Michigan Based Big Boy Restaurant is Bizarrely Popular in Japan
It's a right of passage for anyone who grew up in Michigan, meals as the local Big Boy restaurant, greeted by the familiar hamburger-toting namesake Big Boy as you walk in. But would you be surprised to know that the Big Boy chain is more popular in Japan than in the United States?
Believe it or not, there are 274 Big Boy restaurants in Japan compared to just 74 locations in the United States. The vast majority of American Big Boys are in Michigan, with 66. 5 Big Boys are found in California, 2 in Ohio and 1 in North Dakota.
The Michigan Big Boys you are most familiar with are part of a chain headquartered in the suburban Detroit city of Warren. The Japan-based Big Boy offers a completely different menu, so don't expect the comforts of home should you ever visit one.
So what exactly does Big Boy Japan look like? From this video review, it feels like a Ponderosa. Big salad bar and drink bar and a menu that feels somewhat like what you'd find stateside, but a definitely Japanese flair.
The UK-based FoodieExploer describes their visit to a Big Boy in Japan:
Big Boy is an American chain but they actually have more outlets in Japan. It’s like a mix of American diner and the Little Chef. Booths and retro eighties styling all the way here....
Meal deals include unlimited drinks and trips to the salad bar where you’ll find rice and soups (including the ever-popular sweetcorn chowder)....
The speciality at Big Boy is the Hamburg, not a hamburger nor a steak but somewhere in-between – it’s a partially cooked slab of meat that’s been formed into a baked potato shape.
"Partially cooked slab of meat," you say? See, it's a little different over there.
While we Michiganders like to claim the Big Boy chain, the original was founded in California. There are only 5 locations of this particular chain, Bob's Big Boy, left in existence. Here's a trip to the original.
Michigan can claim another Big Boy oddity - the Big Boy Graveyard in the Upper Peninsula where old Boy Boy mascots are 'retired.'
There is nothing quite like that original Big Boy hamburger and its special sauce. Ever want to recreate restaurant tastes at home? Try some of these copycat recipes.