First stop on my inaugural Tokyo wing hunt was Hooters in Shibuya. My prior experience at Hooters in Tokyo was when I was interning at the British Embassy. It was very much an unpaid internship but with a fairly generous lunch allowance of ¥2000 per day. With a craving for Buffalo wings I borrowed an embassy bike and cycled down to the Akasaka hooters near to the Prime Minister’s official residence. Every 15 minutes the wait staff would perform a surreal synchronised dance with tables of salarymen politely clapping along. 40 minutes later I was submitting a receipt to the Embassy for a “Hooters Naked Platter” – naked because they are not breaded - a distinction my manager was less sure about, triggering a minor intra-embassy incident.
The Shibuya Hooters is a huge cavernous space bathed in orange light. I always forget how terrifiyingly skimpy the wait staff’s outfits are. They really don’t leave much to the imagination. I had been expecting to share the restaurant with tables of braying Trumpland swampfolk but found the place empty save for a table of Northern European headbangers, some salarymen quietly enjoying glasses of the Hooters house red, and two middle schoolgirls making their way through a vast portion of ribs.
The disparity in spice tolerance amongst human beings leads to dangerously inconsistent heat scales at restaurants. One crudely drawn picture of a chilli pepper can be the difference between a disappointing meal and a day ruined by weapons-grade Nashville fried chicken. My brother and I have therefore developed the “Beverly rule”, developed in the wake of a too-mild Korean hotpot at Beverly Soondofu in LA’s Koreatown. If you’re deciding between hot and very hot, ALWAYS take the hotter options, and ignore the protestations and warnings of the staff. Haruka, our Hooters waitress was squeezed into an orange and white polyester sausage casing and was quite insistent . Stupidly we assented to a plate of “hot”.
The wings had a good crisp to them, but the meat was very dry – clearly they had come out of the freezer. The sauce was a regulation Buffalo sauce but lacked tang. The blue cheese dip was a nice surprise, with big chunks of cheese swirling around the pot. One bugbear of mine, and an issue across all Hooters locations it seems, is their failure to remove the wing tip from the flat portion of the wing. Instead of being able to pull all the tender wing meat off the flat in one action I had to nibble around these sinister appendages. In spite of this prep-related failure we’ll give Hooters a solid 5/10.