During my perusal of old entries in Triumphs & Tribulations, I came across the July 31, 2007 entry in Volume XI. It was on that particular Tuesday evening, after work, that I saw something I had never seen before: a 3-level KFC. I was so intrigued by the concept and the smell of freshly fried chicken in the street that I stopped in to get some of the Colonel’s good stuff before hopping back on the Ōme Line back to Fussa. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the KFC in Japan experience.
How I first came across this moment? I had actually first encountered KFC in Japan during my first weekend in-country: I discovered it during my walkthrough around Fussa Station. Not being much of a KFC fan in the United States, I didn’t even bother to try initially. I preferred McDonald’s…especially after I realized they served apple pies that were actually hot. That Tuesday evening trip to Tachikawa after work changed everything though. Having just come out of the Yodobashi Camera, I saw the 3-level KFC from down the street. It was illuminated brightly and you could smell the chicken from ½ a block out as I approached. I gave in, made my way into the store, and the rest is history.
What it meant to me then? In the moment, I was just hungry. It was almost 9pm and I hadn’t eaten since early afternoon. I ordered a 2-piece Original Recipe set, which consisted of a wing and a breast, medium fries, and a drink at ¥790. It was delicious. From that point forward, KFC became my go-to fast food chicken spot in all of Japan. Overall, it was 4th on my depth chart of chicken spots in-country behind CoCo Ichibanya, the highly controversial chicken shack, and Mama Sanders’ dining room during a Sunday dinner fellowship. The food was always good at KFC in Japan, even though it was never crispy. They had arguably the best wings in Asia and those chicken filets were fantastic. Above all, I loved the customer service and the ambiance whenever I walked into one of their locations. The staff was always so pleasant and professional…the vibe of the store was always inviting. I can’t tell you how many times they took pictures with me in front of the Colonel Sanders statue out front. The food was on the expensive side…even by Tokyo standards. That’s one of the reasons why it’s in the cleanup spot. Nevertheless, it was always a good experience at KFC.
What it means to me now? I haven’t been to a KFC in Japan since April 30, 2010: I copped the chicken filet burger set in Ginza on the way home from seeing Blue Man Group. I can’t say what it means to me now. We’re more than 10 years past my last time being inside of a Japan-based KFC. Heck, I haven’t been in a KFC period in like 5 years at least. I think I may have moved on from the taste but the experience still lingers. Maybe the next time I’m in Tokyo—perhaps for next year’s Olympic Games—I’ll stop in.