Like a box of chocolates, you never know which one you’re gonna get.

There are two things that excite our reporter MG Ogawa: wagyu beef, especially the Omi beef variety, and the thrill of a gacha vending machine.

It’s not often these two things come together, so when MG heard there was an Omi beef gacha vending machine on a street in Osaka, he wasted no time in setting out to find it.

Following the directions shared by meat-loving sleuths online, MG arrived at the secret spot in Osaka’s Ibaraki City where the machine was said to be located, and his eye was immediately drawn to its head-turning red exterior.

The vending machine looked like any other, but don’t let its looks deceive you — there’s a surprise in store for those in the know, and it’s spelled out with the word “ガチャ” (“gacha”) on four of its panels.

Selecting any of the gacha panels allows you to use it in a similar way to a gacha capsule toy vending machine — simply pop your money in and a surprise will pop out at random!

The surprise options are all Omi beef, and can range from short ribs up to sirloin and Viennese steak. People who don’t like surprises can choose their preferred meat from one of the other selections, where items like roast Iberico pork, beef tongue, mixed offal and tender skirt steak are on offer, but MG was here for the gacha experience.

▼ So he popped in the required 2,000 yen (US$13.88) and pressed the purchase button.

According to what was written on the machine, the gacha meats are all worth more than the 2,000 yen you pay for them, so MG’s heart was pounding with excitement as he reached down to retrieve his purchase from the tray below.

▼ Which Omi surprise will he get?

He received the “Omi Beef Special Lean Steak Set“, which usually retails for 2,480 yen! A 480-yen discount is nothing to sneeze at, especially when it comes to expensive Omi beef, so MG felt exhilarated as he walked back to the car with his purchase.

What awaited him in the car was his mother, and she was clutching 2,000 yen of her own. After seeing his purchase, she told him she would challenge him to a gacha showdown, hopping out of the car and over to the machine to see if she could do a better job of snaring a bargain.

▼ Would MG’s mother be able to get a more expensive cut of Omi beef?

▼ She received the “Omi beef Dragon Short Ribs“, which had a retail price of…2,490 yen!

That means MG’s mother had beaten him with the discount, getting a greater deal by 10 yen. Still, he wouldn’t let that harsh his mellow, because now he and his mother had two types of Omi beef between them, and they were going straight home to eat them.

According to the packaging, the beef had been provided by the Yamamuraya butcher shop, which has its main store in Kyoto and is lauded by meat lovers online. That made MG and his mother even more excited to taste what they had bought, and after defrosting their purchases, they popped them in a frypan.

▼ Ribs on the left, lean steak on the right

▼ The delicious aroma of wagyu beef wafted throughout the kitchen, making MG’s mouth water.

The meat didn’t take long to cook, and MG and his mother decided to enjoy the ribs and steak on their own, with a simple side salad.

▼ Starting with the Dragon Ribs, MG lifted a morsel to his lips for a taste.

Whoah, this was really good! The more he chewed, the more the umami of the meat and the sweetness of the fat came through. It was far more delicious than he anticipated, and now he couldn’t wait to try the lean steak.

This was also delicious! The meat was neither too soft nor too hard, and it had a richer flavour than the ribs. To be honest, MG found it difficult to decide which of the two were better, but in the end, he decided his mum’s Dragon Ribs took the top spot by a slight margin, due to the higher fat content, which made it taste extra juicy and delicious.

So it seems MG’s mum had ultimately beaten him in this gacha showdown, both in terms of flavour and value for money. But at the end of the day, they’d both had a fantastic meal of Omi beef, so there were no real losers at the dinner table. It was such a fun adventure that he’s now considering a trip to Aichi Prefecture to try the vending machine that sells Yutakaushi wagyu, and he might just bring his mum along for the ride too.

Related: Meat Gacha Vending Machine Locations
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