As the city with some of the world’s longest working hours, where overtime is usually a given and lengthy commutes are often used to catch up on lost sleep, it can be pretty difficult to find the time and place to eat a well-balanced meal.
If you’re tired of konbini bento, can’t face another donburi or the idea of browsing the mysteries of your local Japanese grocery store doesn’t appeal to you, Maishoku’s food delivery service could be a game-changer; saving you time, energy and the trouble of finding a place to eat.
Maishoku is a fully bilingual online food delivery service that lets you order from more than 300 restaurants across Tokyo. You can browse the huge range of international cuisines via their website or mobile app; from Japanese bento to Korean fried chicken to Italian to wine (which I also count as a cuisine). Simply click on the food that you want, enter the exact day and time you’d like it delivered, select order and wait until the food arrives ready to eat.
The Maishoku service is available in both English and Japanese.
Up till now, the options in Tokyo for food delivery in English have been pretty limited. Apart from a few pizza chains and a handful of specialist (read: expensive) stores selling organic or country-specific foods, if you’re not comfortable ordering over the phone in Japanese from a Japanese menu there’s not a whole lot else out there.
But ordering food on Maishoku is super easy. Start by downloading their app, then enter your home or work address and a list of restaurants come up that will delivery to your area. It can even calculate roughly how long it will take to receive your food.
A great point is that you can order food in advance and select the specific time you want it to be delivered, even if the restaurant is closed at the time you order. If you know that you won’t want to cook on a Friday night, you can arrange for the food to arrive shortly after you get home. Or, if you’re planning an event you can set it up so the food comes before the guests do – this being Japan, the delivery service is guaranteed to be punctual.
Many of the restaurants offer ‘party plates’ for large groups of people – convenient for work meetings, company or dinner parties – and you can also get drinks, appetizers and dessert. Since all of the menus are fully translated into English by Maishoku, users can access a wide variety of restaurants that they might not otherwise know about.
‘Our online platform is specifically made to make ordering simple and fun, with a unified experience across all restaurants to encourage our customers to try new restaurants’, says Maishoku co-founder, Ola Nordqvist.
With Maishoku you can easily check out restaurants in your local area without worrying about not being able to read the menu or food requests getting lost in translation. It’s also useful if you’re feeling something specific like Indian or Mexican and you don’t want to go hunting halfway across the city for a restaurant.
‘Maishoku means “my meal” or it can also mean “every meal”’, says Ola. ‘We wanted to make a service that is user-friendly enough that it can be easily integrated into people’s daily lives. Many of our customers lead very busy lives and instead of buying unhealthy ready made meals from convenience stores or eating alone in a fast-food restaurant, they can order real food from real restaurants and enjoy it in the comfort of their own home.’
‘We’re also seeing more restaurants joining Maishoku who cater to companies for long business meetings, conferences and events,’ he added.
Companies can sign up to a special calendar system from which employees can add their lunch order. A different restaurant is chosen for each day and employees simply click on the link to order what they want from the menu of that day’s restaurant. By coordinating lunches in this way, businesses can increase the productivity of their workforce and provide them with a varied and cheap lunch throughout the week.
‘At lunchtime, many people often end up running out to the nearest konbini to grab something quick as they don’t have the time or money to go out for lunch or they weren’t able to prepare something the night before. Right now there are few restaurants that deliver single bento boxes direct to companies’, he says.
‘With Maishoku’s coordinated calendar system, companies can implement their own kind of virtual cafeteria at a much lower cost than having a real one, ensuring that staff stay productive, happy and healthy’, says Ola.
Maishoku has a free English and Japanese app for iPhone (and one for Android in development) that makes ordering food even easier. As with the website, you can pay with credit card or cash on delivery and they’ll email you the delivery confirmation and receipt.
Depending on the restaurant, there’s a minimum price for delivery so for now you can’t order one slice of tiramisu at 5am but as the service continues to grow and more restaurants join the Maishoku community, the future is full of possibilities:
‘We have a lot of other exciting features planned. As foodies ourselves we know how challenging it can be to find new restaurants. Our goal was to build a service that makes it easy to discover new food.’