which the perky vocalists meet and greet their fans with handshake events. Jogenki Itadaki began offering its handshake service in 2017, and at first they weren’t sure if anyone would really be willing to pay 10 yen for it. “Even if they didn’t buy a handshake ticket, though, seeing it on the menu would make people laugh, and put them in a good mood,” theorized the owner.

▼ Jogenki Itadaki’s promotional video is yet another example of outside-the-box marketing.

Originally, the owner was prepared to take the handshake ticket off the menu if customers weren’t getting a chuckle out of it, but two years later, somewhere between 5 and 10 customers a month buy them, so it looks like customers being able to cap off their lunch or dinner by pressing palms with the man who made it is now a permanent part of the Jogenki Itadaki dining experience.

Restaurant information
Jogenki Itadaki / 上気元いただき
Address: Saitama-ken, Sayama-shi, Shimookudomi 610
Open 11 a.m.-11 p.m. (Sunday-Tuesday, Friday-Saturday), 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (Wednesday)
Closed Thursdays

Sources: IT Media, Togetter
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