Thursday, August 22, 2013

Gusto American Faire Hamburg Steak

Back in May, I wrote about the confusing TV ad for the Gusto family restaurant chain promoting their "American Faire" campaign. In the ad, a group of so-called Texans are asked their opinions of Gusto's Texas hamburger steak, and the reactions are uniformly negative. The ad then says that the meals are aimed at Japanese tastes, and it wraps up with TV talent Dave Specter yelling out "Umai. Chou Umai" (Delicious. Extremely delicious). Well, there's a Gusto restaurant 2 blocks from my apartment, and I wanted to know just how bad these dishes are. I don't know if it was relevant that the waitress handed me the bento box menu instead, or that no one in the place was eating the hamburger steaks (hamburg steak) for lunch. I picked the cheapest one - hamburg steak with egg on top, a basil sausage, corn, bacon and small baked potato for 699 yen ($7 USD). The waitress brought me a plate of rice by mistake, and took it back a few seconds later. I got the all-you-can drink drink bar for an extra $2

The "bacon" was at least 70% fat. The "sausage" might have been made with fish paste. The egg was unseasoned, and the hamburg steak was the same kind of thing you can find anywhere in Japan, with a semi-sweet teriyaki sauce glaze. Overall, this is a typical family restaurant chain meal, and the only "American" thing about it is the word in the name (not sure if they were using American beef or not). It wasn't especially "Japanese" either. A week later, Gusto changed to a new campaign. I'm betting they were just looking for the small sales bump that occurs when the Japanese are exposed to something new, rather than predictable profit growth from a successful product launch. Not sure if the "bump" was big enough to pay for their ad campaign with Dave Specter, though.

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