By JUN NAGATA
Rafu Staff Writer
To celebrate Hideki Matsui’s debut with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on April 5, the Matsui udon restaurant in Torrance gave a 55 percent discount on selected items, to correspond with the slugger’s uniform number. Hideki Mastui is the first Japanese outfielder to play for the Angels, after being traded traded from the New York Yankees last December.
The owner of Matsui, as well as the Sushi Boy chain, is Tochigi native Masayoshi Yokota, a huge long-time fan of Japanese baseball, especially the Yomiuri Giants. When Yokota took over the restaurant four years ago, he decided to change the name of the shop to “Matsui” even though Hideki Matsui, who was nicknamed “Godzilla” when he played for the Giants, was playing for the New York Yankees at that time.
When Yokota heard the news that the slugger was coming to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last year, Yokota reduced the prices on alcoholic beverages 55 percent for one month to show his support to Matsui.
Not only that, Yokota was ready to “pitch” other new ideas in cheering for Matsui.
For example, Yokota created a huge shrimp bowl called the “Godzilla Bowl” which has seven large tempura shrimp standing up in an “A” shape like the team logo. The Godzilla Bowl is priced at $12.25 but will be discounted to $5.50 the day following any game in which Hideki Matsui hits a home run.
Yokota is also offering 30 percent off selected menu items through April.
On days the Angels outfielder/designated hitter plays in a home game, the servers and staff wear red caps and baseball uniforms, with Matsui’s number 55. The inside of the restaurant is decorated with autographs and team flags and is considering displaying a collection of Matsui-related items in the corner of the restaurant.
In addition, a group of fans is organizing a “Matsui Fan Bus Tour” for the Saturday, May 29 game versus the Seattle Mariners. The bus is scheduled to depart from the restaurant, and the participants will be able to purchase a special bento box that contains yakiniku, sushi and other favorite items of Hideki Matsui. The rice used will be from his home prefecture of Ishikawa. Anyone interested in joining the tour should call the restaurant for information.
Yokota said that cheering for Matsui and showing his respect for him is not part of his marketing strategy. Simply, Yokota loves Matsui and wishes to create a community who support Matsui.
“By cheering for Matsui, everybody will feel good about themselves,” he said. “We are uplifted. For the future, I want Matsui to be careful not to injure his knee and hope that he leads the team to the World Series.”
Matsui udon restaurant is located at 21605 S. Western Ave. in Torrance. Call (310) 320-2089 for hours.
Translated by Ryoko Ohnishi. To read this story in Japanese, click here.