You, too, can have an all-you-can-eat experience with a timer and the determination to enjoy yourself.

Here’s the deal: Tsukiji Gindako, a chain of takoyaki restaurants, ran a limited-time event until November 27 of this year, at a tiny number of participating restaurants. The event? All-you-can-eat takoyaki for 45 minutes for a fee of 980 yen (US$9.39) plus tax. Considering a standard plate of eight succulent, deep-fried octopus balls costs 538 yen at Gindako, this is a dream for any economizing epicure.

Our reporter Yuichiro Wasai only noticed this incredible opportunity a couple of days before the deadline. The campaign wasn’t well advertised, and the participating stores were few and far-between; primarily at Gindako restaurants set up in Aeon Mall food courts. Thankfully, he had one such Aeon mall located an hour’s train ride away. A small price to pay for cheap, bountiful takoyaki!

He ventured into the mall and made his way to the food court. We imagine he was practically drooling by this point, envisioning the riches of soft, chewy, flavorful octopus orbs that lay ahead.

▼ An advertisement for the campaign.

Then, as Yuichiro grew closer to the Tsukiji Gindako, trepidation began to set in. Then doubt. He noticed that the signs extolling the virtues of this bountiful buffet were each labeled with an ominous sticker. Then it dawned on him.

You needed a reservation to take part in this all-you-can-eat event. Plus, you needed to make that reservation in person, and what’s more, those stickers held an extra bone-chilling bit of bad news:

“Thanks! [The all-you-can-eat buffet is] booked full!”


Yuichiro stared at the sign listlessly. His stomach growled. He had promised it a feast of takoyaki, and now it was hellbent on eating takoyaki. And he’d gotten himself all psyched up for the experience of eating as much octopus balls as his body could take. His body hungered, yes, but his soul yearned.

It was then that Yuichiro realized something.

What if he ordered takoyaki like a regular customer, and then set a timer for the all-you-can-eat period of 45 minutes? Then it would be just like he was a buffet diner, eating his fill on a time limit, but without that slight stressor of eating as much as possible to maximize value for money.

It was worth a try, surely?

Yuichiro set a 45-minute timer on his phone, then strolled up to the service window with obvious intent. He glanced at the all-you-can-eat menu and cleared his throat. “I’ll have a standard takoyaki,” he announced, with all the confidence of someone participating in the buffet event.

▼ The all-you-can-eat menu is, of course, available to regular diners too.

The set takoyaki for the buffet is as follows: regular takoyaki, takoyaki dusted with green onion, teritama (teriyaki and mayonnaise) takoyaki, cheese mentaiko takoyaki, chewy cheese mentai takoyaki, and teritama cheese consomme takoyaki. Instead of the typical eight takoyaki balls, the servings in this menu come in lots of six; you can also add an all-you-can-drink soft drink option for an extra 150 yen.

Yuichiro began to tuck into his order of eight regular takoyaki.

▼ Don’t they look magnificent?

▼ Yum.

He began to realize that he was actually in something of a privileged position compared to his fellow buffet eaters. When you pay for a 45-minute takoyaki buffet, you feel the obligation to eat takoyaki until the 45 minutes are up. Few people can enjoy eating one foodstuff for so long, even if that foodstuff is delicious chunky octopus meat deep-fried in batter.

▼ Yuichiro’s second selection was teritama cheese consomme. A rejuvenating, exciting flavor!

What’s more, this event took place in an Aeon Mall food court. There were plenty of tempting restaurants around him, and if he had paid for the all-you-can-eat experience, he would have to simply long for the forbidden fruit of the nearby Baskin Robbins while shoveling even more octopus balls into his mouth.

▼ His third and final order was takoyaki dusted with green onions. Crisp, refreshing, and light.

Yuichiro, though, was held by no such obligation. He finished the last bite of his delicious green onion takoyaki and looked at the timer.

Eleven minutes. Why, that’s a perfect amount of time to stroll over to the nearby Baskin Robbins…

…and order himself a small double cone.

There were ways in which Yuichiro’s buffet experience fell short, naturally. For one thing, his takoyaki-and-ice-cream-eating escapade cost him a grand total of 2,596 yen — much pricier than the Tsukiji Gindako offer of 980 yen plus tax. However, Yuichiro had truly eaten until he was satisfied; he hadn’t overeaten, and he’d even had the freedom to pick his own dessert. So 2,596 yen seemed an adequate price to pay.

▼ The price included this adorable octopus-labeled green tea he bought to wash the balls down.

What’s the moral here? Well, you could take many things from it — but most importantly, Yuichiro found himself in a dire situation and made the best of it, and found true full-bellied happiness along the way. Also, it turns out it’s really easy to brush off FOMO (the feeling of missing out) if you just pretend you’re taking part in your own imagination. Imagination is truly a remarkable thing.

Images © SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

[ Read in Japanese ]