Japanese Fast Food

In this article we're going to look at what I think (with the help of Goo Ranking) are the most popular Japanese fast food restaurants.

Japan is full of fast food. In fact, in many ways I think Japan was way ahead of the West in pioneering fast food with the おにぎり and お弁当. These are quick on-the-go meals meant to be sucked down at train station platforms. There are also standing noodle shops where businessmen slurp and run. In a nation that offers maximum convenience, there are sure to be some fast food options.

おにぎり
Onigiri or rice ball
弁当(べんとう)
Ready-made lunch box

I found a list from Goo Ranking that shows the most popular fast food restaurants in Japan. I'll only cover the Japanese and not the American ones because let's face it, it's the same old crap. Okay, McDonalds has a teriyaki burger and KFC (called simply 'Kentucky') has a shrimp fillet sandwich. Moving on...

Here are the top Japanese shops according to Goo:

Mos Burger - Making People Happy Through Food

That's their motto and that's what they do. Their specialty is burgers with a variety of toppings including thick slices of tomato, hot chili, lettuce, cabbage, eggs and various sauces. For fast food burgers, Mos Burger isn't too bad. It's the favorite among many foreigners who live in Japan. They also have their own specialty menu items like naan with a hot dog and curry on top ? of course!

Yoshinoya - Tasty, Cheap, Fast!

Yoshinoya's masterpiece is its 牛丼. This is a bowl of rice covered with beef and onions cooked in soy sauce, sugar and sake. If you'd like the extra tanginess, you can also put thin strips of ginger on it. As you work your way to the bottom of the bowl, the sauce works its way down too so that the last bits of rice are covered in it. This is another fave among foreigners, partially because its vending machine ordering system makes using Japanese unnecessary.

牛丼(ぎゅうどん)
Beef and rice bowl

Yoshinoya's masterpiece is its 牛丼. This is a bowl of rice covered with beef and onions cooked in soy sauce, sugar and sake. If you'd like the extra tanginess, you can also put thin strips of ginger on it. As you work your way to the bottom of the bowl, the sauce works its way down too so that the last bits of rice are covered in it. This is another fave among foreigners, partially because its vending machine ordering system makes using Japanese unnecessary.

牛丼(ぎゅうどん)
Beef and rice bowl

Kaitenzushi - The Sushi Comes To You

回転寿司 is not a restaurant name but a type of restaurant, better known as 'conveyor belt sushi' in the West. As the name suggests, little plates of sushi make their way around the chef's station straight to your chair. When you see something you like, you pick it up and eat it. At the end of your meal, they count up your plates and charge you. You can shout out orders to the chefs and they'll prepare it especially for you, just in case you don't want to eat the raw マグロ that's been making the rounds for the last half hour.

回転寿司(かいてんずし)
Conveyer belt sushi
まぐろ
Maguro, a type of tuna

Gyoza No Osho - The King Of Gyoza

If you like 餃子, this is the place to go. The word 王将 means 'king' and with its delicious dumplings and AC/DC-like lettering, this fast food joint definitely rules. It offers Chinese dishes like fried rice, ramen, and the main reason why people head to this place at 3am after bars close? Their gyoza.

餃子(ぎょうざ)
Gyoza, or fried dumplings
王将(オウショウ)
King

Lotteria - The McDonalds Of Japan

Actually, McDonalds would technically be the McDonalds of Japan; but Lotteria is a fast food restaurant that bases itself on McD's. It sells hamburgers, cheeseburgers, teriyaki burgers, shrimp burgers and common side items like French fries. In recent years it has expanded beyond Japan and opened shops in South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam and China.

Honorable Mention

Finally, I want to mention two shops that aren't on the list. Freshness Burger has a variety of unique sandwiches including avocado burger, spam burger, bacon omelet burger, and their vegetable and beans burger. Their burgers usually have lots of fresh veggies on them and this is one of the only places I know of in Japan where you can get onion rings.

First Kitchen, which is often shortened to 'fakki' (ファストキッチン = ファキ) serves all kinds of different food in addition to the typical burger fare. They also have pizza, pasta, wraps, soup and their popular dessert items.

All of these places are popular with the foreign folk who live in Japan. The burger shops give you a taste of home with a twist, and the Japanese-style shops offer cheap and delicious meals that are easy to order. They're probably just as fattening and life-shortening as the stuff you eat back home, but since you're in Japan you'll at least feel healthier eating it.

- Greg

Greg Scott is a freelance writer based in Chiba Prefecture, Japan

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Japanese Fast Food

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