When the coronavirus crisis collides with food, the results are not always pretty — but they’re not necessarily ugly either. Read on for a bit of both:
- Indoor grilling isn’t a new concept, but in the era of the new normal, it can make the difference between a restaurant surviving or closing its doors. Good ventilation is turning into a secret weapon for yakiniku, or grilled meat, restaurants, where customers cook raw flesh and veggies at the table.
- At Oniku Japan (“Meat Japan”), Junko Katane sells beef by the kilo, offering buyers a cheaper deal and what she calls “the power and beauty of a block of meat.” Offering a range of domestic beef by the block, sales jumped tenfold in 2020 from the previous year as more people became home cooks.
- The Kawaii Monster Cafe, which symbolized Japan’s cute pop culture and was loved by tourists and celebs alike, has shut its doors in Tokyo after business dried up in the pandemic. On Sunday, fans flocked to the cafe to say sayonara to the “Monster Girls,” the Mushroom Disco and the Mel-Tea Room.
- The coronavirus has helped break down the “invisible wall” between food producers and consumers. But is it enough to change wasteful habits? There are signs that attitudes toward food loss in Japan are shifting, and the recent disruption is accelerating this trend, writes Florentyna Leow.
- COVID-19 fears have triggered a shift away from restaurant dining, leaving many chefs in Japan out of work and looking to devise ways to stay in business as their normal clientele stay home. Some are turning to cooking in shared kitchens or serving as personal chefs in homes to make ends meet.