B-Class Gourmets are willing to travel great distances and stand in long lines for a restaurant that may cost around 1000 yen for a meal ($13 USD).
Good BusinessIt's a restaurant's dream. A ramen shop in a quiet neighborhood gets a stellar review in a magazine, popular blog or TV show. Suddenly there's a line out front day and night.
If the good reviews keep pouring in the restaurant will stay busy. A select few will become B-Class legends that remain trendy for decades. If the good reviews fade away — the restaurant will quickly become passé and return to its former customer base.
Restaurants are big business in Japan — a multi-trillion yen industry that's ultra competitive. Every cheap restaurant in Japan wants to be the next B-Class Gourmet sensation.
TourismJapanese people like to travel. Japan's domestic travel industry is gigantic — directly employing 1.5 million people.
Japanese people travel within Japan for 5 reasons: family, onsen, food, events and attractions.
Domestic travel booms are often sparked by a sudden national interest in the B-Class restaurants of a particular Japanese city or region. For example, in the 1990s media attention led to a national craze for Motsunabe (a stew made of beef and pork organ meats). Fukuoka (where Motsunabe is a local specialty) enjoyed a prolonged travel boom as a result.
B-Class FavoritesVirtually any type of Japanese food can attract hardcore fans.
The most prevalent B-Class Gourmet food is ramen. People are passionate about ramen.
In Japan, ramen restaurants often make their own noodles and soup base. To a ramen connoisseur, there's a vast difference between good ramen and great ramen. Fine ramen is a rare thing that's worth a wait.
CriticismForeign tourists in Japan often remark that Japanese people seem to enjoy waiting in line. It's common to see a ramen restaurant with a line of 20 people while the ramen shop next door is empty. From a tourist's perspective this may appear to be mindless trendiness.
Locals will argue that if you truly appreciate B-Class foods such as ramen then you'll know that a superior restaurant is worth the wait.