Saturday, May 18, 2024

I visited Costco on my vacation to Japan last year. I was surprised to find a 48-piece sushi platter and bulgogi bake — and I even got a free sample of booze.

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Costco has 33 warehouses in Japan. The groceries, food court, and appliances are a bit different from what shoppers in the US are used to.

Richard Truong

Richard Truong is a software engineer from Pennsylvania who has been a Costco member since 2016.
On a trip to Japan last year, Truong stopped by a Costco in Kyoto.
While the environment was very familiar, he found several food offerings he’d never seen in the US.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Richard Truong. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

I work as a software engineer for a large insurance company in Pennsylvania, and I’ve been a member of Costco since 2016. I started taking lots of pictures of the signs and prices at my local warehouse because that’s how I would budget my food expenses in college.

I enjoy traveling around the world to understand different cultures and different places because you see them on TV and in the movies, but it’s never really the same as actually being there.

It’s fun to wander around Costco warehouses in different countries and see what they have — what’s similar to the US and what’s specific to that region.

Japan is pretty cool with their food. If I had a way to cook while I’m traveling, I’d maybe buy the wagyu beef cheaper there, instead of going to a restaurant. But traveling solo, it’s pretty hard to try a lot of foods in bulk. It would not be great to have five pounds of beef to eat and five liters of alcohol to drink by myself, but I’m pretty sure I could at least down a whole sushi platter.

Japan has 32 Costco warehouses. Here’s what I saw on my visit to the one in Kyoto.

The Costco warehouse is about an hour outside of downtown Kyoto, roughly midway between Kyoto and Osaka.

Richard Truong

There was a parking lot on top of the warehouse, and a special escalator that you could put your cart on.

Richard Truong

I showed the greeter my membership card, but since I have a foreign one that’s on the back of my Citi credit card, he definitely looked confused. I guess he’d never seen one of those before.

Richard Truong

Inside, the warehouse seems very familiar, the same Costco experience. What’s different are the individual products.

Richard Truong

I found shopping in Japan to be a more pleasant experience than in the US, since the US is more chaotic and Japanese people usually are more respectful and calmer.

Richard Truong

Clothing-wise, it was pretty similar. A lot of the clothing brands are also sold in the US, like Puma, Nike, and Adidas.

Richard Truong

There were plenty of US brands…

Richard Truong

… and some items came with reusable storage containers that I hadn’t seen in US stores before.

Richard Truong

Portion sizes actually were a lot smaller on individually packed items even though they’re sold in bulk.

Richard Truong

There was a pear, peach, and currant tart I’d never seen before.

Richard Truong

Costco called these “luxury” croissants for some reason.

Richard Truong

One big thing that I noticed was a lot of the meats were US meats.

Richard Truong

A lot of the meats were labeled as USDA Choice, which was interesting to see, considering Japan is the home of Wagyu beef.

Richard Truong

There was also a remarkable variety of seafood.

Richard Truong

Sushi is probably one of the things that most people look for in a Japan Costco, but surprisingly there were only two options: one was a smaller package of salmon and mackerel sushi….

Richard Truong

… and then there was a bigger, 48-piece sushi platter that was a pretty good deal

Richard Truong

It seemed like there were more party-sized pre-made foods instead of single-family pre-made foods.

Richard Truong

There were rotisserie chickens, of course…

Richard Truong

… plus options like charcoal-grilled chicken wings…

Richard Truong

… and garlic beef rice that smelled delicious.

Richard Truong

There’s also the alcohol section, which I never see back home in Pennsylvania.

Richard Truong

They gave me an alcoholic drink, which was a different experience because my local Costco doesn’t sell alcohol, so it’s kind of unfathomable to get a sample of alcohol.

Richard Truong

All the food samples were delicious, and I would consider buying the products if I actually lived there.

Richard Truong

I took a look at the fridges and a couple of appliances.

Richard Truong

A lot of them are a bit more narrow because a lot of Japanese houses are smaller, more apartment-style.

Richard Truong

It looks like the appliances are still well-equipped tech-wise too.

Richard Truong

They had a grill that’s used for Takoyaki, which is like a pancake ball that you put octopus inside. Very good.

Richard Truong

I noticed a Tiger rice cooker, a brand that I’ve seen in the US.

Richard Truong

Soaps and shampoos were in plastic refill bags that don’t take up a lot of space like other plastic containers.

Richard Truong

The Costco food court in Kyoto is way different from the US one. There are a lot more options in Japan.

Richard Truong

Shoppers were neatly putting their carts around the perimeter of the dining area, making a kind of barricade.

Richard Truong

The hotdog is still technically $1.50 if you convert Japanese yen to US dollars. You’ll also find the Costco staples that you’d see in the US, like pizza, coffee, ice cream, and smoothies.

Richard Truong

But in Kyoto they also have very different items, like the bulgogi bake instead of the chicken bake, a shrimp bisque, a roast beef sandwich, and falafel salad.

Richard Truong

The chicken nugget bucket was pretty popular, and it was pretty massive. There were like 30 chicken nuggets and a bunch of fries — definitely not a one-person kind of meal, but I tried it anyway.

Richard Truong

The shrimp bisque was very smooth, very rich. Definitely something I was surprised they sell because you don’t really see soup options at US Costcos. It was pretty amazing.

Richard Truong

And the smoothie was actually a bit different than the US. It was a little bit sweeter and more smooth.

Richard Truong

I definitely would come back if I was staying somewhere with my own kitchen and maybe a car to take stuff back.

