And the server’s zealous service nearly brought us to our knees. 

When the server placed the curry down before him, our reporter Yuuichiro Wasai froze. In the 30-some years that he’d been eating at Gyoza no Ohsho, he’d never experienced such despair. “What were you thinking?” Yuuichiro thought, staring at his plate with the desperation of a man who could not take any more. He hadn’t even the energy to say anything. He was at his limit.

You see, Japanese fast-food chain Gyoza no Ohsho was–and still is–offering an all-you-can-eat curry plan, but only at its standing-table-only Express Atre Akihabara branch in Tokyo. Within a time limit of 30 minutes, diners can get free refills of rice and Tantan curry (spicy curry with ground meat) for just 1,188 yen (US$8.47). Yuuichiro was there to check it out for us–but not everything went to plan.

The day was bright and optimistic when Yuuichiro arrived at the Express Atre Akihabara Branch. He thought he’d easily be able to break even with the plan, if not get more than his money’s worth. Since a regular-size plate of Tantan curry costs 638 yen, Yuuichiro determined he would have to eat two to make it even. But Gyoza no Ohsho also offers a half-size (called the “Just size”) for 385 yen, so he’d only have to eat three of those to make it close to the 1,188 yen price tag, which is half a plate less than two regular plates. That wouldn’t be too hard at all.

But that distinction would make all the difference. Wondering which size he would receive, Yuuichiro told the server he was going in for all-you-can-eat. What soon arrived at his table was…

A very clearly regular-sized curry! Nope, no mini size here. “Well, better get to work,” Yuuichiro thought, picking up his spoon.

He tucked in and finished it in good time, then ordered his second. To see if the delivery time between bowls would make a difference in how many a customer could order in the 30-minute limit, Yuuichiro started a stopwatch as soon as he placed his order. Imagine his surprise when his second plate arrived in less than 24 seconds.

Given that they had to not only dish both the rice and curry but also bring it to Yuuichiro’s table, that was impressively quick. For those with big appetites who really want to make full use of the 30 minutes, this is good news.

But for those just trying to break even on this deal, it didn’t really matter. In fact, Yuuichiro was already kind of regretting taking part in this experiment, because after the first plate, he was thinking he really only needed a half size more.

As those waves of regret began washing over him, Yuuichiro’s second plate arrived. Compared to when his first plate arrived, Yuuichiro was feeling far less hungry, but he figured he could handle one more plate.

At first, it seemed like a cakewalk. The curry was tasty, and finishing it looked just a few bites away. The problem came at the halfway mark. His steady progress faltered and became a slog that made it harder and harder to finish. He felt like he was lifting his spoon out of sheer force of will, like he was walking at the end of a marathon, but couldn’t stop.

Somehow, he made it to the last three bites.

This was it. The finish line was near. But…all that was left was rice. Something had happened in the way he distributed the rice and curry, and he ran out of curry to eat with these last bites of rice. This would not do, so Yuuichiro hailed a server.

“Excuse me, I’ve only got a little bit of rice left. Could I maybe get an equal amount of curry to eat it with?

The server was quick to respond. After all, Yuuichiro was still within the time limit. But what arrived was…

Way too much curry!!!

It was probably a whole other plate’s worth of curry, honestly.

I mean, it was definitely too much curry for the remaining rice.

Yuichiro couldn’t really fault the server. Perhaps it was done in the spirit of good service, as if to say, “Have as much as you need.” But to Yuuichiro, it was like climbing nine-tenths of the way up a mountain, then falling down halfway and breaking his ankle. In reality, it is not an exaggeration to say that this development nearly made Yuuichiro’s knees buckle, which is not good in a standing-only restaurant.

Resigned, Yuuichiro did his best to finish all of the curry, but he felt the challenge in every cell of his body. This was quite possibly one of the most difficult meals of his life, but Yuuichiro made it through.

Gyoza no Ohsho’s Express Atre Akihabara branch is also currently offering all-you-can-eat gyoza, ramen, and karaage fried chicken, so if you’ve got an iron will and are looking for a huge meal, you’ll definitely want to stop by. It’s just too bad there are no Stella Cookies shops in Tokyo that offer all-you-can-eat cookies…then you could have a true meal of champions.

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