“Beauty & Health” store has some surprising meals in the fridge for customers.

Ever since the coronavirus pandemic hit Japan last year, unstaffed stores have become increasingly popular, with customers now able to purchase everything from ramen to used clothes without having to interact with another human being.

Now, there’s another product being sold from a store without staff, and this one is not for the faint-hearted, as it specialises in offal. That’s right — this pretty, inviting-looking space with pink lights contains fridges filled with entrails.

▼ There’s also a range of merchandise and beer on tap inside the unstaffed store.

Located in Tokyo’s upmarket Ebisu neighbourhood, this offal store — called “Naizoo“, which translates to “internal organs” — could be mistaken for a hip bar, especially as the English on the signboard doesn’t reveal a lot about it. The sign simply starts off with “Beauty & Health” in English, but in Japanese beneath it, it reads “Original offal ‘beef entrails’ specialist store“.

▼ The other English on the sign reads: “No staff”, “Open 24 hours”, “Self register”, “Only cashless” and “Only honest person”

All that, to a non-Japanese speaker, might suggest this was an unstaffed beauty salon or health-food store. And that wouldn’t be an entirely wrong assumption, because in Japan offal is widely believed to have a beautifying effect, due to its beneficial collagen protein content.

Once you get up close to the products in the fridge, however, there’s no mistaking what you’ll be buying, as the contents are clearly written in English on the front of these boxes.

Our Japanese-language reporter Mr Sato was keen to regain his youthful beauty, so when he stopped by he decided to make a purchase. Looking at the sign on the fridge, he found there were three boxed sets to choose from, ranging in price from 1,980 yen (US$18.18) for a four-piece pack of offal dishes, 2,980 yen for two fresh offal and two offal dishes, and 4,980 yen for a four-pack of fresh offal.

Mr Sato was hoping to just try one item, and that’s when, by some happy chance, an actual staff member appeared from the back room. Apparently, staff are sometimes on hand to help customers with the purchase process, although the actual purchase and payment is handled by the customer themselves.

The helpful staff member told Mr Sato that it was possible to purchase items individually, although they did mention that the price per item would work out to be more expensive than if he were to buy the set. That didn’t bother Mr Sato, though, who’d spied a beef tendon stew in the fridge that was calling his name.

Mr Sato picked up the beef tendon stew and headed over to the self-register, where there are no options to pay by cash, so he decided to pay by credit card. At 980 yen this was an expensive meal, but the meat is said to be instantly frozen at minus-60-degrees Celsius (minus-76-degrees Fahrenheit) within 15 hours of being made, for optimum freshness. That means the quality, and the price, is higher than what you’d find at most supermarkets.

Though there were fresh cuts of offal available, the beef tendon stew was one of the ready-made meal options that simply required in-bag reheating in a pot of boiling water.

Once it was done, Mr Sato simply opened the bag and placed the contents on a bed of rice for a super fast and easy meal.

The operator of the store has a business tie-up with a wholesaler specialising in internal organs sourced from Japanese black beef, which meant the tendon stew was soft and juicy.

Mr Sato, who’s eaten his fair share of beef tendon over the years, ranked this as one of the best he’s eaten. It was similar to the kind of stewed steak you’d find at an expensive yakiniku restaurant, with a hearty flavour that also reminded him of a home-cooked meal.

While it was a surprise to find an unstaffed offal store in the middle of Tokyo, it was even more of a surprise to find that it was serving up excellent-quality products. And, like this unstaffed gyoza store in Tokyo, it’s open 24 hours a day, so you can grab a quick collagen-rich meal at any time of the day or night.

Store Information
Naizoo Hormone shop / Naizoo ホルモンショップ
Address: Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Ebisu Minami 2-3-15, Coco Space Ebisu Minami 1F
東京都渋谷区恵比寿南2-3-15 ココスペース恵比寿南1F
Hours: 24 hours a day, seven days a week

Images: SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]