It seems that food isn’t the only thing that Uber Eats delivers…love is on the menu too!

With restaurants closed and everyone being encouraged to stay home, a lot of people are cooking for themselves. But after a while, you just get tired of cooking, and you want to eat something different, right? Luckily, for that we have Uber Eats.

Uber Eats is relatively new to Japan, but our Japanese language reporter Ikuna Kamezawa, while conducting her five-day hotel self-isolation experiment, decided to try it out for the first time. After all, she couldn’t eat cup noodles and snacks for five days straight!

Now, it should be noted that APA Hotels (the chain Ikuna was staying at) doesn’t always welcome food deliveries to their guests, but nowadays they’re making an exception. When Ikuna spoke to Murata, an employee at her hotel, he explained that it’s because the hotel has a partnership with Domino’s Pizza, so they’d rather encourage their guests to order from there. “But right now because of the virus we’ve closed our restaurant,” he added, “And we can’t expected our guests to eat Domino’s Pizza every day, so we can’t really help it if they want to order from somewhere else. Whether it’s Uber Eats or something else, you’re very welcome to order whatever you like!”

Murata also said that, though delivery people who aren’t from Domino’s can’t deliver straight to your room, if you tell the Uber Eats deliverer to ask at the front desk when they arrive, the staff at the hotel will call you. But it seemed like it would be a nuisance for the staff, and the Uber Eats app tells you when your food is expected to arrive, so you can just wait in the lobby around the time when it arrives without bothering the front desk.

If you’ve never used Uber Eats before, when you download the app and sign in, it automatically detects your location and shows you what restaurants around you are available for delivery. Ikuna was hungry and made a hasty order, but afterwards she was surprised to learn that the delivery fee was actually pretty low.

Once you place an order, a progress bar pops up, and it says “Your order is being prepared”, and tells you when to expect your delivery. She ordered her food at 7 p.m., and the estimated delivery time was 7:25. “Wow! That’s speedy!” she thought to herself.

A picture of the person who would deliver her food also appeared, and it was then that she realized that he was probably not from Japan. Mr. J–as we’ll call him–seemed to be from the Middle East, so Ikuna began to worry if she’d be able to communicate with him. “What if I don’t understand what he says?” she wondered fretfully.

Suddenly, the estimated delivery time changed to 7:09, and she was notified that her delivery was picked up and on its way. Her food was going to arrive less than 10 minutes after she ordered! In a panic, Ikuna changed out of her pajamas and rushed to take the elevator downstairs.

When she arrived, she instantly recognized Mr. J from his photo, even though he was wearing a mask. When Ikuna called out to him, waving her phone, his face lit up, and he cried, “Oh, my friend!” Then he stuck out his hand as if to shake hers, then quickly pulled it back, as if to say, “Any more than that is too close!” Ikuna found the friendly gesture kind of soothing.

Then Mr. J said in broken Japanese, “Sorry it’s late!” and then waved to the front desk staff with a “Thank you, my friends!”. Then with his hands pressed together in front of his chest, he bowed deeply before leaving, but only after he hailed a fellow deliverer with another “Hi! My friend!’

Though Ikuna had been looking forward to the mixed fried rice she’d ordered from restaurant chain Osaka Ohsho, she couldn’t stop thinking about Mr. J. The food had come nice and hot, like it was fresh off the pan, but when Ikuna thought of how Mr. J had brought it just for her, her chest became as hot as her bowl of fried rice. Though he looked Middle Eastern, he had a name that was very common in Europe and North America, so Ikuna wondered where he was really from. His generous use of “My friend” did strike her as a more Indian style…but what a friendly guy!!

Are all Uber Eats drivers so cheerful and polite? Nah, it was probably just beginner’s luck. Still, she couldn’t get him out of her mind.

“I want to see him again!” she decided.

So she decided to see if she could get Mr. J to deliver her food again. Since he’d brought it so fast, he had to be operating out of the Kabukicho neighborhood of Shinjuku, where Ikuna was staying. So maybe if she ordered again at the same time tomorrow, he’d be the one to deliver her food again! She was going to stay at APA Hotel for five days, so she had four more chances.

She also decided that it would be best to order from the same place again. Not knowing how Uber Eats worked, she thought maybe Mr. J was in charge of delivering from Osaka Ohsho. So at 7 p.m. the next day she immediately ordered her mixed fried rice…

And was notified that somebody was else was coming to deliver her food. “Damn it!”

Well, it was only the second day, so she wasn’t going to worry about it. Besides, for some reason her mixed fried rice was even better today than it was yesterday! The rice was cooked slightly al dente, so each grain had a presence on her tongue as she ate it. She felt like she could eat it forever. That she could order this for delivery…what a time to be alive!

Sadly, the delivery person on the third day also ended up being a different person, but he was a pretty good-looking guy and had nice manners, so she considered it a half-win (the other delivery guy was also pretty hot, for the record). Ikuna had heard that Uber Eats deliverers have been reported for bad manners or service, so she was surprised to meet so many well-mannered guys.

She was also pleased to note that she was not tired of Osaka Ohsho’s fried rice even after eating it for the third day in a row. She even considered getting an extra large portion next time. She thought it would probably even be good cold, and considered refrigerating it before eating it…but her desire to eat it won out and she ate it hot after all.

On the fourth day Ikuna made a terrible mistake. She decided to change it up just a little and combo her fried rice with a meat and vegetable stir fry…but her order ended up taking 45 minutes instead of the usual 20 or less. And, it goes without saying that one who delivered it was not Mr. J either.

Day Four did teach Ikuna that fried rice can be cooked ridiculously quickly. How could it be this quick, delicious and cheap? Each grain of rice was always perfectly shaped, never smushed or crushed, and no spoonful was ever too greasy or too salty. It was the perfect balance in every way, every time, with a light flavor that she just could not get enough of.

She could not help but admire the hidden potential in fried rice, and especially in Osaka Osho’s.

Mr. J did not appear on the fifth day either, but Ikuna couldn’t help noticing that all of the five Uber Eats deliverymen had been handsome young men. She wondered if all the hosts of Kabukicho, who are out of work until their clubs can open up again, are making money in the meantime by delivery food.

Unfortunately, Ikuna was not able to be reunited with her crush, nor did she find true love among any of her other Uber Eats deliverers, but where she did find love was in Osaka Osho’s mixed fried rice. Perhaps Mr. J, though not her soulmate, was destined to be the one to unite her with her new favorite fast food. Who knows? Fate works in mysterious ways.

After emerging from her five days in isolation, two things surprised Ikuna. The first was the distance of the hotel from Osaka Osho. It was about as far away as the nose is from the eyes; probably less than 100 meters from the hotel entrance. Ikuna actually felt kind of embarrassed that she’d had someone deliver a single bowl of fried rice from there three days in a row. She decided that, in the future, she would look at where the restaurant she wants to order from is before actually ordering.

The second thing that surprised her was the sheer amount of Uber Eats delivery people around. There might have even even been more delivery people than actual pedestrians in Kabukicho; all she could see around her were Uber Eats delivery bags. That made her realize how futile her goal of meeting Mr. J again really was.

But after some Googling she did learn that you can get the same delivery person twice in a row, so perhaps if she keeps ordering from Uber Eats, she’ll one day encounter her Uber Eats crush again, so perhaps fate will smile upon her one more time.

Photos © SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]