Japan is home to some of the greatest foods on the planet, but that hasn’t stopped the people who live from enjoying many western restaurants and the food they offer. Check out our article on western restaurants in Japan.
Japan is home to some of the best food in the world. There is a style and art to making the traditional foods that the people there eat regularly. Sometimes, though, people want to try something different. There are many times when eating the same fish, beef, or chicken dinner will get old and you will crave something that isn’t from your immediate surroundings. The same has happened in Japan, and many western-style fast foods and sit-down family restaurants have made their way to the country. Many of these restaurants serve the same foods and give the same style of hospitality as their western counterparts. Others have only been brought over in name and have been tailored to more traditional Japanese family restaurant styles.
We will look at western restaurants in Japan that cover the range from fast food to family restaurants and discuss how they differ from their western counterparts.
This will come as a shock to no one since McDonald’s is in almost every country on the planet. This fast food establishment is the most recognizable western restaurant in Japan and has locations throughout the country. It has everything that you would expect to see at any McDonald’s worldwide including their high service standards. The food even looks the same as the pictures in the advertisements and usually comes out hot and fresh. What makes McDonald’s Japan so unique is that it runs special meals and burgers during different times of the year. Some items return as seasonal variants, such as the sakura drinks, sweets, and burgers. The same for their chocolate fries during Halloween. They even offer special burgers that can only be found in Japan and run them at random times of the year. It is always interesting to see what kind of promotion McDonald’s Japan will be running.
Burger King is another fast food restaurant that didn’t change much from its original presentation and menu. They have the same western-style aesthetics and decorating styles and have made only a few changes to the menu. Burger King treats their business the same as McDonald’s in that they try to give the same high level of customer service. Although Burger King does not offer as many promotions as McDonald’s, they still have their specials that draw in customers. For example, when the Chinese calendar changed Burger King ran a special red burger to celebrate it. They have special lunch menus to assist workers in Japan that need meals that accommodate their busy clientele. They don’t have as many locations as their opposition, but Burger King is still a good option when you want a taste of home.
KFC is another restaurant that come to mind when Japanese people think of western restaurants in Japan. It has been in the country for a long time and has become a staple restaurant option for everyone who lives there. They have most of the same menu options offered in the U.S., though the prices have been slightly raised for the type of food they serve. The main deal that you see from KFC in Japan is their KFC Christmas dinners. Every year, people in Japan line up for hours to get their bucket of KFC chicken.
You can see the Colonel displayed in front of every restaurant, and they dress the statue in season clothes as well as samurai armor during celebrations. The recipe is the same as in the U.S. and so is the taste. There are many locations all over the country so you can get your fried chicken fix anytime you like.
For a western restaurant in Japan, Carl’s Jr. has not changed its menu at all. The same foods and menu deals are brought from the U.S. and because of this, they have increased the price of the food. A burger meal that may cost $8 in the U.S. will be 1,200 yen. All beef and no mixing of meat tend to make prices go higher in Japan, but the taste and service are still high quality. There are few restaurants scattered across major cities of Japan and they are mostly in high traffic areas, such as Akihabara in Tokyo.
Shake Shack is another fast-food burger restaurant that brought the full U.S. style dining experience to Japan. The same menu and ingredients are used in their foods. This tends to make the prices a little higher than other places, but the taste of the food is the same. There are few locations in Japan, and many are in Tokyo. You can find them closer to the center of the city. Some Japanese costumers like to go to Shake Shack to try and get the feeling of eating in a restaurant in California. These customers will often visit the same restaurants when they travel to California for vacation.
Taco Bell is one of the newest western restaurants in Japan. They have begun to open more stores over the years, and have become more recognizable by Japanese locals. The Japanese version of Taco Bell is close to the original restaurants in the U.S., but there are a few differences. The style and décor of the inside is similar to the locations in the U.S., but the menu has been changed slightly. Many items are not offered on the menu, such as the great value menu that had $1 items on it. You can still get their signature burritos and tacos as well as other standard Taco Bell favorites. The biggest difference is the pricing, as everything is significantly more expensive. A burrito with a side and a drink will usually be 1,000 yen, $10 U.S. If you’re feeling nostalgic this is a good place to grab a bite to eat, but eating there regularly will take a toll on your wallet. There aren’t many locations and most of them are in Tokyo, with Shibuya having two locations.
It is interesting to see the U.S. chain pop up in Japan. The decorating on the inside is an exact copy of the original restaurants, and the menu contains the same items with a few Japanese staples thrown in. Getting rice and soup there was interesting when the typical menu stays away from those types of foods. There are the usual menu staples and you will be treated to the same high level of service you would come to expect in Japan. There are a few locations in the major metropolitan areas and Tokyo has a few locations around its major areas. Outback sees a good amount of patronage, but it hasn’t yet become a highly sought after the restaurant chain.
T.G.I.Fridays is usually seen as the most western restaurant in Japan and many Japanese people frequent it. The menu is the same as it is in the U.S. and everything tastes the same. The pricing is the same as well as the service experience. The layout of the restaurant, the worker’s uniform, and even the bar area is the same as the original restaurant. It is a good way to enjoy a typical U.S. family-style restaurant in Japan. There are locations spread throughout the major cities of Japan and they are easy to spot. Just look for the typical T.G.I. Fridays sign.
Denny’s is western only in its name. It is a case of the Japanese owners purchasing the name but not following the original menu. The décor and employee uniforms are the same, and the feeling of a family restaurant is still there. The menu, however, has been turned into a typical Japanese style family restaurant. You will have choices of hamburger steak, curry, rice dishes, and sides that you will find in other restaurants. If you are hoping to get a grand slam breakfast you will be disappointed. It is a popular restaurant, and the chain is spread across the country. You can find them in suburban areas that are more family heavy.
Many restaurants that have opened in Japan and are western based have seen a large amount of success. Some examples are Pizza Hut, Domino’s, In-n-Out Burger, Starbucks, and others. More chains are looking to break into the Japanese market and get a piece of the fast-food action. Who knows what restaurants will make the next leap across the ocean.