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Different From Back Home? Foreigners Reveal Surprises About Family Restaurants in Japan

Different From Back Home? Foreigners Reveal Surprises About Family Restaurants in Japan

Date published: 17 October 2021

Most Japanese people have been to a casual diner-style family restaurant at least once. In addition to having a large selection of both Japanese and Western cuisine, family restaurants in Japan offer seasonal dishes throughout the year. With delicious cuisine available at any time, family restaurants are an enticing place to dine for foreign residents living in Japan.

Here we will introduce what foreigners living in Japan found surprising about family restaurants. In addition to receiving many comments about the food, there were also some surprising observations that Japanese people wouldn’t normally think of.

Let’s take a look at what people had to say! (Below are answers taken from our questionnaire.)

main image: Shutterstock

So much variety at an unbelievably affordable price!

So much variety at an unbelievably affordable price!
Photo by: PIXTA

Firstly, we will introduce some of the comments we received on how fantastic the food quality is compared to the shockingly low prices. There were quite a few passionate remarks regarding this topic!

“Saizeriya is incredible! You can order wine, escargot, and cheese all for around 2,000 yen. And of course, everything is delicious!” (Australia/30’s/Male)

“COCO’s fries are really good, and the portion sizes are big. Plus it’s cheap!” (U.S./20’s/Female)

“Royal Host’s Angus sirloin steak is super high quality and tender. It’s like something you would get at a fancy restaurant. It blows my mind that you can order a dish like that for under 3,000 yen (US$30) in Japan.” (U.K./40’s/Male)

“I love Denny’s devil’s brownie sundae. It’s a delightful treat of cake, mousse, and ice cream all for a little over 500 yen.” (India/20’s/Female)

Wine, fries, steak, and parfait! We were able to get a good idea of what people like to eat at well-known family restaurants. On top of being inexpensive, these restaurants will leave you completely satisfied with their hefty portions.

Drink bars at family restaurants in Japan are a life-saver!

Drink bars at family restaurants in Japan are a life-saver!
Photo by: PIXTA

We also received many comments about the drink bar. As it's a free-flow drink service with a range of different beverages, it's absolute must-have at family restaurants in Japan.

“The drink bar is really convenient. Even though it's super cheap, you can get refills however many times you want.” (Norway/30’s/Male)

“The first time I used a drink bar, I was surprised at how clean it was despite the amount of people using it.” (China/30’s/Male)

Although the drink bar is a popular service, it might come as a surprise to those who have never used it. It might just be in Japan that you can experience something so well-kept and organized while still inexpensive with lots of variety! There were many comments from people in awe of how clean the drink bar was kept.

Different from home...Japanese family restaurants!

Different from home...Japanese family restaurants!
Photo by: PIXTA

Eating establishments similar to Japanese family restaurants can be found all over the world. Although the differences when comparing the two can be quite surprising, many people had good things to say about the services and food available at Japanese family restaurants.

“Denny’s is actually an American diner, so I was surprised at how different the menu in Japan was the first time I went. Instead of just hamburgers, more than half of the menu was Japanese food. After I got used to Japanese cuisine, I came to like the Japanese Denny’s more. My favorite has to be the tempura dish.” (U.S./30’s/Male)

“Denny’s in America isn’t healthy at all, but the Japanese Denny's, or just family restaurants in general, have healthy options that women can enjoy! I like to order a smoothie and a salad together.” (U.S./30’s/Female)

“In Korea, you only go to family restaurants on special occasions since they are a little expensive. Family restaurants in Japan are nice because you can stop by no matter what the occasion is.” (Korea/20’s/Male)

We were able to ask two Americans about Denny’s in the United States. As expected, they shared that they were surprised at how different it was compared to the completely American style of dining they were used to. However, they also shared that they now like the Japanese version as much as they like the one back home!

Menus and services that make dining easier for foreigners

Menus and services that make dining easier for foreigners
Photo by: PIXTA

Some people shared their unique perspectives on family restaurants through their experience of living in Japan as a foreign resident.

“Being able to order via touch screen is cool! I’m not that confident in my Japanese skills yet, so it’s a comforting option to have.” (Italy/20’s/Female)

“I go to family restaurants often because there’s one close to my college. It’s nice that there are a lot of different kinds of salads! I can also easily take any of my friends who can’t eat meat for religious reasons.” (Malaysia/20’s/Male)

At family restaurants, touch screen menus prevent any communication problems, and the extensive menu offers options for those who may have dietary restrictions due to religious practices. All in all, family restaurants are a place that surpasses any boundaries made by language or religion.

Whenever with whomever: family restaurants are everywhere in Japan!

Whenever with whomever: family restaurants are everywhere in Japan!
Photo by: PIXTA

Lastly, we will introduce some of the comments discussing family restaurants' location and customer base.

“It’s convenient that Japan has family restaurants everywhere. In Peru, we don’t have many options for places you can eat out as a family. Even if there is a restaurant, you’ll usually have to drive there.” (Peru/20’s/Female)

“Restaurants you can go to with a co-worker, family member, friend, and even by yourself are rare.” (Kenya/30’s/Male)

What’s more, we also received the following observation.

“No matter if it’s a high-end residential area or a middle-class section of town, you can easily find family restaurants in Japan. In South America, there’s a large wealth gap, so poor neighborhoods don’t have any restaurants like this. Amazingly, there is an environment where everyone has an equal opportunity to eat high-quality food. A country that has family restaurants like Japan is a wealthy one!” (Chile/30’s/Male)

You can find family restaurants in many places throughout Japan. This includes in front of a train station, in a department store, next to the highway, etc. These eating establishments are a common sight. However, according to people from South America or Africa, finding these restaurants everywhere and going with whomever you choose seems to be very surprising. When considering this, family restaurants may be one of the representative places of Japan.

After looking through all the comments, we’ve found that family restaurants are a convenient and safe option for foreign residents living in Japan. Offering an extensive menu and drink bar, they can be found everywhere to use for any occasion.

Taking this into consideration during your next visit may lead you to find another special feature of the already truly remarkable family restaurant!

Written by:

Ran Tanaka

Ran Tanaka

A writer based in Southeast Asia. Happy life is with cheap beer.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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