STUCK in the middle of bustling Tokyo is a small slice of Aussie beachside culture, offering a unique location to showcase the quality and consistency of Australian beef and lamb to Japanese consumers and trade contacts.
The Aussie Beef Clubhouse at Toyosu BBQ Beach was originally created as part of the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, but when international visits were suspended due to COVID, the locals embraced the unique setting with a vengeance.
The waterfront facility is designed to capture the atmosphere of a rustic Aussie beachside bar and outdoor BBQ restaurant, complete with an artificial beach using sand imported from Western Australia, used for beach volleyball and sun-lounging, when the weather allows.
The Australian Wagyu Association’s 2022 Japan Wagyu Tour group paid a visit while in Tokyo last week.
Meat & Livestock Australia originally struck a partnership deal to co-promote Aussie beef and lamb through the venue for the period of the Olympics, but the arrangement has been so successful it has now been extended indefinitely. The True Aussie Beef logo features prominently throughout the relaxed, laid-back venue.
The operators behind Aussie Beef Clubhouse have a series of 50 similar locations scattered across Japan. Not all are as large as the massive Tokyo venue, but together they add up to a large and successful food service restaurant business. Almost all of them use Aussie beef and lamb.
In Japan, Aussie beef is promoted as ‘genki’, with connotations of health and vitality, and the Aussie Beef Clubhouse fits perfectly with that image.
Australians taking part in this month’s AWA Japan Wagyu tour enjoyed a lunch and a few cold Sapporo beers at the Aussie Beef Clubhouse during their Tokyo visit. The beef samples thrown on the grills ranged from certified grassfed to shortfed and longfed Australian steaks.
MLA Japan Regional Manager Scott Walker told Beef Central the Aussie Beef Clubhouse was a place for the Japanese consumer to come and enjoy Aussie beef in a relaxed environment reminiscent of Australia. It was particularly popular with younger Japanese. ‘It’s a little slice of Australia,” he said.
Some 80,000 Japanese consumers went through the venue in the first four months during the travel-restricted Olympics period. Another 173,000 customers have enjoyed the facility since the Games finished, with the Aussie Wagyu tour group among the first overseas visitors to return as travel restrictions ease.
“The company behind the Beach Club was originally using US beef, but we were able to convert them, and their 50 other similar restaurants to Aussie product. It’s been an incredible partnership, and a really worthwhile activity,” Mr Walker said.
During the visit, the tour group had the chance to interact with some of the MLA Japan senior staff, including Kitano-san or ‘SK’ (separate story to come), retail expert Takanobu Nakayama-san, foodservice and lamb expert Kazunori Mitsuhashi-san and brand marketing manager Miho Hanami-san.
Also present from the Australian Embassy were Charge de’Affaires Peter Roberts, Australian Trade Commissioner Murray Spence and Councillor (Agriculture) Tom Parnell, with Japanese celebrity chef and ‘Lambassador’, Koji-san, manning the BBQ. More on the MLA Lambassador program in a later story.