At least there’s no mistaking what’s inside.

An unusual social side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has been its impact on the Japanese year-end tradition of fukubukuro or “lucky bags.” These are special bags of a store or restaurant’s goods, the contents of which often turn out to be more than the price paid.

Because of this they can be a huge draw and lead to big crowds during the New Year’s holidays. However, since no company wants their holiday sale to make headlines as a super spreader event, some places decided to do it differently.

In some cases, the new normal is that lucky bags are reserved and/or purchased online in advance. That’s just what our writer Seiji Nakazawa did to get a fukubukuro from beef-bowl chain Yoshinoya, and much to his delight it even arrived early!

Perhaps one perk to having it delivered to his home is that the lucky bag doesn’t really need to be a bag at all anymore. In this case he got a fuku-box in the shape of the famous Yoshinoya bowl. Since it’s reusable, this alone would be worth the 5,184 yen (US$45.60) price for die-hard fans of the restaurant.

And just as you might expect, this giant Yoshinoya bowl was full of a bunch of Yoshinoya food!

Since Yoshinoya has long sold home versions of its dishes in retort (boil-in-bag) pouches, this was the perfect opportunity to bring that classic taste into Seiji’s home. Here’s the full count of what he got.

Beef bowl ingredients 3 x120 gram (4.2 ounce) pouches

Pork bowl ingredients 2 x 120 gram (4.2 ounce) pouches

Beef yakiniku bowl ingredients 2 x 120 gram (4.2 ounce) pouches

Grilled chicken bowl ingredients 2 x 120 gram (4.2 ounce) pouches

Oyakodon (chicken and egg bowl) ingredients 1 x 120 gram (4.2 ounce) pouch

Eel Kabayaki 1 x pouch with two pieces of eel

Pickled ginger 1 x 60 gram (2.1 ounce) pouch

In addition to all that, there was also one randomly chosen capsule from the Yoshinoya miniature capsule toy series. Seiji received the At Home Set, which was fitting.

However, this was actually the first time Seiji ever tried Yoshinoya retort pouches. He decided to start with the standard beef bowl. The pouches just contain the toppings and it was up to Seiji to procure the rice.

He was amazed at how well the taste of the restaurant was maintained in this pouch. Both the flavor and the texture were spot on.

As for the others, Seiji was a little ashamed to admit that he never really ate anything from Yoshinoya aside from the normal beef bowl. But since that was faithfully reproduced it looked like this was going to be the perfect chance to experience the other dishes they have to offer.

When eating the eel kabayaki, pork bowl, and beef yakiniku bowl, he could easily get a feel of Yoshinoya from each.

▼ Eel kabayaki

▼ Beef yakiniku bowl

▼ Pork bowl

On the other hand, the chicken dishes were a little weak. The grilled chicken bowl didn’t feel very fresh compared to the beef, but the sauce had a good taste.

The oyakodon had some nice and gooey eggs, but they weren’t really flavorful enough to carry the whole dish. Seiji thought that perhaps mixing the two chicken pouches would lead to something worthwhile.

Ideas like that are actually what makes the Yoshinoya lucky box kind of great. Since everything is prepared at home, you can experiment by mixing and matching or creating your own unique toppings with their classic ingredients as a foundation.

It’s also great because contrary to other restaurant lucky bags that usually give lots of coupons, these pouches save you repeated trips to the store. That’s especially appreciated in the cold winter months of the New Year’s holidays. 

Photos: ©SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]