BuffetsThe Imperial Viking Sal

17F, Main Bldg.
  • Private Room (10 people or more)
  • Kids Friendly
  • Reception
  • Anniversary
  • Large Gathering
  • Casual

Viking Buffet Style Originated at the Imperial Hotel

Rooted in Nordic Traditional Cuisine

Did you know that the buffer dining style known as "viking" in Japan, which has become commonplace today, actually originated from an Imperial Hotel restaurant?
More than 50 years ago, in 1957, Tetsuzō Inumaru, then president of the Imperial Hotel, who was looking for a new restaurant for a new building, visited Copenhagen, Denmark, and discovered the smorgasbord (Swedish for "bread and butter table"), a traditional Scandinavian meal that allows participants to freely consume seafood, meats, pickles, and more according to their preferences.
Captivated by the concept of eating as much of what you like, Inumaru immediately tasked Nobuo Murakami (the future 11th head chef), who was training at the Hotel Ritz Paris at the time, to research this style, and the following year, on August 1st, 1958, Japan's first buffet restaurant, the Imperial Viking was opened. 

At the time of the Imperial Viking's opening: Main Building Chef Kazuo Ichiyanagi and New Building Chef Nobuo Murakami
Staff members invited from Copenhagen for the opening of the Imperial Viking

Joyful Dining Table of the Pirates

Despite no special advertising, the restaurant being reservation-only, and the charges of 1,200 yen for lunch and 1,500 yen for dinner (similar to the hotel's room rates at the time), the restaurant quickly became a hit with long lines of people every day. 
The name "viking" was inspired by the popular pirate movie "The Vikings" that was showing around the time of the opening. 
The choice was made because the word evokes Scandinavian countries and powerful pirates, a perfect match, and thus the restaurant was named the Imperial Viking. 
Since then, the term "viking" has spread nationwide as a synonym for all-you-can-eat.

The Imperial Viking menu at the time of opening (cover)
The Imperial Viking menu at the time of opening (inside)

August 1st Is Viking Day

Subsequently, the Imperial Viking developed its own equipment for keeping dishes warm, and in addition to traditional smorgasbord menu items such as smoked dishes, pickles, and salted foods, warm dishes and desserts were added to the menu.
In 2004, the restaurant was renewed as the Imperial Viking Sal with an open kitchen, offering about 40 types of authentic dishes for guests to enjoy. In 2008, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its opening of the Imperial Viking, August 1st, the very day that restaurant first opened its doors, was officially designated as Viking Day.

The Imperial Viking Sal entrance
The Imperial Viking Sal interior

Viking Concierges

Since 2014, we have Viking Concierges who are knowledgeable about the history of buffets and the proper way to select foods. 
They assist guests in enjoying their buffet experience by suggesting recommended dishes and explaining which drinks go well with them.
Since the opening of the Imperial Viking, which has brought significant changes to the history of Japanese cuisine, we continue to provide lively dining experiences to this day.

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