Free samples of salmon beef, salmon pork, and salmon chicken coming to Tokyo.

Salmon is widely seen as a signature topping for sushi, but you might be surprised to learn that this is a relatively recent development. Until the mid-’80s eating salmon sushi was practically unheard of in Japan because the fish was considered not suitable to eat raw when caught in the wild, but thanks to a very ambitious “Project Japan” campaign by the fishing industry of Norway the country largely overcame its prejudice and then some, with salmon often topping the charts of sushi toppings.

However, in recent years, overall salmon consumption in Japan has taken a dip. While still popular as a sushi topping, an increasing number of people are seeing salmon as too costly and inconvenient to frequently eat at home. So, the Norwegian Seafood Council has decided to step in again with Project Japan 2.0 and its equally ambitious goal of making salmon Japan’s “fourth meat” alongside beef, pork, and chicken.

As a part of this campaign, they will be setting up the Samo, Meat Shop (Samo, Nikuyasan) which is a pun on the Japanese word “samo” which means “as if” and which also sounds a lot like “salmon.” As such, this pop up store will highlight the versatility of salmon by selling it in ways commonly associated with beef, pork, and chicken, which they refer to as “samoniku” (“salmon meat/as if meat”).

The Samo, Meat Shop will be open from 28 November to 2 December in honor of Good Meat Day on 29 November. This holiday is based on the fact that the numbers 11/29 can be read as “ii niku,” which is also how to say “good meat” in Japanese. So, while open, the first 1,129 visitors will receive a free sample of one of the three following samoniku dishes.

First, there’s the obvious Salmon Steak as a counterpart to beef steaks which will be given out cubed and skewered.

Then there’s a Salmon Katsu, a breaded and fried cutlet commonly associated with pork in Japan.

And finally, Salmon Nanban, a varition of Japan’s chicken nanban dish of chicken with tartar sauce.

In addition to the the free samples, the Samo, Meat Shop also has three challenges for visitors to complete in exchange for a free prize. This first involves playing “Portion Challenge” where you have to try to choose the cut of salmon closest to 120 grams. Next, there’s the VR Norway Salmon Farm Experience which will whisk you halfway across the world to see where it all begins. Finally, you must earn your stripes as a Samo, Meat Shop Ambassador by posting images of the store and/or its food on social media.

Last but not least, the Samo, Meat Shop is asking everyone to take the Samoniku Switch Declaration. This involves bringing a receipt for a beef, pork, or chicken product that you had purchased and renouncing your allegiance to said meat while accepting the deliciousness of Norwegian salmon into your hearts. For each day, everyone who takes the pledge will be entered into a contest wherein five winners will be sent a free salmon fillet at a later date.

There’s a whole lot going on in this little shop for five days, so you can see how dedicated Norway is to this cause. And considering how dramatically they changed the face of sushi in Japan before, we may very well be witnessing the beginning of yet another revolution in the nation’s cuisine.

Store information
Samo, Meat Shop / さも、肉屋
Address: Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Udagawacho 16-8, Shibuya Center Bldg. 1F
東京都渋谷区宇田川町 16-8渋谷センタービル・1F
Open: 28 November – 2 December
Hours: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Images: ©Seafood from Norway
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