Japanese izakaya restaurants are all the rage these days, but it's hard to decide which one to go to. When in doubt, go to a chain where you can enjoy good food and drinks at reasonable prices. Here are 7 seven recommended izakaya chains.
This is the place to go when you want to have a party with good food at reasonable prices. They offer a variety of courses from the Bimi Sensai Course (5,000 JPY/person (incl. tax)) which includes snow crab, nigiri sushi, tempura, sashimi, and pot dishes to the Gensen Umami Course (3,500 JPY/person (incl. tax)) with recommended dishes such as its specialty zangi (a dish from Hokkaido where meat is marinated in soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and other seasonings then deep fried) of young chicken, Spanish omelet (omelet where the ingredients are fried then cooked with egg in a flat, round form), sashimi, and pot dishes. All courses come with bottomless drinks for two hours.
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Yakitori chicken is a popular chicken dish representative of Japanese food. This chain is famous for serving yakitori at reasonable prices. It has amazing prices with all items, both food and drinks, at 280 JPY (excl. tax). On top of that, each one of the yakitori chicken skewers are carefully made in-house using fresh domestic chicken, so you can be sure of the taste and safety as well.
3. Kin no Kura
This is a casual restaurant where you can enjoy creative dishes such as the Chicken & Onion Ring Tower (590 JPY (excl. tax)) of spicy chicken rings and light onion rings. It offers a variety of bottomless drinks and all-you-can-eat courses, so it is perfect for large parties.
4. Tsukada Nojo
This is a restaurant chain that offers a carefully thought out menu using premium ingredients such as free range chicken raised on its own farms. There are three types of restaurants: Tsukada Nojo Nichinan, where you can enjoy fresh free range chicken and local sake from Miyazaki; Tsukada Nojo Kirishima, where you can have fatty free range chicken and Satsuma shochu from Kagoshima; and Tsukada Nojo Shintoku, which serves lean free range chicken and unusual sake from Hokkaido. Try them all for comparison.
5. Hakuri Tabai Hanbey
The restaurants in this chain are designed to bring back memories from the Showa Period (1926 - 1989), and their prices are so low they seem to be from that period as well. Their menu items are simple but tasty, such as the charcoal-grilled skewers that start at 50 JPY a piece (excl. tax), items from the oden pot which are 60 JPY each (excl. tax), and the okonomiyaki at 200 JPY (excl. tax). The drinks are also affordably priced at 290 JPY (excl. tax) for a medium draft beer and 190 JPY (excl. tax) for whiskey!
6. Hakata Mangetsu
This is a chain where you can try a variety of dishes from Hakata in Kyushu, an area famous for its rich food culture. The restaurants are mostly located in Tokyo. The low-calorie, collagen rich Motsunabe (880 JPY (excl. tax)) offal pot and Mentaiko Dashimaki Tamago (580 JPY (excl. tax), a Japanese-style omelet with soft and spicy mentaiko cod roe, are outstanding! You can also enjoy izakaya standards such as yakitori (46 JPY (excl. tax)) and draft beer (199 JPY (excl. tax)) at reasonable prices.
7. Sakura Suisan
If you want to fill your tummy with super fresh seafood, this is the chain to go to. Both the sashimi plate of the day and the special nigiri sushi of the day made with plenty of fresh, seasonal seafood are 1,069 JPY (incl. tax). If you plan to have a party, get the Gokai Tairyo Course (3,000 JPY/person (incl. tax)), which includes an abundance of carefully selected ingredients such as whole red sea bream and boiled crab!
Don't underestimate these restaurants just because they are part of a chain. They all offer creative and tasty menu items at low prices. Most of the chains have restaurants in large cities, so give them a try.
*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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