It’s a long way from the office, but it’s the most authentic Brazilian food we can find without going all the way to Brazil.

“Hey, you feel like going to Oizumi for lunch?”

It was an unexpected question that our boss, Yoshio, asked SoraNews24 Japanese-language reporter P.K. Sanjun. Our office is in downtown Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighborhood, but Oizumi is in Gunma Prefecture, about a two-hour drive away.

Still Japanese etiquette generally holds that when your boss asks you to lunch, it means he’s planning on paying, so P.K. said sure, he was down for a drive up to Gunma, and away they went. And even though P.K. had never been to Oizumi before, he knew he’d arrived when he started seeing signs like this.

You’ll see a lot of advertisements in Japan with bits of English, French, or other foreign-language words added for stylish flair. The entire thing being in a language other than Japanese is a rarer find, though, especially when it’s all in Portuguese, like this one is. But as P.K. would soon see, this is a pretty common sight in Oizumi, where approximately 20 percent of the population of 42,000 people is non-Japanese, and about one in ten residents is Brazilian.

Oizumi has a number of factories, including ones for Panasonic and Subaru. When the native population started dwindling in the 1990s, companies started recruiting workers from overseas, especially Brazil, which has long had a friendly relationship with Japan. In addition to a welcoming atmosphere, the city also has support organizations set up to help immigrants adjust to life in Gunma.

But P.K. and Yoshio weren’t here for cars or electronics, there were here for food, and their destination was market/restaurant Kioske Cibrasil.

P.K. has never been to Brazil, but stepping through the door of Kioske Cibrasil felt like the next closest thing. He and Yoshio were the only Japanese people in the place, and all of the clerks and customers were speaking Portuguese, with the clerks thanking people for shopping with a friendly “Obrigado!”

Looking over the array of candy and other snacks that he’d never seen before, P.K. was tempted to dive face first into this edible aspect of Brazilian culture. Like a good boss, though, Yoshio redirected P.K.’s focus to their all-important primary objective, getting lunch at Kioske Cibrasil’s in-store cafeteria.

First up was the 1,400-yen (US$12.15) steak lunch, a cut of lean beef packing a powerful garlic punch accompanied by cubed vegetables in an enticingly tart and tangy sauce, French fries, rice, and a fried egg.

Our dining duo also ordered the 1,300-yen feijoada, a pork, beef, and bean stew that’s a staple of Brazilian cooking. While the appearance might be a little startling to those unfamiliar with it, the flavor is surprisingly balanced, and Kioske Cibrasil’s was cooked to tender perfection.

From ordering to eating took about 15 minutes, but the delicious flavor and generous portions were well worth it. When he and Yoshi got back to the car P.K. slipped into both the passenger seat and a cozy food coma for the ride back to Tokyo, and while a trip to Brazil itself might not be in the cards just yet, P.K. can imagine a return trip to Oizumi in his very near future.

Shop/restaurant information
Kioske Cibrasil / キオスケ・シブラジル
Address: Gunma-ken, Ora-gun, Oizumi-machi, Sakada 3-13-342
Open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. (weekdays), 9 a.m.-8 p.m. (weekends)

Photos: ©SoraNews24
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