This place is loaded with food, and you will be too.
Last year a new kind of restaurant appeared in Tokyo’s Akihabara neighborhood called Chin! Suru Restaurant, where “Chin!” is the sound of a timer ringing in Japanese, and “chin suru” is a causal term for heating something up in a microwave.
So it’s easy to see that Chin! Suru Restaurant is all about whipping things up in a microwave. For 2,000 yen (US$14) you can do what’s essentially a supermarket sweep of a freezer section and scarf down as much frozen food and ice cream as you want in 90 minutes.
Unfortunately, the Akihabara Chin! Suru Restaurant was only open for a limited time, but now it’s back and bigger than ever in Osaka, so I went to check it out.
Chin! Suru Restaurant Osaka is located about a four-minute walk from Nakatsu Station, very close to the downtown hub of Umeda. Unlike the Akihabara location which was in a shopping center, this restaurant is under some elevated train tracks in a spot that kind of looks like a place where The Warriors and Turnbull ACs might have a rumble.
But don’t let appearances fool you because inside wait some real treasures that you don’t want to miss. Clearly, this location was chosen for the sheer space it provides. Since the Akihabara location drew up to 8,000 people in a single day, the operators wanted to accommodate the potential crowds and made an even more spacious dining area that seats 85 people at a time.
The extra space also allows for a very roomy microwave section stocked with the latest in Sharp microwaves.
There’s even a Specialty Menu counter which highlights one of the foods on offer at Chin! Suru Restaurant. When I went Ajinomoto’s frozen gyoza was in the spotlight.
Along one wall is a battery of freezers fully stocked with pretty much every frozen food imaginable. But there was one thing in particular that immediately jumped out at me.
▼ “Oh my god!”
Of course, I’ve seen these little cups of Häagen Dazs everywhere before but it was always next to a rather exorbitant price tag that prevented me from enjoying it. But now, Chocolate Duo, Cookies & Cream, Matcha, Macademia Nut, Strawberry… It’s all here, and it’s all I can eat!
Eating ice-cream non-stop for 90 minutes is a little much though, no matter how good it is. Luckily, variety is the name of the game at this restaurant. Let’s peruse the freezers together, shall we?
Next to the Ice Cream case was one dedicated to frozen Fruits & Vegetables with frozen peaches, grapes, and mango as well as some edamame.
Then we have three cases of Breakfast & Snack foods. This is a pretty eclectic mix of items including bagels, donuts, pizza, curry & naan, fries, and nikuman steamed buns.
After that is a case of frozen Doria & Gratin dishes and two cases with Takoyaki & Okonomiyaki foods that Osaka is famous for but also widely available across Japan in frozen form.
Then we have a case of Meal Side Dishes and a case of Bento Side Dishes. I don’t really know how they distinguish those two but they’re both full of foods like gratin and fried chicken, just in smaller portions. And speak of the devil, right next to that is the Karaage fried chicken freezer. After that there are some cases of Chinese Cuisine like spring rolls, shumai dumplings, and gyoza.
And the reason Ramen is missing from the Chinese section is that it has two freezers all to itself! All your favorites are there from tonkotsu, soy sauce, tantanmen, tori paitan, and more. After that are a pair of cases for No Soup Noodles which hold items like sara-udon, yakisoba, tsukemen, and more.
Beyond that a whopping six freezers are dedicated to Pasta dishes. These cases essentially have an array of sauces like carbonara and pescatore.
It would have been great to find a nice lasagna or some ravioli here too, but this is Japan and those types of pasta are all but unheard of in frozen form for some reason.
And at the very end were two freezers with Rice based foods such as fried rice, kimbap, rice burgers, and grilled onigiri.
All in all there are some 150 types of frozen foods that can be zapped and eaten right away. And by the way, that Ice Cream freezer we saw before was pretty much just dedicated to Häagen Dazs. There are several other freezers cases with most other brands of ice cream and ice candy.
It wasn’t clear if these supermarket size boxes of frozen snacks were meant to be claimed whole or torn into so you can just take what you want. But the whole time I was there, I got a really laid-back vibe from Chin! Suru Restaurant so either way is probably fine as long as you don’t waste food.
