The Longest Wait for a Bite: Japanese Shop Sells Kobe Beef Croquettes with a 43-Year Waitlist

If you are craving for some crispy and juicy Kobe beef croquettes, you might have to wait for more than four decades to get them from a family-run butcher shop in Japan. Asahiya, located in Takasago City in western Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture, has a 43-year waitlist for its frozen Kobe beef croquettes, which are made with the finest quality of Wagyu beef and potatoes.

Asahiya was founded in 1926 and has been selling meat products from Hyogo prefecture, including the famous Kobe beef, for decades. The shop added beef croquettes to its shelf in the years following WWII, but it was not until the early 2000s that these deep-fried potato and beef dumplings became an internet sensation, resulting in the ridiculously long wait buyers now face.

The Longest Wait for a Bite: Japanese Shop Sells Kobe Beef Croquettes with a 43-Year Waitlist
The Longest Wait for a Bite: Japanese Shop Sells Kobe Beef Croquettes with a 43-Year Waitlist

According to Shigeru Nitta, the third-generation owner of Asahiya, the shop started selling its products through online shopping in 1999 and offered Extreme Croquettes as a trial. These are one of the four types of Kobe beef croquettes available at Asahiya and are made with three-year-old female A5-ranked Kobe beef, which is the highest grade of Wagyu beef.

Nitta said that he sold Extreme Croquettes at a very low price of JPY270 ($1.80) per piece, even though the beef in them alone costs about JPY400 ($2.70) per piece. He said that he wanted to attract customers to try the croquettes and then hope that they would buy his Kobe beef after the first try. He also said that he only produced 200 croquettes in his own kitchen next to his shop each week to limit the financial loss.

What makes the croquettes so special?

The cheap price tag of the Extreme Croquettes does not reflect the quality of the ingredients. They are made fresh daily with no preservatives and are frozen before shipping. The ingredients include Kobe beef and potatoes sourced from a local ranch, as well as onions, eggs, flour, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. The croquettes are deep-fried in vegetable oil until golden and crispy on the outside and soft and moist on the inside.

Nitta said that he only sells meat that was produced in Hyogo Prefecture, whether it’s Kobe beef, Kobe pork or Tajima chicken. He said that this has been the style of the shop since before he became the owner. He also said that his grandfather used to ride to Sanda, another famous Wagyu-breeding area in Hyogo, by bike with a handcart to pick up the produce himself.

Nitta said that he has a close relationship with the local beef producers and knows the history and quality of each cow. He said that he visits the local ranches and beef auctions with his father since he was young and took over the shop from his father in 1994 when he was 30 years old.

How long do you have to wait to get the croquettes?

The popularity of the Extreme Croquettes soared after they were featured on various TV shows and websites in Japan. Nitta said that he received thousands of orders online and had to close the order page in 2003. He said that he has been fulfilling the orders in chronological order ever since and estimates that it will take another 43 years to clear the backlog.

He said that he has increased the production of the croquettes to 800 per week, but he still cannot keep up with the demand. He said that he does not want to compromise the quality of the croquettes by outsourcing the production or using cheaper ingredients. He said that he wants to make the best croquettes for his customers and hopes that they will enjoy them when they finally receive them.

For those who cannot wait for nearly four decades, the shop also offers Premier Kobe Beef Croquettes, which have a more reasonable four-year waitlist. These croquettes are made with two-year-old male A4-ranked Kobe beef, which is slightly lower in grade than the Extreme Croquettes. The shop also sells Regular Kobe Beef Croquettes and Kobe Pork Croquettes, which are available for immediate purchase at the shop or online.

Nitta said that he is grateful for the support and patience of his customers and hopes that they will continue to love his products. He said that he is proud of his croquettes and believes that they are worth the wait.

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