Serving up quality burgers since the 1970s, Mos Burger (the second largest fast-food chain in the country, after McDonald’s) is a firm favorite with many fast foodies in the capital. My personal favorites are the exquisite fish burger with plenty of mayo and the signature Mos Burger, which comes with a huge slice of tomato and a kind of meaty chili sauce. Incidentally, Mos is an acronym for Mountain, Ocean, Sun.
There’s something about Freshness Burger that makes me come back for more, time and time again. The interior is reminiscent of a west-coast burger joint, and it has a solid menu of burgers, sides and pasta. Freshness Burger also does a mighty fine hot dog, which comes with oodles of finely diced onions and, for first timers, look no further than the signature Classic Burger.
Sometimes Lotteria haunts me in my dreams. Not in a bad way, more like a mental intrusion. The company, which has been in business since the early 1970s, has a brilliantly eclectic menu with the Rib Sando Pork and Spicy Chicken Fillet Burger being the menu items in which to truly indulge yourself. Though Lotteria is considered a South Korean company, it was founded in Tokyo, so we are including it here.
Said to be Japan’s first ever hamburger chain, opening its doors in 1970, there, sadly, aren’t many Dom Dom hamburger’s left anymore. However, there are some alive and kicking mostly in and around the peripheries of Tokyo. In addition to the usual burgers, Dom Dom also likes to spice up the menu with items like the Maitake Mushroom Burger and Ebimayo burger (shrimp and mayo). Personally, I’d opt for the bountiful Big Dom Burger.
I love a bit of First Kitchen, to be honest. Its Cheese, Bacon and Egg Burger is a thing of culinary beauty and if you pair it with the flavored potato sachets (I suggest the chicken consommé flavor), then you are in for a real winner. First Kitchen actually joined up with American fast-food giant Wendy’s a few years ago and lucky customers are able to mix and match from both menus. As a funny extra detail for you, First Kitchen is known colloquially as Faakin, a portmanteau of First and Kitchen. If you happen to be from London, on the other hand, it means something completely different.
Oh, be still, my beating heart. Sukiya, the very affordable and delicious gyudon chain that has kept generations of office workers, students and tourists on a strict budget very happy for decades, is always a winner in my mind. The normal gyudon bowl is great, but the chain also offers very nice curry and other reasonably priced dishes.
A giant in the gyudon industry, Yoshinoya is a great introduction into the world of the beef bowl. Lashings of thinly cut beef on top of fresh Japanese rice. Add a bit of soy sauce and some shichimi (Japanese seven spice) and you, my friend, are good to go.
Very similar to competitors Sukiya and Yoshinoya, Matsuya offers several variations on the great beef bowl. One very important point about Matsuya is that the chain offers its customers free miso soup with every order. And this miso soup happens to be outrageously good, especially on wintry days.
The Best of the Rest: Sushi, Tempura and More
If you are fond of cheap but very fresh and tasty sushi, Kura Sushi is for you. With a multitude of locations in and around Tokyo, Kura is the go-to place for all things sushi. It also has foreign-language menus, so there shouldn’t be any problem ordering if you aren’t too confident with your Japanese.
Ti amo Saizeriya! With your ridiculously cheap menu and flagons of wine, you shall forever be in my heart. I’ll have the shrimp cocktail salad, spaghetti peperoncino and the sausage pizza, please. Add to that a beer or carafe of wine, and you are off to a flying start. With a menu the size of The Canterbury Tales and a price point that is almost impossible to beat, Saizerya will always be my king and queen.
Ah, Tenya. The royal family of tendon (tempura on rice) chains. If you like a bit of stodge, and some lovely crisp tempura on fluffy Japanese rice, then Tenya is for you. It’s very reasonably priced too and a good call for solo dining and small groups.