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Japanese Get First Taste of Subway Sandwiches

March 25, 1992

TOKYO (AP) _ The Subway restaurant chain launched a new weapon in Japan’s fast-food wars on Wednesday: the American-style submarine sandwich.

Many in the lunchtime crowd at Japan’s first Subway outlet weren’t exactly sure what a ″sub″ tasted like, but they seemed to approve after they tried one.

Jotaro Fujii, president of Subway Japan, said Japanese consumers are weary of hamburgers and searching for new repasts. His boss, the beverage giant Suntory Ltd., also owns First Kitchen, a local hamburger chain.

To attract jaded fast-food lovers, hamburger chains have introduced variations like rice burgers with seaweed and burdock root, ginger chicken burgers, bean paste rolls and devil’s-tongue juice, squeezed from a tuberous root.

Frederick DeLuca, president of the Subway company in the United States, said Japan is the chain’s 10th country and the Tokyo store its 6,450th outlet, give or take a few.

The shops will import meat, bread, paper products and equipment from the United States, DeLuca said, ″so every time someone eats a Subway sandwich here they’ll be helping the trade imbalance.″

To start with, all the sandwiches will be the same as in America, including the long-popular ″BMT″: a ham, salami and bologna concoction named after a New York subway line.

Does the future hold a sushi and seaweed sub named after a Tokyo subway, perhaps the nearby Marunouchi?

″We can imagine many things,″ Fujii said.