Normally when the topic of Fast Food restaurants comes up, most readers must think about Burgers, French Fries, Fried Chicken from McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, Mos Burger, and so on. But, have you ever tried ‘Japanese Fast Food’?
What Are Most Cost-Efficient Fast Food Chains in Japan?
According to this website, there are many types of fast food in Japan. They are cheap, quickly served, delicious, and have high energy staff! However, the most well-known fast food item is a ‘Beef Bowl’ (牛丼 Gyu Don). The ‘Beef Bowl’ is a Japanese-style dish consisting of rice, topped with beef and onion simmered in soy sauce, dashi (fish and seaweed stock), and mirin (sweet rice wine). You are able to add any toppings on the menu, whatever you want in your own beef bowls such as kimchi, green onions or cheese, but the most delicious topping, in my opinion, is a raw egg. It is so nice to eat rice with juices from the raw egg and beef within one bite. The raw egg goes well with other toppings too. Hot miso soup usually comes with the beef bowl set too.
It is the best thing to have hot miso soup in the winter season with a beef bowl. Every beef bowl restaurant in Japan takes less than 10 minutes in rush-hour to prepare meals for customers. It is really crowded during lunchtime because they are usually full of salarymen. Fast food restaurants in Japan have often saved my life because it is cheap than other family restaurants. Furthermore, fast food restaurants are open for 24 hours or until late at night (around 3 AM). Thus, you will be able to find cheap and quickly served meals whenever you feel hungry.
Based on my experience, I went to join a Halloween party with my friends until late one night (the last train of the day) and I usually go to karaoke with my international friends, staying overnight (from 7 PM until the next morning, 6 AM). I stopped by a fast-food restaurant for a meal with my friends. I was so surprised because there were customers there who were having either a super late-night meal or a very early morning meal.
Moreover, I realized something about Fast Food restaurants in Japan. Most of their customers are salarymen. I rarely saw girls or women having meals alone in Fast food restaurants in Japan. I conducted an interview for my final project about this when I was an exchange student at my university. Most girl students didn’t go because they do not want to have a meal alone in a fast-food restaurant, but it is okay if they go with their friends. Some said it was awkward to have a meal among elderly salarymen. Some of them told me that they prefer to have a meal at other restaurants, like cafes instead. This article shows you the most cost-efficient fast food in Japan, by comparing a beef bowl’s normal size or a medium-size serving meal. There are many sizes of beef bowls, start from a mini size, up to large serving sizes. It is not only juicy beef meat that you get more of but also the rice in the bowl increases in each size. I would recommend for some girls, that you should order a mini size because the food portion is a lot more than you think.
Yoshinoya is one of the most well-known fast-food restaurants in Japan. Yoshinoya first opened in 1899 at a fish market in Tokyo. It grew to a chain of over 1,200 restaurants in Japan. This means you will be able to find a Yoshinoya restaurant at almost every corner street in Japan, and they are open 24 hours!
A medium-sized serving (並盛 nami mori ) is 380 yen; including tax. It has 652 kilocalories. For your information, an adult male should have 2,600 – 2,800 kilocalories per day, whilst an adult female should have 2,000 – 2,200-kilocalories per day. Thus, a medium-sized serving has enough kilocalories in the meal for an adult to have. The smallest serving size (小盛 ko mori) costs 360 yen; including tax. It contains 478 kilocalories. The large size or double extra large serving size (超特盛 cho toku mori) costs 780 yen; including tax and is 1,169 kilocalories.
In addition, they have a breakfast set and a dinner set on their menu, but the selling time is limited each day. They serve the breakfast set in the morning from 4 AM until 11 AM, and they serve the dinner set in the afternoon from 3 PM until 12 AM. You can see more of the menu from Yoshinoya on this website.
The breakfast sets usually consist of rice, hot miso soup, fish, mentaiko (Pollock roe), raw egg, natto (fermented soybeans), and seaweed. There is also another choice as for which miso soup you would like, which is either miso soup with pork and vegetables (とん汁 ton shiru) or clam miso soup (しじみ汁 shijimi shiru). There is also the option to add a ‘special miso soup’ for an extra couple of yen when you order the set meal. The dinner sets usually have rice, meat, fish, miso soup, and pickles. The dinner sets have more kilocalories than the breakfast sets. Even though breakfast is the most important meal of the day, everyone still needs energy at the end of the day to compensate for the energy lost during the day.
They also have an inexpensive luxurious menu which is ‘unagi don’. You can order it with miso soup or beef. The price starts at 790 yen; including tax, depending on how many pieces of eel you would like in your bowl. Another special menu item in Yoshiniya restaurants, which my Japanese friends recommend, is curry rice. Yoshinoya’s curry is different from other restaurants, it has a deep, delicious texture when you first eat it. You will also be able to choose any toppings for your curry rice, such as cheese, fried vegetables, pork, beef or a soft boiled egg.
The most popular beef bowl restaurant in Japan. They sell tasty and cheap beef bowls to their customers. Matsuya first opened in 1980, it started from a small ramen shop. They tried to make their customers feel happy charging a reasonable price and creating delicious meals which eventually developed into their famous beef bowl.
