If you’re looking to hold a party in 2052 and would like to serve what the Mirror says are “arguably the most famous croquettes in the world,” you’d better order now. That’s because there’s a 30-year-plus waiting list for the “Extreme” Kobe beef croquettes from Japan’s Asahiya family-run butcher shop, which is located in Hyogo prefecture. CNN reports that Asahiya has been in business for nearly a century; after World War II, the deep-fried potato and beef delicacy popped up on the butcher’s menu.
But the croquettes didn’t take off until 2000, a year or so after Shigeru Nitta, the third-generation owner of the butcher, decided to sell the croquettes for $1.80 each—though the beef alone to make one cost $2.70 at the time. A newspaper article about the croquettes, which are made fresh every day using locally sourced beef and potatoes, brought them instant fame. People started placing their orders (domestic only) online, and the croquettes became so popular that Asahiya stopped making them in 2016 because the waiting list had become more than 14 years long. But the public clamored for their return, and Asahiya agreed, bringing them back the following year, but with a new price of $3.70 per croquette (a box of five costs $18.40 or so).
Despite the price hike, Nitta continued to take a loss on the croquettes, as the price of beef had also risen substantially. So why would he agree to keep taking such a financial hit? Nitta explains to CNN that once people get a taste of the croquettes, they decide they want to order more of the delicious Kobe beef via other menu samplings; Nitta estimates that about half of his croquette tasters end up doing so. Asahiya is now churning out 200 croquettes a day—the output used to be 200 per week—and folks wait patiently for them. One woman tells the Mirror she put in her order in 2013 and just recently received her box. In the interim, she’s been married twice and moved to Tokyo, and so she’s grateful the croquettes still managed to get to her. (Read more food stories.)