Like America, there are a vast number of Japanese fast food options. These options range from burgers to rice bowl dishes, beef bowls, and even sushi. While both locations provide convenient, quick, and cheap food, fast food in Japan is unique with its flavors.
Below, we explore fast food Japanese cuisine options that are much different than what you'd find in the U.S.
Japanese Fast Food
It is thought that Japanese fast food was inspired by traditional Japanese dishes like soba, sushi, and tempura. Due to traveling feudal lords and their samurais arriving in locations every other year in Edo, the need for quick, low-cost meals were necessary.
The first American fast food chain in Japan in the 1970s spurred the onset of Japanese fast food. These meals included rice bowls, beef bowls, soba, udon, etc. Some Japanese fast food restaurants do not even have seats, only a long counter where you can stand and enjoy your meal.
What Is The Most Popular Fast Food In Japan?
Surprisingly, the most popular food in Japan is McDonald’s regarding fast food. There are 2,900 branches throughout Japan.
What Famous Fast Food Restaurants Can Be Found In Japan?
The most famous fast food restaurants in Japan are a combination of Japanese fast food and American fast food options. When traveling to Japan, you’ll find Mos Burger, KFC, McDonald’s, Yoshinoya, Marugame, and Coco Ichibanya.
Is Fast Food Big In Japan?
Yes, just like in America, fast food in Japan is quite common. You’ll find fast food restaurants lining the streets of Japan.
Types Of Japanese Fast Food
Below, we explore the types of fast food popular in Japan. These types of Japanese fast food are found around the country.
Burger fast food restaurants in Japan were inspired by McDonald’s and Burger King. This led to “copycat” versions of burger restaurants with Japanese fast food menu options. Expect to find Japanese beef and pork patties with lettuce and a soy sauce-based condiment at most Japanese burger chains. Examples of Japanese fast food burger restaurants include Freshness Burger and MOS Burger.
Sushi is one Japanese fast food that has also become a Japanese fast food in America meal. This type of food is thought to have started with Buddhists, as they cannot eat meat. Instead, they turned to fish as a way to sustain themselves.
It's common to see delicious sushi on a conveyor belt in Japan. Restaurant owner Yoshiaki Shiraishi created it in the 1950s. It quickly spread, and now it's common to see many variations of a Japanese fast food chain with a conveyor belt throughout the country. You grab the dishes that look good as they rotate around the conveyor belt. Of course, you can order additional items from the menu you don't see on the belt.
Beef bowls, also known as gyu-don, are thought to have been developed by the Yoshinoya restaurant. This restaurant began in the late 1800s but became popular in the 1970s. During this time, the popularity of the dish rose. You'll find beef bowls at any gyu-don restaurant, typically open 24 hours a day. These beef bowls are bowls of rice topped with thinly sliced beef and stewed onions when you order a beef bowl.
Donburi, aka rice bowls, are similar to beef bowls. However, the toppings vary with rice bowls. In these rice bowls, you'll find different ingredients like eggs, chicken, tempura (deep-fried seafood or veggies), and more. Ten-ya and Nakau are two Japanese fast food restaurants that serve this dish.
Best Fast Food Chains in Japan
Here are some of the best fast food chains in Japan, from burgers to beef bowls.
As mentioned, Yoshinoya is a popular gyu-don restaurant in Japan. It's surprisingly more popular with men than women. Specifically, you'll see a lot of blue-collar and white-collar workers here. It's a great spot for a beef bowl if you want to stop by on your lunch break yet don't want to converse with others.
MOS Burger is infamous for packing toppings onto its burgers. They typically include a delicious soy sauce-based condiment on their burgers that help them stand out from American-style burgers.
This Japanese fast food restaurant is well-known for its rice bowls, specifically tempura rice bowls. You'll find the majority of the Ten-ya locations in Tokyo.
Another popular fast food in Japan is curry rice, a dish with various types of protein like a fried pork cutlet and veggies covered in a curry and served over rice. Coco Ichiban famously serves Japanese curry dishes to its guests.
Can't make it to Japan for fast food, yet want some Japanese-inspired snacks? Check out Bokksu Boutique’s collections. From themed subscription boxes to Japanese sweets, handcrafted items, and more. Each time you receive a delivery from Bokksu Boutique, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to Japan.