The Tanjiro’s Charcoal-grilled Mayo Chicken Bowl is lunch, cuisine cosplay, pun, and skill trial all in one.

As the most popular currently airing anime series in Japan, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is everywhere these days, and that includes gyudon (beef bowl) restaurants. On February 2, gyudon chain Sukiya began a special Demon Slayer promotion, and our Japanese-language reporter Seiji Nakazawa wasted no time checking it out.

While the the hair dye that transformed Seiji into Flame Hashira Rengoku may have faded from his locks, the passion he feels for the series hasn’t faded from his heart, and so he made a point of eating at Sukiya’s Ikebukuro Sunshine-mae branch in Tokyo. In recent years, the Ikebukuro neighborhood has become one of the city’s most vibrant otaku enclaves, and the Sunshine-mae Sukiya has gone all-out with its decorations, covering the exterior walls with massive character art displays.

Joining series protagonist Tanjiro in the mural-like illustration are his sister Nezuko and fellow Demon Slayers Inosuke Hashibira (not wearing his customary boar’s head mask), Tengen Uzui, and Zenitsu Agatsuma, comprising the core cast of the anime’s current Entertainment District arc.

Seiji was excited to see the whole group, but he was especially impressed by Zenitsu, since while the rest of the characters are posing like they’re having their photo taken, Zenitsu just looks really, really happy to be enjoying a cheese-topped gyudon.

There’s more theming going on inside, because as soon as Seiji stepped through the door, he saw…

…rows of wisteria flower replicas. Within the Demon Slayer universe, wisterias have magical anti-demon properties, and they also gave the Sukiya branch a classy, artistic atmosphere.

▼ The restaurant’s partitions have also been given a wisteria makeover, with each one now bearing the kanji for fuji (wisteria in Japanese), 藤.

Up at the order counter, Seiji saw that several other members of the Demon Slayer cast have their own recommendations for different kinds of rice bowls, curries, set meals, and desserts.

▼ The menu board almost looked like some sort of spinoff or doujinshi project.

All of these are regular menu items, though you can turn any one into a “Demon Slayer Set” for an additional 180 yen (US$1.55), which gets you a grape gelatin drink and an art card that’s exclusive to the promotion.

But what Seiji was here for was the special Demon Slayer rice bowl, which naturally is a salute to Tanjiro.

Since the premiere of the Demon Slayer anime, the traditional checkered pattern of Tanjiro’s haori coat, known as ichimatsu moyo in Japanese, has exploded in popularity in Japan, and so Sukiya uses it as the motif for the 680-yen Tanjiro’s Charcoal-grilled Mayo Chicken Bowl. Why charcoal-grilled? Because the “Tan” part of Tanjiro’s name is written with the kanji 炭, which means “charcoal.”

But to Seiji’s surprise, when the staff brought his food to him, there was no checkerboard pattern at all.

Sure, he had a tasty looking bowl of rice and chicken, and the generous portion of sliced green onions on top reminded him of half of the colors of Tanjiro’s coat, but something was missing.

Except, actually, it wasn’t. It turns out the Tanjiro’s Charcoal-grilled Mayonnaise Chicken Bowl is a bit of a do-it-yourself art project. Also on the tray was a packet of nori seaweed, cut into a dozen or so square pieces.

To complete the rice bowl’s Demon Slayer cosplay outfit, you arrange those nori pieces yourself, and when you’re done the iconic Tanjiro pattern is formed.

That’s the plan, anyway. Unfortunately, whether because of a lack of manual dexterity or simply being in a rush to start eating, Seiji’s arrangement was less than perfect.

In a way, this test of speed and precision feels like a metaphor for the Final Selection trial that Demon Slayer cadets go through as part of their training. Seiji isn’t sure that he’d ever be able to rise to full Hashira status, but we don’t think they’d completely kick him out of the corps for this.

As for the flavor, it’s meaty and satisfying, though you might want to pop a breath mint after you’re done if you’ve got an important business meeting or hot date afterwards, since there are a lot of green onions.

Though the Demon Slayer menu and art card promotion is going on at all Sukiya branches, Seiji really does recommend eating at the Ikebukuro Sunshine-mae location. The way this branch has gone all-out with their decorations almost makes it feel like an anime collaboration cafe, and it’ll look this way until March 15.

Restaurant information
Sukiya (Ikebukuro Sunshine-mae branch) / すき家(池袋サンシャイン前店)
Address: Tokyo-to, Toshima-ku, Higashi Ikebukuro 4-25-9
Open 24 hours

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