Fast food restaurants are very useful when you need to grab a bite in a hurry. While there are many fast food restaurants in Japan, here are some standard ones to try.
1. Japanese-developed hamburger chains (Freshness Burger, MOS Burger)
The representative of fast food chains is definitely hamburger restaurants. There are plenty of hamburger chains in Japan, but the Japanese hamburger chains Freshness Burger and MOS Burger are highly recommended. The use of plenty of fresh vegetables and original creations like a rice burger, these chains had food of such quality you won't believe they're fast food chains. If you want to try something other than McDonald's or Burger King, check them out. Both restaurants offer food starting at a few hundred yen.
*The photo is an example of a Freshness Burger set.
2. Gyuudon (Yoshinoya, Matsuya, etc.)
Gyuudon (beef bowls) is a meal that became popular during the latter half of the 1800s and is a meal that Japanese people are very familiar with. It's known for being extremely fast from when you order to when you receive your food, so it's perfect for people who have very little time. Long ago, gyuudon restaurants had a very strong image of having only counter seats filled with men eating alone, but lately many restaurants have renovated their image by doing things like adding booths so that families and women could find it more welcoming. You will be able to experience a normal part of Japanese life by eating here.
*The photo is of Yoshinoya's gyuudon M size (380 JPY (incl. tax)).
3. Udon (Hanamaru Udon, Marugame Seimen, etc.)
Udon has been a beloved meal in Japan since ancient times both as an easy commoner's meal as well as something to eat during times in celebration. Lately chains like Hanamaru Udon and Marugame Seimen have become popular and have turned udon into fast food. The simplest dish, kake udon, will run you around 300 JPY. It's easy on the body as well so this is recommended for people who prefer to eat healthy if possible. At self-serve restaurants like Marugame Seimen, first you order your udon and while you wait for it to be finished you choose the toppings you want, like tempura or kakiage, and then pay for everything once it's all together at the end. You won't be able to choose not just between the type of udon but also the toppings.
*The photo is of an udon and tempura set from Marugame Seimen.
4. Curry (Curry House CoCo Ichibanya, etc.)
Curry has become a common meal in Japanese households, and curry rice, made with curry roux that's cut with wheat so it becomes thick and then placed over rice, is the typical way to eat it. The biggest curry chain in Japan is Curry House CoCo Ichibanya, called "cocoichi" for short. They have a huge menu, starting from the simple pork curry (442 JPY (incl. tax)) and beef curry (597 JPY (incl. tax)) to enough seafood and vegetable variations to make you dizzy. You can choose your toppings, spice level, and the amount of rice you want, so you can create your perfect curry. By the way, one of the most popular toppings with Japanese people is cheese (207 JPY (incl. tax)). It's popular because it mellows out the roux.
*The photo features one example of Curry House CoCo Ichibanya's curry rice.
5. Conveyer belt sushi (Kura Zushi, Sushiro, etc.)
When you think of Japanese food, you think sushi! For people who think that sushi restaurants in Tsukiji and Ginza are a little too out of your budget, you can enjoy kaitenzushi ("conveyer belt sushi") for cheap ramen and even a little entertainment. You can get the standard nigiri and maki sushi rolls, but lately they have new kinds of sushi like rolls topped with beef or hamburger, as well as udon, ramen, and dessert. There are big kaitenzushi chains like Kura Sushi and Sushiro, and at many of their branches you can order using a touch panel that may even have the menu available in other languages. The most important thing though is that plates start at around 100 JPY (excl. tax) so you can stuff yourself with sushi at a reasonable price!
*The photo is of Kura Zushi.
Many fast food places are near a train station and also have long business hours that include early mornings and late nights. If you need a quick meal during your trip, definitely stop by one of these places.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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