They even had some limited edition Pokémon Garigari-kun ice candies.
Since this was the grand opening of Chin! Suru Restaurant Osaka, many of the prominent figures were there giving speeches and talking to the media. During the talks, the issue of leftovers came up which would seem to be a likely problem in this format. The policy is that if the food is over half-eaten then the remainder can be taken home as long as the customer isn’t abusing the system.
▼ Pictured clockwise starting top-left: Tatsuya Imaji, Yuichi Matsumoto, and Akio Fuchinoe of Chin! Suru Restaurant operator Nippon Access, Shinichi Nozaki of Häagen Dazs Japan, Koji Kanayama of Ajinomoto, Yasuhito Nagata of Sharp, CEO of Nippon Access Masaya Hattori, and frozen food journalist Junko Yamamoto
After the ceremony was over I was able to try some chin suru-ing of my own. Ever since skimming through the freezers earlier, these little Funwari Okonomiyaki pucks with octopus and squid have been calling out to me so I grabbed them. I’d never seen these before but they looked really good.
I then took it to the microwave section. Each item has its own cooking method so you’ll have to read the instructions on the package. It usually just boils down to the number of items and number of minutes though, so anyone with even a basic comprehension of Japanese ought to be able to pull it off. Failing that, there’s lots of staff on-hand to help.
▼ It probably helps to have an attention span too. I just noticed the part about cracking the lid open a bit while looking at this photo now…
▼ Huh, it’s also written there on the cups… Eh, whatever, it turned out fine in the end.
The microwave is another challenge. I’m an old-fashioned guy who likes his coffee black and microwaves controlled by punching in some numbers and pressing start. These things were rather state-of-the-art though and I felt like I was disarming one of those Predator wrist bombs.
▼ “What the hell is ‘Healshio warming deliciousness restoration?'”
Luckily, I found the manual override and got to work.
Like Tom Petty said, the waiting is the hardest part. Luckily there are some Sharp product demos to read and watch to kill three minutes or so.
After my food had its deliciousness restored, I of course grabbed a cup of Häagen Dazs and started to eat.
Hearing “microwaved okonomiyaki pucks” probably doesn’t sound appetizing, but these things were exceptionally good. Despite being frozen, they tasted surprisingly fresh and had a natural texture or creamy batter and crispy cabbage like they were properly cooked.
The ice cream really needs no explanation. It’d been ages since I ate Häagen Dazs, mostly because I could never justify paying that much for it to myself. It was everything I remembered.
▼ Get a load of me! I’m a regular J.D. Rockefeller over here.
Because of time constraints that was all I could eat, but to get a sense of the full Chin! Suru Restaurant experience, just take my example and multiply it by 15 or so.
If I had one complaint about this restaurant, it’s that the variety of frozen fries and pizzas was somewhat lacking.
▼ You can get fries in crinkle, Anpanman, or Rilakuma shapes only.
The other issue might be that drinks are sold separately, though I suppose you could hack that by just getting some ice cream or ice candy and letting it melt into a cup.
Otherwise, Chin! Suru Restaurant is a really great way to dine out in a big way and absolutely worth checking out while it’s in Osaka from 16 June to 2 July.
▼ According to the ticket machine out front, craft beer, canned beer, canned chu-hi, and sake are the alcoholic drinks offered, with prices ranging from 200 to 500 yen.
Just remember that despite being about five times larger than the Akihabara venue, there’s a good chance it’ll fill up fast. The 90-minute all-you-can-eat sessions are divided into five blocks throughout the day and you have to make a reservation 20 minutes before a block. For example, if you want to eat in the 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. block, you can’t make a reservation until 10:40 a.m. that same day. And given the popularity this place had in Akihabara, you should probably line up well before 10:40 a.m. to secure a spot.
If you can do that, then prepare yourself to gorge on all the pasta, takoyaki, fried rice, pancakes, and ice cream that your heart desires and stomach can handle.
Chin! Suru Restaurant in Osaka / チン！するレストランin大阪
Osaka-fu, Osaka-shi, Kita-ku, Nakatsu 1-1-36
Hours: 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. / 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. / 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. / 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. / 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Open: 16 June – 2 July, 2023