Like so many things—cell phones, Kit Kats, convenience stores—KFC was invented in America and perfected in Asia. Here in America, the domain of the Colonel is just one of many chains that try to outdo one another with different ways of serving fried chicken. But in Asia, KFC is a true institution, the biggest and most beloved of all the American fast food chains (yes, even besting McDonald’s). And it does not take that responsibility lightly. It has expanded its menu and adapted its recipes to appeal to Asian customers: congee and custard tarts in China, vegetarian bowls in India, spaghetti in the Philippines, more dark meat and rice everywhere.
In Japan, KFC has assumed a particularly important role: It’s the place Japanese families go for their Christmas meal. Since Christianity never really caught on in Japan, Christmas is more of a secular holiday there; think of this as the Japanese version of Jewish Christmas (Chinese food and a movie). This (naturally) started as a marketing scheme in 1974—“Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii,” which translates as “Kentucky for Christmas”—but it grew into a genuine tradition. Even if it may have been based on a lie.
So perhaps it’s not surprising that now, at this most wonderful time of the year, KFC has opened an all-you-can-eat-and-drink buffet restaurant in Tokyo. For about $18 for lunch and $23.75 for dinner, diners have their choice of roughly 50 items for 90 minutes; unlimited booze is an extra $12. Japan Today reports that the menu includes chicken, biscuits, and potatoes. “Restaurant-exclusive original menu items such as ‘Special Fried Chicken Soup Curry,’ rotisserie chicken, and a pan-baked potato casserole are also offered.”
A KFC buffet opened in Osaka last year, but the Tokyo one outstrips it because of the all-you-can-drink option. Merīkurisumasu, everybody!