In Japan, restaurants where you can easily bring the whole family are called "family restaurants." There are many chain restaurants nationwide and their characteristic is their wide menus and reasonable prices. Here are 5 famous restaurants to check out.
The first Japanese Denny's was open in 1974, and now the chain has many unique dishes and services that you can only find in the Japanese franchise. They have a menu that satisfies plenty of needs, from big meat dishes to desserts. A dish that is popular with people who want to stuff themselves is the beef stew Hamburg steak (1,186 JPY (incl. tax)). The beef is so soft you can cut it with chopsticks, and the plump, juicy hamburger will completely satisfy you. Plus, the touch added by soy sauce, the secret flavor, makes it go perfectly with rice. Also, if you go to Denny's, make sure to check out the popular pancakes and parfaits. The caramel honey pancakes (504 JPY (incl. tax) for a tall size that has a stack of 3 pancakes are made refreshingly with yogurt and lemon, and on top of that the caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream are toppings that balance the flavors perfectly. The cute appearance will capture your heart, so you can enjoy both the taste and the appearance.
2. Royal Host
Royal Host is a family restaurant that nonetheless has a high-class atmosphere. One of their best sellers is their pancakes (486 JPY (incl. tax), though some branches charge 540 JPY (incl. tax)), which are cooked to perfection one-by-one after ordering. There are fans that go to Royal Host just to eat their pancakes. There are plenty of popular dishes at Royal Host, but something that's highly recommended is their Royal Angus sirloin steak don (1,814 JPY (incl. tax), but some branches charge 1,868 JPY (incl. tax)). A "don" is a rice bowl, and in this dish it uses American brand Angus beef steak on top of rice, seasoned with a sauce that goes well with rice and mountain wasabi pickled in soy sauce, so even though it's American beef it has a Japanese taste. The Japanese seasoning makes it so that even though it's sirloin it doesn't feel heavy, so this is something that people who want to fill themselves up with flavors they can only have in Japan should try.
Saizeriya is popular because you can eat Italian food at very low prices here. Their most well-known offerings are the Milano-style doria (299 JPY (incl. tax)), margherita pizza (399 JPY (incl. tax)), and a glass of wine (100 JPY (incl. tax)) - all of their dishes are so cheap your eyes will pop! Also, it's not just cheap but also delicious, so nationwide there are more than 1,000 branches, showing how popular Saizeriya is. Each dish has a lot of research and tests to create an authentic taste behind it, and it's surprising but it took over 1,000 tries before they were satisfied with the white sauce used in the Milano-style doria. Since their whole menu is full of dishes that have that much work behind it, it's recommended that you go to Saizeriya in a group so that you can share a bunch of dishes. You can order as much as you want without worrying about the price, so you can enjoy a Japanese take on authentic Italian food to your heart's content.
4. Hamburg Steak Restaurant Bikkuri Donkey
Bikkuri Donkey, as the full name says, is a family restaurant specializing in Hamburg steak. Their Hamburg steak dish is a set that has the meat, rice, and salad, and it's representative of the Japanese idea of a Hamburg steak. They have 15 kinds of Hamburg steak, and one of their most popular is the cheese Hamburg steak dish (861 JPY (incl. tax) for 150g, 1,288 (incl. tax) for 300g). The steak is made from mixing ground beef and pork, seasoned with a Japanese-style original sauce, and topped with their own original cheese for a perfect balance. If you want to try a more Japanese-style steak, try the oroshiso Hamburg dish (829 JPY (incl. tax) for 150g, 1,256 JPY (incl. tax) for 300g). It's topped with grated daikon radish and aoshiso (perilla, often called Japanese basil), and the soy sauce and Japanese-style sauce makes it a perfect Hamburg steak for those that love Japanese food. Please try these for yourself.
*Prices may differ depending on the branch.
5. Café Restaurant Gusto
Gusto is the family restaurant chain that has the most branches in Japan, around 1,390. Their menu has about 80 dishes on it that you can enjoy at reasonable prices, and since they also have a take-out menu and a kids' menu, it's a restaurant that you can easily patronize in any situation. Something that can't be left-out when talking about Gusto is their cheese in Hamburg steak (499 JPY (excl. tax)), a meal that they've served more than 50 million times thanks to its intense popularity. When you slide a knife into the meat, the melted cheese comes out like a waterfall, and the sight will make your mouth water. The cheese is a blend of Camembert, mozzarella, white cheddar, and parmesan, and it goes perfectly with the Hamburg steak. One of the reasons it's so popular might be because they continue to improve on the recipe. Also, the French fries (299 JPY (excl. tax)) and the corn and mayonnaise pizza (399 JPY (excl. tax)) are voluminous meals that you can share after you try the cheese in Hamburg steak, so make sure you go with an empty stomach!
Japanese family restaurants are great place to fill yourself up on a cheap budget thanks to their huge menus. If you find one while you're sightseeing, definitely try it.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.