Richard Truong

Read the original article on Business Insider
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Read more

Share

Costco has 33 warehouses in Japan. The groceries, food court, and appliances are a bit different from what shoppers in the US are used to.

Richard Truong

Richard Truong is a software engineer from Pennsylvania who has been a Costco member since 2016.
On a trip to Japan last year, Truong stopped by a Costco in Kyoto.
While the environment was very familiar, he found several food offerings he’d never seen in the US.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Richard Truong. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

I work as a software engineer for a large insurance company in Pennsylvania, and I’ve been a member of Costco since 2016. I started taking lots of pictures of the signs and prices at my local warehouse because that’s how I would budget my food expenses in college.

I enjoy traveling around the world to understand different cultures and different places because you see them on TV and in the movies, but it’s never really the same as actually being there.

It’s fun to wander around Costco warehouses in different countries and see what they have — what’s similar to the US and what’s specific to that region.

Japan is pretty cool with their food. If I had a way to cook while I’m traveling, I’d maybe buy the wagyu beef cheaper there, instead of going to a restaurant. But traveling solo, it’s pretty hard to try a lot of foods in bulk. It would not be great to have five pounds of beef to eat and five liters of alcohol to drink by myself, but I’m pretty sure I could at least down a whole sushi platter.

Japan has 32 Costco warehouses. Here’s what I saw on my visit to the one in Kyoto.

The Costco warehouse is about an hour outside of downtown Kyoto, roughly midway between Kyoto and Osaka.

Richard Truong

There was a parking lot on top of the warehouse, and a special escalator that you could put your cart on.

Richard Truong

I showed the greeter my membership card, but since I have a foreign one that’s on the back of my Citi credit card, he definitely looked confused. I guess he’d never seen one of those before.

Richard Truong

Inside, the warehouse seems very familiar, the same Costco experience. What’s different are the individual products.

Richard Truong

I found shopping in Japan to be a more pleasant experience than in the US, since the US is more chaotic and Japanese people usually are more respectful and calmer.

Richard Truong

Clothing-wise, it was pretty similar. A lot of the clothing brands are also sold in the US, like Puma, Nike, and Adidas.

Richard Truong

There were plenty of US brands…

Richard Truong

… and some items came with reusable storage containers that I hadn’t seen in US stores before.

Richard Truong

Portion sizes actually were a lot smaller on individually packed items even though they’re sold in bulk.

Richard Truong

There was a pear, peach, and currant tart I’d never seen before.

Richard Truong

Costco called these “luxury” croissants for some reason.

Richard Truong

One big thing that I noticed was a lot of the meats were US meats.

Richard Truong

A lot of the meats were labeled as USDA Choice, which was interesting to see, considering Japan is the home of Wagyu beef.

Richard Truong

There was also a remarkable variety of seafood.

Richard Truong

Sushi is probably one of the things that most people look for in a Japan Costco, but surprisingly there were only two options: one was a smaller package of salmon and mackerel sushi….

Richard Truong

… and then there was a bigger, 48-piece sushi platter that was a pretty good deal

Richard Truong

It seemed like there were more party-sized pre-made foods instead of single-family pre-made foods.

Richard Truong

There were rotisserie chickens, of course…

Richard Truong

… plus options like charcoal-grilled chicken wings…

Richard Truong

… and garlic beef rice that smelled delicious.

Richard Truong

There’s also the alcohol section, which I never see back home in Pennsylvania.

Richard Truong

They gave me an alcoholic drink, which was a different experience because my local Costco doesn’t sell alcohol, so it’s kind of unfathomable to get a sample of alcohol.

Richard Truong

All the food samples were delicious, and I would consider buying the products if I actually lived there.

Richard Truong

I took a look at the fridges and a couple of appliances.

Richard Truong

A lot of them are a bit more narrow because a lot of Japanese houses are smaller, more apartment-style.

Richard Truong

It looks like the appliances are still well-equipped tech-wise too.

Richard Truong

They had a grill that’s used for Takoyaki, which is like a pancake ball that you put octopus inside. Very good.

Richard Truong

I noticed a Tiger rice cooker, a brand that I’ve seen in the US.

Richard Truong

Soaps and shampoos were in plastic refill bags that don’t take up a lot of space like other plastic containers.

Richard Truong

The Costco food court in Kyoto is way different from the US one. There are a lot more options in Japan.

Richard Truong

Shoppers were neatly putting their carts around the perimeter of the dining area, making a kind of barricade.

Richard Truong

The hotdog is still technically $1.50 if you convert Japanese yen to US dollars. You’ll also find the Costco staples that you’d see in the US, like pizza, coffee, ice cream, and smoothies.

Richard Truong

But in Kyoto they also have very different items, like the bulgogi bake instead of the chicken bake, a shrimp bisque, a roast beef sandwich, and falafel salad.

Richard Truong

The chicken nugget bucket was pretty popular, and it was pretty massive. There were like 30 chicken nuggets and a bunch of fries — definitely not a one-person kind of meal, but I tried it anyway.

Richard Truong

The shrimp bisque was very smooth, very rich. Definitely something I was surprised they sell because you don’t really see soup options at US Costcos. It was pretty amazing.

Richard Truong

And the smoothie was actually a bit different than the US. It was a little bit sweeter and more smooth.

Richard Truong

I definitely would come back if I was staying somewhere with my own kitchen and maybe a car to take stuff back.

Richard Truong

Read the original article on Business Insider
Avatar

Read more

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