Hooters for the Holidays!

“What Japanese food do you like? Sushi? Let’s go for sushi!”

“Hmmm, oka…”

“What Japanese food do you like? Shabushabu? Let’s go for Shabushabu!”

“Hmmm, oka…”

“What Japanese food do you like? Kishimen? Let’s go for Kishimen!”

“Hmmm, oka… Actually, no! I want something I recognise!”

If you’ve been in Japan for a while, this will be an all too familiar scenario. Of course you love Japanese food, it’s great, but sometimes you just want something that’s familiar, something that perhaps tastes of home. But where do you go in Nagoya to get it? Hooters, that’s where.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking ‘Ahhh, a western guy, recommending Hooters, I know what you’re missing from home’. But, while the Hooters Girls at Nagoya’s branch very much live up to the legend, that’s not the reason I’m recommending you head over to Fushimi to check it out. I’m recommending it for the kind of food that reminds me of home.

I first went to Hooters for NAGMAG back in May, just after it opened and, while I had the same preconceptions as you, I was surprised to find that it had a delightful, family atmosphere, an almost community feel, and I’m happy to report that this is still the case.

Between the Elephant’s Nest British Pub and the Fushimi branch of Hub, Hooters is a genuine taste of the good old US of A. And for you Americans out there, who in the light of recent events are feeling perhaps at odds with your fellow countrymen and women, this can only be a good thing, especially as the holiday season dawns upon us and we start thinking about home and happier times.

In fact, right now, Hooters is the perfect place at which we can get together, reach across the ideological divide and celebrate the upcoming occasions. Of course we are unlikely to find a traditional Christmas goose or turkey anywhere in the city, but in my opinion, the next best thing would be Hooters’ famous chicken wings.

On this visit I was lucky to catch the ever-cheerful restaurant manager Naoya with a free hour and he joined me for a course of the beautiful bird bits. Choosing from the 11 gauge spice-o-meter we went quite high up, the 911 (as you may know I love my spice, and it was perfect for me, though I was surprised to see Naoya – a seasoned wing eater – get quite a sweat on), and as we munched our way through all 24 of the succulent, spicy, pieces of chicken perfection, he told me about his plans for the upcoming festivities.

Throughout December and January there will be loads of different food and drink campaigns, the Rib Steak being one that Naoya couldn’t help but effervesce over. And as we talked I could see how Hooters – with space for up to 160 of your nearest and dearest friends or co-workers – would be a great place for parties to celebrate Christmas, ‘bonenkai’ or New Years, with plenty of time to enjoy their shot specials such as the Tequila Boom and the American Dream.

But Hooters isn’t just about party, party, party! Thanks to the aforementioned homey atmosphere, it’s also a fantastic place to just go and hang out, whether you are with just a couple of friends or even on your own. There are plenty of regulars who come in, often sitting in the bar area, watching sports, playing pool or gathering around the darts board, so it’s very much a social hub, somewhere at which you can make friends with people of other cultures, and perhaps even practice your Japanese with some interesting locals.

While you are there, Naoya recommends going for the Hooters burger, a burger which you can build yourself and you can chuck on all sorts of goodies such as cheese, onions, bacon, mushrooms and chilli, and as it comes with curly fries or onion rings, it’s a pretty good deal at just ¥1,480. I’d also recommend the Chilli and Cheese Nachos, which I had on my last visit. Truly excellent, and goes down really well with an ice-cold beer or one of their fantastic margaritas.

Okay, so let’s address the elephant in the room. Of course there are the Hooters girls, famous the world over for their, um, personalities, their friendliness, and their energetic dance routines, and over the Christmas period there will be some special festive dances to enjoy. But it’s not just the girls who are great fun. All the staff seem to be having a ball, including the management, who I saw getting up and strutting their stuff during the dance numbers. Naoya puts the fun atmosphere down to the way the place is run, with a great emphasis on enjoyment of the staff, breeding an enthusiasm that really is infectious.

In fact it seems like a great place to work, and Naoya told me that they are currently looking for staff, both in the kitchen and in front of house. So if you are looking for a fun new job in an English-speaking atmosphere with a wage higher than other restaurants in the city, you probably can’t do much better.

But even if you aren’t looking for work, it’s still an amazing taste of America that you are unlikely to find elsewhere in the city. So let’s forget about our party politics, and remember to just party. Get yourself down to Hooters, remember the good times with some friends, both old and new, and have a really great time in an atmosphere that reminds you ever so much of home.

If you do want to take up their seven course, two hour all-you-can drink party course for Christmas, bonenkai or New Year, I advise you book up quickly, as spaces are limited.

If you are interested in an opportunity to work with some of the most fun staff in Nagoya, give their head office a call at (03) 6279-0398 on weekdays or visit their recruiting website at:

www.hooters.co.jp/en/recruit/

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