A Medium-sized serving is 320 yen; including tax, it contains 709 kilocalories. The smallest serving size (ミニ盛 mini mori) costs 280 yen; including tax and is 510 kilocalories, while the largest serving size (特盛 to ku mori) costs 550 yen including tax; and contains 1,299 kilocalories). They also provide a free miso soup when ordering a set, but you won’t be able to get the free miso soup if you are taking out, you have to pay 60 yen extra for takeaway. Please check out some more delicious meals from Matsuya on this website. English, Chinese and Korean translations are available on the website.
Some menu items can be ordered for takeaway. My recommendation from their menu is the beef bowl with spicy sauce, extra green onions, and an egg. Green onion goes very well with beef and rice, with juice from the egg yolk. Eating green onions with beef is the best part of this meal, you have to try it at least one, or twice. There are also breakfast sets available on the menu. The price starts from 290 yen up to 450 yen. The breakfast sets usually consist of rice, hot miso soup, grilled salmon, raw egg, fried egg, natto (fermented soybeans), kimchi, pickles and seaweed. Matsuya also has curry rice in the menu too. Matsuya’s curry rice is another must-try on the list because the premium ingredients make the curry soup deliciously full-flavored.
Sukiya is the largest chain of beef bowl restaurants in Japan. It has more than 2,300 restaurants throughout 47 Japanese prefectures. Sukiya’s motto is ‘save time and money’. Fun fact: Sukiya did not stop serving beef bowls during the ban on American beef imports. The Japanese government decided on 26th December to ban United State beef imports as a 6-year-old in Washington State, was found to have traces of mad cow disease in his system on 24th December, which can be fatal to humans. Sukiya simply changed to Australia imported beef instead.
A medium-sized serving is 350 yen; including tax, it has 733 kilocalories. The smallest serving size (ミニ mini) costs 290 yen; including tax, with 496 kilocalories, while the largest serving size (メガ mega) costs 780 yen; including tax and contains 1,458 kilocalories. These prices are for beef bowls only. If you want a miso soup, a raw egg, cold tofu, or a salad, you have to order them as a side dish. The price starts from 110 yen up to 190 yen.
Sukiya’s beef bowl has more toppings than other fast-food restaurants in Japan. They do not only have green onions and raw eggs, but also kimchi, cheese, grated radish, grated yam (山かけ yama kake), and mustard leaves with cod caviar and Mayonnaise. My recommended dish from Matsuya is the beef bowl with a mustard leaf, cod caviar, and mayonnaise. I could not believe that cod caviar would be a good combination with mayonnaise and juicy beef! My first bite was awesome! Sukiya has breakfast sets as well, which are served every morning from 5 AM until 11 AM. Sukiya’s breakfast sets are the same as the other breakfast sets mentioned, except they also serve potato salad. It was so delicious!
Likewise, they also have curry rice on the menu. Sukiya’s curry rice is rich in flavor with tender pork, large cut sweet carrots, and potatoes. Customers will be able to choose curry rice with various kinds of toppings such as cheese, simmered beef, and soft boiled eggs. It is easier to make the perfect combination in one dish by yourself. Tuna bowls are also served for customers in the Sukiya restaurant. A tuna bowl is a bowl of rice topped with sliced raw tuna or minced raw tuna. There is also an inexpensive seafood bowl available (海鮮丼 kai sen don) at Sukiya. Please check more delicious meal options from Sukiya using this website. English and Chinese translations are available on the website.
In addition, Sukiya restaurant also has kids sets. Beef bowls, pork bowls, curry rice and To ri so ba ro don (とりそぼろ丼) are in the menu. For the drinks menu, customers can choose either their favorite juices which are apple juice, vegetable and fruit juice or there is also Green tea and Oolong tea. Toys are also included in the set! Sukiya’s staff will bring the full basket of toys for kiddies to freely choose whichever 1 toy they would like. Kids sets cost 400 yen; including tax.
I guess around 10% or 20% of foreigners know about this restaurant. The first time I went to Japan, I had no idea about this restaurant until I got a scholarship and came back to Japan once again. Sutadon restaurant is close to my home, so I frequently have a meal at this restaurant.
A medium-sized serving is 630 yen; including tax. I could not find the exact kilocalories included from their website. The food portions at Sutadon is different from other restaurants. The smallest size is 530 yen; including tax. Adding rice (a large) costs 730 yen; including tax. Adding meat (large size) costs 780 yen; including tax. Adding meat and rice (both large) costs 890 yen including tax. Their pickled radish goes well with a beef bowl and rice.
In my opinion, the smallest size is enough for me. A medium-sized serving is too much for a woman. I could not finish a medium size even though I was super hungry. This restaurant has a point card for customers to collect after having their meal. 1 beef bowl earns 1 point. Please check out more delicious meals from Sutadon on this website. English and Korean translations are available. They have minced garlic on the table, which I recommend you to eat with your beef bowl with an egg yolk and rice. Gyoza is also on the menu in this restaurant. It costs 180 yen; including tax for 5 pieces and 260 yen; including tax for 10 pieces. Sutadon opens from 11 AM until 3 AM the next day.
Fast Food in Japan Is Delicious
But the most cost-efficient restaurant would have to be Matsuya by comparing the price, food portion, and kilocalories. Sukiya is cheaper when compared to ordering the beef bowl but they do not serve free miso soup for customers. Anyway, please enjoy your inexpensive, quickly served, and delicious meals from these fast-food restaurants in Japan. You will be able to save money and time for more adventures in Japan!