The Japanese beef with a thirty-year waitlist
The Extreme Croquettes made with Kobe beef became popular after going viral in 2016 and now have a waiting time of around thirty-two years.
Located in the city of Takasago, Japan, family-run butcher’s shop Asahiya was founded in 1926. After World War II, the shop began selling affordably priced beef croquettes, although these did not become a hit until many years later in 1994 when Shigero Nitta inherited the shop from his father and decided to sell the croquettes online. Made with deep fried potato and high-quality Kobe beef, the dumplings were initially only sold in the shop, before they decided to experiment with an online shop to attract more customers. The butcher’s shop sells a variety of different beef croquettes, with the ‘Extreme Croquettes’ being the most popular and having the longest waiting time, however they also sell ‘Premier Croquettes’ which currently only have a four-year waiting list.
The reason behind the croquettes being a hit is not just due to flavour. Kobe beef is known as one of the best and most expensive types of beef in the world, as it is a type of rare Wagyu beef made using Japanese black cattle. The cattle are only reared in Japan’s Hyōgo Prefecture, which is where Nitta’s shop is located, meaning all of his beef is directly from local providers. Regardless of this, Nitta decided that he would price the croquettes at just 270 yen (£1.40) each. All of the ingredients used are locally sourced, including three-year-old A5 Kobe beef and potatoes from a nearby farm.
Since the beef was more expensive for them to buy than the price of each croquette – Kobe beef was approximately 400 yen (£2.30), the shop was initially not making a profit and decided to only produce 200 croquettes per week. Following this, a report was written about the croquettes in 2016 which drove the croquettes to becoming so popular, the shop had a 16-year waitlist and they were forced to stop production temporarily. However, customers continued requesting the croquettes and so the shop raised the price to 540 yen (£3.40) each, although currently beef remains far more expensive than this meaning this particular product does not make ‘ a profit. The shop also increased production from 200 croquettes per week, to 200 per day to meet demand.
Nitta, the owner, has said that as long as there is a demand, he will continue to produce the croquettes. However, despite people asking him to produce even more of the delicious treats, he has said that it is not financially viable to increase production further as it would simply create more of a deficit. Reportedly, many people who try the croquettes go on to purchase Kobe beef from Asahiya and Nitta considers this a good marketing tactic.
The shop does not only rely on the Kobe beef croquettes, but sells other popular items such as lean beef and beef loin croquettes, which are available as takeaway items. The website and butcher’s shop also sells different cuts of meat available for delivery, including Kobe pork, dry-cured ham and Tajima beef. A multi-box of the Extreme Croquettes costs roughly £16 and customers can be added to the waiting list via the website.