Gyoza No Ohsho (餃子の王将 — Their gyoza are “Oh-sho” delicious!） was one of my favorite Chinese food places when I was living in Kyoto. Cheap sets, good food, and plentiful locations! My favorite was the ramen set: it included ramen, karaage, gyoza (of course), AND fried rice. Man was I full.
The branch right outside the Ritsumeikan campus was owned by a die-hard Beatles fan — he decked out his store with volumes upon volumes of manga (lots of ashita no joe, hajime no ippo, and captain tsubasa), rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia, and Beatles music (more often Beatles covers, actually) on the old-school stereo system he had set up. I was saddened to see one day that the whole place had been swept clean of any differentiating marks, and when I returned to Kyoto earlier this year it was “closed for repairs”.
BTW, Ohsho is some kind of mahjonng term, so the fact that they named a Chinese food chain after a mahjonng reference says something about what Japanese people think of when they think of China… what I’m not sure, but it definitely says something.
So on a completely unrelated note, recently I was Google-alerted to the fact that Ohsho is planning to open its first stores overseas in — no joke — China. And their timing couldn’t be better! Nikkei has the story:
Kansai’s Chinese food chains trying their craft on home turf
“Made in Japan” Image to appeal to middle and high-class customers (March 12, 2005)
Kansai’s restaurant industry, which has been making chain stores out of ramen stands and Chinese restaurants, continue to extend their businesses into China. At 10-30 yuan per customer (13 JPY), they plan to charge twice the amount of local restaurants. Reversing their low-price strategy for the Japanese market, the chains intend to exploit their Japanese image to target middle and upper class consumers. Escaping from the shrinking restaurant market in Japan, they are attempting to succeed in the home of Chinese cuisine.
In addition to Osaka Ohsho (opening in Shanghai, offering izakaya food as well, plans to franchise up to 25 stores) and “Bikkuri Ramen” (opening in Tsingtao, offering curry and donburi) which is famous for the 180 yen ramen bowl, Gyoza Ohsho is also opening a store in Dalian. They plan to offer grilled gyoza (generally not available in most of China), ramen, fried rice, and other items directly from the Japanese menu. They will consider expanding the chain after viewing results from the first store.