Two fried quail eggs stare out with tired, grumbling faces. They’re perched atop sliders decked with crisps of bacon, oozing cheese and patties charred to add smoky flavor.
The eggs represent Gudetama, the latest anthropomorphized character from Sanrio, the Japanese makers of Hello Kitty. The company describes Gudetama as a lazy egg, which students explain is fitting for their college experiences.
From Oct. 30 to Nov. 29, American restaurant Plan Check Kitchen and Bar is offering a Gudetama-themed egg menu, including the Sawtelle Boulevard location. The $39 meal set includes a spicy scotch egg as an appetizer, the sliders for the main dish, a chocolate custard for dessert and an orange ginger soda to wash it down.
The scotch egg starter was a pleasant surprise; miso aioli sauce and spiced pork sausage added a vibrant sensation of flavors, while the textured outer coating complemented the soft and gooey egg within.
The sliders were juicy and rustic, typical of a grill restaurant, but the tiny quail eggs, though cute, were overpowered by the beef.
Incorporating ginger hints, the cream soda drink was oddly off-putting, but the fresh acidity was likely meant to balance savory dishes.
The dessert, however, shined, with a layer of darker chocolate pudding and a softer upper layer of whipped mousse – a picture of Gudetama was even sprinkled in cocoa on the powered sugar topping.
Plan Check owner Terry Heller said his partnership with Sanrio began a year ago. The restaurant offered Hello Kitty collectible pins when Hello Kitty Con planted itself in Los Angeles.
After Gudetama was released domestically, Heller said his team was inspired to transform the menu since the character is an egg, which is meant to be eaten.
“The peak demographic, the collective of Hello Kitty (fans) that sort of subscribe to that subculture, is a customer of ours,” Heller said. “The response has been unbelievable.”
Heller, a self-described fan of Sanrio, said he took his 9-year-old daughter to the Sawtelle location Wednesday and said the shop had already sold 40 meals by 2 p.m.
He expected the popularity to taper off after the first few days, but he said it has gained momentum, selling out every day since they started.
“It just brings a smile to people’s faces,” Heller said.
While students find the critter cute, some don’t think it’s popular enough to lure many students to the restaurant.
One Gudetama fan on campus is Christie Vong, a fourth-year chemical engineering student involved in the Japanese Animation Club. She learned about the creature when her friends recommended videos, but Vong now uses the videos to practice her Japanese and even received a Gudetama pin at Anime Expo in July.
“It was super cute, I fell in love,” Vong said.
While not many students know about the lazy egg, Vong said its current fan base finds it more relatable than the feminine Hello Kitty. She said its lethargy is comparable to that of a college-aged student, as it complains about having to move, hates being woken up and wants to go home and be left alone.
Stella Lee, a fifth-year bioengineering student, discovered Gudetama during a vacation in Japan this summer, where she saw a person dressed in a yolk costume and noticed stuffed egg toys in claw vending machines.
“It’s really popular in Japan and Asia,” Lee said. “I didn’t know he was popular here at all.”
She believes Gudetama’s butt is the most prominent aspect of the character because it’s round and squishy like a yolk.
Lee doesn’t think enough students at UCLA know enough about the character to go to Plan Check, but said eventually the egg might catch on in the United States.
Vong said she doubts students will be able to afford the meal, and she’s still considering whether or not to taste the dishes. However, Vong believes the cute character has the ability to bring people together through empathy.
“He’s like the embodiment of what a typical college student feels,” Vong said.