No more getting to the restaurant only to find they don’t have what you want!

If there’s one thing we always look forward to about Japanese restaurants, it’s their limited-time-only menus and low-price deals. Often seasonal, sometimes ridiculous, but always exciting, these dishes and deals, which can be on the menu for as short as a few days, draw customers like flies to honey.

But what happens if you, as a customer, go out of your way to a restaurant to try a limited edition menu item like the new Pikachu Donuts at Mister Donut, or to take advantage of an amazing deal like all-you-can-eat fancy shaved ice for just 3,800 yen, and they aren’t actually offering it? Big disappointment, that’s what. Apparently, that’s been a problem at revolving sushi restaurant chain Sushiro, where, back in June, the popular sushi shop earned ire when it advertised a half-price beer that they allegedly knew they couldn’t actually provide.

Understandably, customers were upset when they arrived at their local Sushiro only to find that the super cheap beer wasn’t available (though by the time we went in July they seemed to have sorted it out). In the end, the Consumer Affairs Agency had to step in on the grounds that they were violating the Act against Unjustifiable Premiums and Misleading Representations with “bait-and-switch advertising”, leaving Sushiro looking for a way to resolve their customers’ dissatisfaction.

That solution was a new system whereby customers can check the stock not only of the limited-edition menu items but also the regular items online before they visit their local Sushiro. You can find this information on both the website and the app. On the website, look for a red button with a clipboard icon that says “branches’ sold-out information” (各店舗の品切れ情報はこちら), which you can find on the “menu” (メニュー) page, each branch’s information page, and any campaign information pages.

▼ Here it is on the menu page, for example

From there, select your preferred branch by prefecture and city, and then you will see which dishes land in the four categories of unavailability: “Ended promotions” (販売終了), “Sold out for the day” (本日分完売), “No delivery for the day” (入荷無 本日分), and “In preparation” (準備中).

According to the website, “ended promotions” refers to limited-time-only menu items whose time period has ended. “Sold out for the day” indicates items that were prepared in limited quantities according to expected sales that have sold out. “No delivery for the day” are products that are not available as a result of stocking and distribution issues that may (or may not) be resolved the next day. Lastly, “In preparation” means the restaurant is awaiting deliveries or currently doing prep work and is unable, at the moment, to offer a specific dish.

▼ Out of stock notices for our local Sushiro branch

As a trial, when we searched for the Sushiro nearest our home office in Shinjuku at the end of the day, it showed Kobe Beef Nigiri, Red Rockfish Tempura Nigiri, Raw Surf Clam Tasting Plate, and Raw Surf Clams as “Sold out” for the day, while there were no items to display in the other categories.

Presumably, the restaurants update the information in real-time, so you should be able to get accurate information about the dishes you really want to eat when you need it. It’s a convenient way to please customers and reduce complaints in regards to unavailable menu items, and should, hopefully, improve the quality of work life for Sushiro restaurant employees too.

Source: Kobe Shimbun via Otacom, Sushiro
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Insert images: Sushiro