Service details: Otafuku x Medetai

Otafuku x Medetai is a closet-sized restaurant with few menu items. I was struck by the density of endearing service details packed into both the restaurant’s limited space, and the short amount of time needed to deliver an order.

The first touchpoint one encounters in the service journey is an understated one – the paucity of external signage exudes confidence. Otafuku’s trademark, the beaming visage of Okame, the goddess of mirth, is mounted to an oblong cut of wood.

This is in sharp contrast to stepping inside, where a customer’s senses are immersed in the service-delivery process as grill jockeys hustle behind an all-glass counter. Upbeat J-pop mingles with foot-tapping Gramatik and Nightmares on Wax, and the various shapes of grills designed to cook takoyaki (rows of hemispherical impressions to form perfect spheres) and taiyaki (miniature fish-shaped sockets) are on full display and constantly sizzling away, radiating the smells of frying batter.

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Custom-made signage cheekily imparts choking and allergy information, a detail that would be handled with a hastily hand-scrawled sign or generic sign at a less detail-oriented locale.

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Although the range of menu items is narrow, the range of possibilities within them is broad, and another intriguing service touch is involving customers in both experimentation and limited runs of an unusual flavor combination. For the shop’s devoted followers (and yes, a closet-sized taiyaki/takoyaki joint indeed has followers), the ten-minute wait for a food otherwise traditionally seen as “colloquial” and made to be served quickly is insignificant when compared to the chance to have one of the only 25 of a day’s edition of “berry choco” taiyaki. With scarcity and lengthier preparation time comes greater prestige in consumption.

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