- 10 Chain Restaurants you might want to try in Tokyo
- 1. Wako (Tonkatsu)
- 2. On Yasai (Shabu Shabu)
- 3.Mos Burger (Japanese burgers)
- 4.Tenya (Tempura)
- 5. Yayoi-Ken （Japanse set menu)
- 6.LIKE (Yakiniku)
- 7.Marugame Seimen (Udon)
- 8.Ringer Hut (Sara Udon or Nagasaki Champon)
- 9.Komoro Soba (Soba)
- 10. Kura Zushi (Sushi)
- Some meals can be at a chain restaurant.
- Stores I didn’t put in the list but are good to try.
- Some Tips for dinning in Japan
10 Chain Restaurants you might want to try in Tokyo
It’s not easy to make every meal fantastic during your travel.
Everyone has a moment during travel when you are “Ah, I don’t know which restaurant to go.. I’m hungry.” Even though you are on your vacation and food is one of the reason you come to Japan, it’s sometimes difficult to plan every meal.
Let’s say you eat 3 meals a day ,and you stay in Japan a week – that will be 21 meals. You cannot spend time on the Internet and looking at a guidebook for all the meals.
So I came up with 9 chain restaurants in Tokyo that you can rely on when you cannot find anything.
There are many options, but I chose these because you can find them easily in Tokyo, and still satisfy travelers needs to eat something only in Japan.
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1. Wako (Tonkatsu)
Wako is a tonkatsu restaurant that you find in many station or department stores. The tonkatsu is a Japanese style pork fry, and the most common menu that I recommend you to order is “ロースかつ” Roast Katsu. You can order by pointing out the menu. Depending on the location, usually rice and cabbage has free refills. In some locations, miso soup too. Miso soup that comes with tonkatsu is Shijimi JIru – a black small shells that give bitter deep flavor. You don’t have to eat the inside of the shell when you order a refill.
2. On Yasai (Shabu Shabu)
On Yasai is a Shabu Shabu restaurant that you see in many location all over Japan. The price will be around $30 – $40 and you can get all you can eat Shabu Shabu. Since the price of Shabu Shabu can be very expensive, it’s safe to go to a chain restaurant like this. They also have the choice of premier Japanese beef so if you have an allowance in your budget, you can go for it. On Yasai is great because you can order some side dishes such as salad and some dishes, as part of all you can eat dinner. In case you don’t order drinks, you can just ask for water. Water is called “Omizu” or “ohiya” in Japan.
3.Mos Burger (Japanese burgers)
You might think why I put a hamburger shop in this list, but I didn’t hesitate to do it. Mos Burger is a popular Japanese chain, that is competing with McDonalds. I like both of them, but they are just different. Mos Burger’s special is .. Mos Burger. It has tomato onion sauce on the meat, with fresh lettuce. I also recommend Teriyaki Chicken, and Spicy Moss Burger with some jalapeños. If you miss something American, you can order Spicy Dog, something like a small Japanese sized… Chicago dog. The price is around 400 yen for just a burger, and including the set, it will be around 700 – 800 Yen which is 6-7 dollars. If you want to try as many as burgers, just order different burgers.
Tenya is a casual restaurant offer Tempura – a deep fry of shrimp and vegetables. You can choose from Ten-don which is a bowl style, or teishoku which comes separately from rice, and is eaten with dashi, a broth. While the bowl is sweet, teishoku is a rather salty. I recommend the bowl if you don’t know what to order. The price of regular tempura bowl is around 500 yen, which is lesson than $4. They have more choices with bigger selection of tempura.
5. Yayoi-Ken （Japanse set menu)
Yayoi-Ken is a restaurant chain focusing on Japanese home foods. They have variety of foods Japanese eat, but especially fish meals are something you might want to try. However, be very careful for bones. If it is difficult to eat fish, go for Chicken Namban, or Karaage teishoku. Both Tenya and Yayoiken has free pickeles on the table, and for Yayoi-ken, rice is free refill by yourself. There is a similar restaurant called Otoya.
Yakiniku LIKE is not the big chain in Japan, but it’s one of the restaurant you can try when you feel like eating Yakiniku. The store is unique that it’s made for one person, with your own grill so that you can cook for you with your own speed. The well designed personal seat is something you want to experience in Tokyo. Since they only have counter, it might not be the best to go with family or a big group as many seats are divided to one seat, but you can still try for fun.
