You Might Be Surprised At How Costco Japan's Food Court Compares To The US

In a world of constantly-increasing food prices, Costco's food courts are gold mines for cheap, yummy eats in the U.S. The company's CEO famously commented that it wouldn't be raising the price of its $1.50 hot dog and refillable 20-ounce soda combo, which has remained the same since 1985. If you venture outside the country, you'll find all kinds of gems in Costco locations across the globe — like glorious fried chicken buckets in Taiwan. But if you head to Japan, you may be surprised to learn that its food courts aren't too different from the ones in the U.S. 

Whereas you can find massive pizza slices or single-flavor ice cream cups for only $1.99, whole pizzas with 12 slices for $9.95, ice cream sundaes for $2.49, and smoothies for $2.99 in U.S. locations, if you travel across the world to Japan you'll find a quarter-pound hot dog plus soda (which comes with free refills) for ¥180 (about $1.14), a slice of pizza for ¥350 ($2.22), and a whole pizza for ¥1880 ($11.91). You'll also see similar ice cream and sundae options. Plus, while the U.S. menus offer different smoothie flavors from Japan's (strawberry, blackberry, and açaí versus mango, which changes seasonally), they're pretty similarly priced (each one is ¥300, or $1.90).

Japanese locations offer a bulgogi bake and a dark cherry sundae

So there are plenty of similarities between U.S. and Japan Costco food courts, but what are the differences? Aside from the slight distinctions in price of the aforementioned items, Japan's quarter-pound hot dogs are made from 100% pork, while the American ones are all beef. As for the pizza, you can only buy cheese or pepperoni in the U.S., but you can get cheese or the combo flavor in Japan, which looks a bit like a U.S. supreme in that it includes a mixture of meats (like pepperoni) and vegetables (like olives and onions). Costco locations in Japan also rotate in seasonal flavors, which have been a Hawaiian or mushroom porcini pie in the past. And when it comes to the ice cream choices, these food courts offer a dark cherry sundae and Hokkaido soft cream made with Hokkaido milk, which comes from the country's northern prefecture and features a slight vanilla flavor.

Beyond these somewhat familiar items, there are a few Costco food court offerings that are unique to Japan. You can find clam chowder soup (although the flavors change seasonally), an açaí bowl with bananas and strawberries, and a chicken stick and potato bucket. However, the star of the show may be the bulgogi bake, which boasts juicy beef marinated in Korean flavors with a golden parmesan topping. It may be worth traveling to another continent to get your hands on this item alone.