All About Japan

The Lockup Is Back with Eerie Winter Dishes

Food & Drink Restaurants Weird Japan Tokyo Shinjuku

The Lockup, a chain of restaurants in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya that puts its customers in prison-like rooms, shut down many of its eateries due to Covid-19. However, the Tokyo Kabukicho location reopened on July 1. Since then, they’ve been working hard on some special new dishes for the winter season. Put on your handcuffs and let's take a look.

First up is the Striking Hotpot (hae-nabe), named because it has a big skull floating in the middle which is actually made with a soy milk soup that gradually melts into the broth. The creamy broth complements the heaps of pork and Chinese cabbage inside as well as other seasonal vegetables and mushrooms. Normally hotpots are communally eaten, but for obvious COVID-related reasons, this has been adapted to a single serving for 1,280 yen (US$12.30).

However, if meat is more your bag, then you may want to opt for the Witch Nabe (majo-nabe) which has a devil’s hand made of chicken grasping at the rim and skewered with various weaponry. Inside are some pieces of bacon and other hearty vegetables. This is also a single portion and sells for 980 yen (US$9.42).

By now you’re probably thinking, "Well, that’s not very Christmassy," to which The Lockup might reply, "How dare you talk back! You have been sentenced to eat a bucket of coal!"

On the bright side, this bucket of coal is actually fried chicken colored black, and it’s all-you-can-eat for 60 minutes for just 500 yen (US$4.81). It also comes with red and green dipping sauces, because it’s easy to forget the holidays while in this place. Really though, the beauty of The Lockup is that all diners are confined to their own cells, which is great for social distancing. Shackles have also been lengthened to the recommended six feet.

Each cell is regularly disinfected, orders are taken with a sterilized touchpad rather than verbally, and even the monsters are taking all the necessary precautions. So stop by and do some time here if the opportunity arises and enjoy some off-the-beaten-path holiday festivities. Their food is probably better than a real prison too, and in Japan, that’s actually saying a lot.

Related stories:

Tokyo’s biggest ramen secret? This restaurant just might be the next Michelin star winner
We spend Culture Day in prison, food was arguably better than Yoshinoya
Dumplings that’ll make you pretty! “Gyoza for girls” is the new food trend hitting Japan!
Late-night all-you-can-eat yakiniku for only 980 yen? Yes, please!