October 29, 2020

VOX POPULI: Good and cheap Chinese eatery in Ginza falls victim to virus crisis : The Asahi Shimbun

Four factors–quick, cheap, tasty and plentiful–define an ideal dish for me, a person with a big appetite.

This type of fare was typically served at Ranshu, a small Chinese restaurant in Tokyo’s Higashi-Ginza district.

I frequently dropped by the eatery, located close to my workplace, and also used its delivery service.

The restaurant has also been a favorite among actors performing at the nearby Kabukiza Theater and Shinbashi Enbujo theater.

But it closed its doors on Sept. 19 after 40 years in business, unable to hold its own against the onslaught of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

When I visited the place on its final day, I found a line of patrons eager to enjoy their beloved dishes one last time.

Owner Naoshi Tomizawa, 70, said the restaurant’s sales began plunging around the time a nationwide state of emergency was declared this spring.

“We rode out many crises before, but this corona thing turned out to be fatal,” he added. “I feel so sad.”

Restaurants are experiencing unprecedented hardships around the nation, and indeed across the world.

Many readers may have been shocked by news that their regular eating places have gone out of business.

I cannot forget the words on social media left by the owner of a restaurant that shut down: “If your favorite place is still in business, visit it ‘now.’”

It was a full-throated appeal driven by the owner’s painful experience of being forced out of business.

We ourselves have refrained from eating out to prevent getting infected with the coronavirus. Still, support from customers alone cannot save embattled restaurants from the ravages of the pandemic.

I wonder if the situation is demanding an unprecedented type of public bulwark to protect vulnerable restaurants.

“We have been able to hang in here until today thanks to the power of customers’ encouragement and smiles. We would be very happy if you remember Ranshu sometime in the future.”

This notice of business closure put up at the restaurant made no reference to the novel coronavirus or the lack of government support.

My stomach is already yearning for many dishes at Ranshu–gyoza dumplings, “tanmen” noodles and “niku nira tama don,” which is a bowl of rice topped with meat, nira (Chinese chives) and eggs cooked together.

–The Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 20

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.

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