18th December, 2020
Let’s face it, Christmas this year is going to be a little different for everyone, but in Japan they have been doing things a little differently since the 1970’s where a curious festive tradition has taken hold.
Many Japanese people acknowledge Christmas, but don’t necessarily celebrate with the same gusto as westerners, while some treat it as a romantic holiday similar to Valentine’s Day, marking the occasion with upscale dinners. Yet did you know that an estimated 3.6m choose to visit KFC to mark the big day, often resulting in large queues and 3-4 hour-long waits on the 25th December?
A nationwide tradition with its genesis at Japan’s very first KFC, owned by businessman Takeshi Okawara, it is said that Okawara created a novelty ‘Party Barrel’ of fried chicken as a way to celebrate Christmas and, in the autumn of 1970, set about furiously marketing it to his customers, with rapid uptake.
It took just four years for KFC Japan to take the Party Barrel or Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii, translated as ’Kentucky for Christmas’ nationwide. The innovative marketing campaign proved such a roaring success that Takeshi Okawara was propelled to KFC CEO just a decade later, a position he held for 18 years.
In tribute to this extraordinary custom, and to help our friends and followers discover more Japanese food traditions this festive season, we have tasked our talented development chef Ron Laity to come up with three special dishes – Mizkan Fried Chicken (MFC), our take on a delicious izakaya and bento box favourite chicken karaage – a traditional mix of sake and ginger, with a touch of Honteri for sweetness, miso for piquancy and buttermilk for moisture retention – an incredible Strawberry Christmas shortcake, made to a traditional recipe, and a sweet and fluffy Christmas eve treat, a spiced Gingerbread man. Take a look here!
Japanese-style fried chicken with a succulent interior and a crisp golden buttermilk coating, seasoned with miso, Honteri and ginger.
A true Christmas showstopper made with layers of delicate sponge filled with whipped cream and fresh strawberries – a Japanese favourite.
Two innovators, two locations, one goal; inspire creativity! We recently invited one of the UK’s most exciting bartenders to be part of our new web series, Chefs in Conversation, where we challenged him to create some festive cocktails using Honteri
3 essential Japanese ingredients for any Asian recipe.
The 1st of November is Vinegar Day! We would like to take this opportunity to share our knowledge of Japanese vinegars from rice and sake vinegar to spirit vinegar. Each vinegar has its own distinctive taste which will enhance the flavour of a dish in a different way.