7.Marugame Seimen (Udon)
Marugame Seimen, is one of the udon restaurant chains you find all over Japan. You take a plate and order Udon that you like, and take after you receive it; you can take tempura if you like. Kake is a Udon with soup. In summer, they have udon with cold soup too. Kitsune is with soup and comes with big Age, which is a sweet fried tofu. My favorite is Kamaage. They serve you with big wooden bowl, and you eat it with dashi. It’s very simple and 290 Yen. About $2.
8.Ringer Hut (Sara Udon or Nagasaki Champon)
Ringer Hut is a restaurant from Nagasaki, that sells Nagasaki’s soul foods, Nagasaki Champon and Sara-Udon. Nagasaki Champon is a noodle with white pork based soup, but a little different from Tonkotsu Ramen. Something different is that all vegetable used in the menu are produced in Japan in their contracted farm. As chunky veggies can come from anywhere in the world, it’s a great plus.
9.Komoro Soba (Soba)
Komoro Soba is a quick standing noodle bar of buckwheat noodle, soba. Mori soba is a cold noodle that you can dip in soy sauce based soup, and Zaru comes with nori seaweed on it. If you like noodle with warm soup, Kake soba is the one you should look for. There are lots of other choices with tempura or other fried tofu on it. What I order is Nimaimori which means double sized soba.
10. Kura Zushi (Sushi)
Finally, a Sushi chain. Sushi might be the first food that comes into your mind when you think of Japanese foods, and the price range is very big. It can be about $1 per plate, and if you choose a small sushi bar in the town, you might need reservation and the bill can be more than $100 per person easily.
And today, I introduce a rotating sushi restaurant chain Kura. This is the store in Harajuku, and very clean and in good design. The sushi price can be $1 per plate to $3 or so. Some plate has one sushi, some has two. Probably it’s not a place to expect a great sushi, and it’s more a place to enjoy the experience. The great thing about Sushi chains are that you can get relaxed and have some privacy at your booth. There are no time limit usually, so you don’t have to rush to eat and leave quickly unlike noodle shops. But that means, once the seat is full, you have to wait for long, and it can be like 2 hours wait. So if you go for lunch, you might want to go between 11am to 11:20 latest, otherwise you might waste lots of time.
If you want for dinner, make sure you to come to the store first and take the ticket. You can wait seeing Harajuku as you wait for your table.
Some meals can be at a chain restaurant.
As you saw, a chain restaurant is a good substitute when you cannot find a good restaurant. It might not be the life experience restaurants, but it offers good foods.
I had Sushiro – a sushi restaurant chain in this list but I had to delete it as it became news that they didn’t have products they advertise, and also I found the quality decreased recently. It’s good to enjoy with your friends for just one meal, but it’s not something you should try when you come all the way to Japan. I hope they get better again.
Stores I didn’t put in the list but are good to try.
Take out only usually. This is not to eat inside the store, but Gindako is a store that sells Takoyaki, little balls with octopus inside. You can take out and eat in the park or in your room. Some location also offers drinking bar with it.
It might be super famous among foreign tourists. Tey offer Tonkotsu Ramen in a private booth. You enter the store and buy the ticket, and you choose the seat that is indicated not occupied at the entrance electric board. Then, hand the ticket to the staff, and wait for the ramen.
So that was 10 restaurants I chose. As I mentioned earlier, finding a place to eat can be a headache during travel. Especially dinner can be difficult for tourists who don’t drink alcohol, as what you see in the street is mostly Izakaya. An Izakaya is specially designed for drinking. You can consider these restaurants as one of the choice for your meal in Tokyo.
Some Tips for dinning in Japan
- Do not follow those guys who talk to you to come to their store on the street. They are friendly and you might feel happy when you are tired, but the restaurant is usually not very good and it can be a bit expensive for the quality.
- Also my recommendation is to include breakfast in your hotel stay. It can be difficult to find breakfast places in Japan, as it’s not quite common to eat breakfast outside epsecially in Tokyo. If you go to hot-springs or the country side, make sure you include dinner too. That is my opinion.
Further readings you might be interested in: Complete Guide to Tokyo