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Business trends

Japan Inc. takes another crack at the US restaurant market

Yoshinoya and other fast-food purveyors have a new secret sauce: American execs

Kunihiko Tanaka, center right, president of Japanese conveyor belt sushi chain Kura Sushi, listed the company's American unit on Nasdaq so that he will be able to dangle stock options and lure executive talent to the U.S. subsidiary.   © Kyodo

TOKYO -- Japanese restaurant chains are trying out a new ingredient in their latest attempt to expand in the U.S., but it is no ordinary ingredient -- it is business-related: American consultants.

Yoshinoya Holdings, famous in Japan for its bowls of seasoned beef on rice, invited a former executive of a U.S. restaurant company to head its U.S. unit and overhaul its menu and store designs. The result is Yoshinoya Japanese Kitchen, which adds bowls of tilapia, "enhanced" vegetable side dishes and a brown rice option to the menu.

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