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So what is fast food like in Japan?

2015.12.10

Writer name : Yoshiaki Hirota

Details some of the most popular fast food options available in Japan, including kaiten sushi, takoyaki and gyudon.

Ranking of Fast Foods That Foreigners Should Try

This year, iBRIDGE Corporation asked a group of 250 men and 250 women which Japanese fast food they would recommend to international visitors.

The results of the survey are compiled in the ranking below.

1. Kaiten sushi (conveyor belt sushi)
2. Takoyaki (octopus balls)
3. Udon noodles
4. Ramen noodles
5. Onigiri (rice balls)
6. Soba (buckwheat noodles)
7. Gyudon (beef bowl)
8. Taiyaki (fish-shaped pancakes filled with bean jam)
9. Japanese curry
10. Tendon (tempura bowl)
11. Katsudon (pork cutlet bowl)
12. Chinese dumplings
13. Japan's first hamburger shop
14. Yakisoba (friend noodles)
15. Soup

Has everyone decided what they want to order? This time we select a few dishes from the above list and explain exactly why they deserve to be there.

First, the top ranked kaiten sushi. Ever popular with tourists, sushi restaurants are divided into the affordable kaiten sushi conveyor belt style, or the more expensive and intimidating traditional style.



Kaiten sushi, as the Japanese word kaiten implies, is characterized by each dish being transported around the restaurant on a revolving conveyor belt. The biggest reason kaiten sushi is so accessible is that each dish is clearly color coded by price so you can understand how much you are spending with a single glance. In more conventional places, some menus list only the “market price” (which is prone to seasonal fluctuations) so watch out!

Enjoy Takoyaki and Udon Noodles on the Cheap!

2nd placed takoyaki is a fast food treat originating in Osaka. While preparation differs between restaurants, the premise is that a mixture of wheat flour, egg and fish stock is poured into spherical hollows on a metal plate, to which is added octopus, ginger and onions. Fried to perfection, the texture of the resultant spheres – crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside – has won the hearts of foodies nationwide. Careful, though, as the centers can reach extreme temperatures!

Tokyo's most popular chain “Tsukiji Gindaco” offers 8 pieces for just 550 JPY, and at this kind of price you really should give them a try!

Enjoy Takoyaki and Udon Noodles on the Cheap!

In 3rd place is udon. Across Tokyo, Kagawa's soul food of “Sanuki Udon” is becoming ever more popular due to the firmness of the noodle, the abundance of menu options and let's face it, the price! The noodles at Tokyo's “Hanamaru Udon” chain are handmade with a soup seasoned by rare small dried sardines and a soy sauce base, and though there are fancier options available a small serving of udon in broth will set you back just 130 JPY. While there are no extra ingredients inside when served, you are free to put in green onion, ginger or tenkasu (leftover pieces from tempura) to taste. The perfect pickup for when you're feeling a bit peckish.

Gyudon, Japanese Curry

Jumping down the rankings, we have 7th placed gyudon beef bowl.
This fast food dish offers a popular way to eat beef on a budget or when you don't have much time to spare. Beef simmered in soy sauce, ginger, sake and sugar is served with onion on a bed of rice. Famous chains include “Yoshinoya,” “Matsuya,” and “Sukiya.”
At Matsuya you can enjoy a normal sized gyudon beef bowl for just 290 yen, and the other chains have prices starting around 300 JPY. With menu options increasing all the time, and new flavors including green onion with egg, wasabi, and kimchi, you might find it difficult to choose!

Gyudon, Japanese Curry

Last on our list is 9th placed Japanese curry.



Originating in India and arriving in Japan by way of the United Kingdom, curry has firmly taken its place within local cuisine as a Japanese original. The base is made by mixing several kinds of spices with wheat flour and butter, then boiling with ingredients like onion, carrot and potato to be served next to rice. To try this super popular dish, head to one of the famous chains such as “Curry House CoCo Ichibanya” or “Go Go Curry.”

Whichever one you choose, both of these chain restaurants have locations all over Tokyo where you can eat for as little as 400 JPY. Take the opportunity to try some real Japanese soul food during your stay!

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