Tokyo Table Trip

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A new service called "Shokuoku," or food auction, is currently being debated in Japan. Nine difficult-to-reserve restaurants (Sushi Saito, Sushi Shunji, Chiune, Aca, Seizan, Saika, Takiya, Gourmandise, and Kyotenjin Noguchi) are planning to participate in this service, which will allow members to buy seats for a specific date through an auction system.

With more than 1,000 members already registered, it is expected that seats will sell at a very high price.

The key point is that the seats available by auction will be decided by the restaurants, not by customers. Restaurant owners are saying that the program's goal is "to help improve conditions in the restaurant industry," but if they want to increase sales, why not simply raise prices? Am I the only one who thinks so?!

I think it's not appropriate to raise prices, effectively without any limit, by taking advantage of the "difficulty of making reservations" with a small number of customers. Looking at the line-up of restaurant faces participating in this service, many people enjoy a personal relationship with the Sushi Saito group, which makes me feel this is just a "money-grab."

In Japan, there have been a lot of negative reactions, and I have heard quite a few people say, "I will never go to such a restaurant again." This kind of auction service was expected to appear sooner or later, but do you really want to use it?

Well, there may be people who want to visit Sushi Saito once, even if they have to pay 500,000 yen, so it could be a good service for those people.

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https://shokuoku.com/

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kanivour

https://www.instagram.com/kanivour/

For those who are curious,

Closing prices for the auctions:

Saito, 2 seats - 400,000
Saito, 1 seat - 207,000
Saito, 1 seat - 190,000
Aca, 2 seats - 412,000
Saika, 2 seats - 86,000

over 1 year ago 1665997777

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guest

some the auctions are live now. Very suspicious, opaque system - no info on starting price, no bid history, and I dont even see when it will end.

almost 2 years ago 1665529582

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Just_Ingest

IG: Sushisibz

There is a lot of good discussion here. My question to all: how important is developing a rapport with the chef to you? As Saito-san mentioned in his article on Hashiguchi, "Owner Affinity" is quite an important thing. If you have a regular place you visit (even outside of Japan), you KNOW this to be true. More likely than not, the chef will remember your preferences and interact pleasantly with you, at a deeper level than if you just visited the restaurant once.

While I would obviously never pass up on an opportunity to visit somewhere like Sugita, the difficulty of securing reservations + his already established clientele means that I'll never be able to establish a close relationship with the chef. If I had the chance to dine there, it would probably me more of a one-off gastronomic experience than anything.

On the other hand, there are many places (outside of Omakase and these auction systems) that are much easier to book. You may even find them more delicious than what Tabelog ratings deem the "best" restaurants in town. Given this, I would much prefer revisiting some of the places I enjoyed the most; on some of my revisit occasions, I remember feeling much more relaxed: not only had I been there once (so I kind of knew what to expect), but the chef was also more willing to engage.

In summary - 1) There are plenty of accessible choices in Tokyo that don't require Omakase, auctions, membership systems, referrals, and other things; 2) While it's not a bad idea to chase superstar restaurants (we - yours truly included - often fall into this trap), I also encourage people to revisit the places they most enjoyed, and hopefully develop a relationship with the chef. Maybe when their store explodes in popularity sometime, they'll still let you in!

almost 2 years ago 1664173346

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ChuToroZuke

I don't like this concept either, let along any tech company trying to sweep up reservations to resell, regardless what country they are in. It is a sad day when restaurant reservations are being treated like limited edition rare handbags, extremely prized wines and sake, concert tickets, or the latest holiday fad gadget, in the name of profit. But that is classic human nature at its worst. It is unfortunate these esteemed restaurants are choosing to operate that way and hide behind the guise of fairness. That really speaks to their business philosophy and ethics. I'm perfectly fine not going at all to these establishments, since there are so many other great worthy restaurants out there with unique styles, characters, even mom & pop establishments, that deliver satisfaction and unforgettable unique experiences, that don't need to be a part of this joke.

almost 2 years ago 1663736834

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guest

Most high end European restaurants is not “relatively” much larger than the Japanese restaurant. They at most can accomodate 2x-3x the occupants per night. Rarely able to turn tables during dinner due to the length of the meal anyway and they are also quite flexible with the slot (only limited seating per 15min frame so not everybody will come in together). Not to even mention the exponentially higher operating cost for running an European restaurant with larger staff and floor space. The best in class places is still hard to get in, and demand far outweight supply. But they are also happy to serve everyone. Its 2022, it just makes sense.

almost 2 years ago 1664167216

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