THE JAPAN NEWS-YOMIURI – “One day, fried oysters could replace hot dogs as America’s favourite food,” oyster farmer Takashi Suzuki said with starry eyes.
The 45-year-old president of Farm Suzuki in the town of Osakikamijima, Hiroshima Prefecture, developed a deep fried oyster vending machine to promote the local specialty to the world.
The first vending machine was set up in January last year at Nagasakiya, a souvenir shop in Naka Ward, Hiroshima. Shoppers tap an LCD panel on the machine and pay with a credit card to receive a box of frozen deep-fried oysters.
The machine comes with a microwave so they can be eaten right on the spot. Reheating fried oysters is regarded as “taboo in the industry”, but Suzuki aims to challenge that view.
Suzuki has long wanted to create a way to sell oysters directly to consumers overseas, without going through middlemen.
“I couldn’t afford to open a restaurant, but I thought that maybe I could do it with a vending machine,” he recalled.
He began developing the machine four years ago. To try something no one else was doing, he deep-fried oysters and flash-froze them. They might not be quite at the level of freshly fried ones, but he said, “I’m sure there is a need to eat them more easily”.
This non-contact sales route happens to work well amid the pandemic. The machine accepts e-payments only, and Suzuki monitors the sales and stock remotely.
His second vending machine is in Tokyo, on floor B1 of the Toranomon Hills Business Tower in Minato Ward. Machines will be set up in Singapore and Hong Kong this year, and eventually in the United States and France, he hoped.