A popular restaurant in Tokyo, Japan, sparked controversy for claiming to dip its delicious pork skewers in a sauce jar that has not been cleaned in over half a century.
Abe-chan, a famous pork skewer eatery in Tokyo’s Azabu Juban shopping district, was recently featured on a popular Japanese television show where it was revealed that one of the secrets to its success was a rather dubious-looking jar covered in a gelatinous mass. Apparently, this was the same sauce jar that pork skewers have been dipped in for the last sixty years, and the dark brown mass around the jar is the sauce that spilled over and hardened over the decades. According to the third-generation owner of Abe-chan, the jar has never been cleaned in the last six decades, which apparently contributes to the rich taste of the sauce.
Instead of cleaning the sauce jar every day, after closing, the staff at Abe-chan simply pours more sauce over the leftovers of the day, which only amplifies its aroma. The congealed mass around the earthen pot of sauce isn’t the most appetizing sight when ordering street food, but for the owners of Abe-chan it is a valuable treasure put on display right next to the charcoal grill.
Abe-chan was reportedly founded in 1933 by the grandfather of the current owner, and the sauce jar has been around since those early days. The tradition of adding to the sauce without actually cleaning the container has been respected by all three generations, and the current owner is convinced that it contributed to the success of the family business.