[From December Issue 2012]
Canned food bars are becoming popular. Up until now canned food has been thought of as simply a preserved food or just another ingredient, but in these bars it is the main attraction. Because it’s so practical, canned food is often used in the home, and many recipes utilizing canned food have been published. Canned food is particularly trending right now in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake, because it can be stored for long periods, making it useful thing to have around during a disaster.
Mr. Kanso is a well-known chain of canned food bars. Launched in 2002, it now has 19 establishments all over the country – mainly in the Kansai region – and that number is expected to increase to around 50 within two years. The stylish interior and excellent atmosphere means that it’s popular with fashionable young people.
KAWABATA Yoshihito, who was president of Mr. Kanso in the early days and is now the chairman, used to be involved in managing fine art facilities and organizing art projects. He started his canned bar when he was asked to put a vacant lot to good use by opening up an eatery there. He was inspired by the excellent designs of some can labels and the delicious taste of some canned foods. An art school graduate, he drew on his artistic talent and sensibilities to give canned food an image change. The cans lining the shelves make for an eye-catching décor.
His bars stock between 250 to 300 types of canned food. The price is indicated by a colored sticker on the bottom of a can and you’re free to choose a can that appeals to you from the shelves. Rather than being served on a plate, the food is served straight from the can. The most popular can is the bar’s own brand product, “Dashimaki-kan.” It’s popular because people are amazed that a fluffy omelet can come out of a can and even taste like it was made by a professional. Rare canned foods, like sea lion yamatoni (cooked with sugar, soy sauce and ginger), seal curry and grasshopper, are also stocked.
KAWABATA Michio, who’s in charge of publicity, says, “I think the charm of canned foods lies in the excitement you feel as you open it yourself and in the fact that you get to eat something delicious immediately. We have some own-brand products, too. To satisfy our customers, I’d like to continue offering new canned foods that no one has heard of.”
Popular with railway fans, “Kiha” in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, is a bar that serves kappu zake (sake served in a glass jar) and canned food. Its walls are decorated with items such as model railways and train maps. Seats are modeled on those found in train carriages, so you feel just as if you were travelling in a train. At Kiha you can enjoy the sensation of setting off on a journey and the bar is popular with people who are too busy to travel themselves.
The price of a can starts from 300 yen and popular staples are roast chicken and mackerel. There are also some cooked dishes on the menu too, such as the “corn butter” made with a can of sweet corn and the “oiled sardine cheese yaki,” which is sardines in oil from a can grilled with cheese. FUTAKAMI Noboru, the owner, says, “Thanks to improvements in food processing technology and in the quality of ingredients, there are more and more really good canned foods out there these days.”
Businessman, TANAKA Kosuke, often stops by canned food bars after work. He says, “Canned food bars are good in that everyone can choose whatever he wants whether he’s by himself, or with friends.”
Text: MUKAI Natsuko