TOKYO >> Japan’s Tokyo Metro Co. installed a vending machine in a subway station in December that sells frozen ramen and gyoza from famous restaurants. Restaurant business in the commercial areas within train stations, called ekinaka, has been sluggish due to the pandemic, and the vending machine is intended to draw new demand.
The machine at Iidabashi Station offers ramen from three restaurants and gyoza from a fourth. Ramen runs from about $8.65 to $9.50, and dumplings cost just under $7.
Ippudo’s ramen pack, for example, contains noodles, broth and chashu pork. A set of cold storage bags and ice packs can be purchased for about $1.75.
While traditional frozen vending machines were designed to dispense products of a fixed shape, such as ice cream, newer designs can manage a variety of packaging, and the machines are being installed in more locations across Japan.
“There is a lot of demand for purchases that are not face-to-face, and we want to increase sales,” said a Tokyo Metro official.