1. Kushikatsu Tanaka
    Photo: Keisuke TanigawaKushikatsu Tanaka
  2. Tenya
    Photo: Tenya
  3. Yakiniku Like
    Photo: Yakiniku Like

12 best chain restaurants in Tokyo

From tempura to pizza, these ubiquitous chain restaurants are great for your stomach and your wallet

Youka Nagase
Kasey Furutani
Written by
Youka Nagase
&
Kasey Furutani
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Sure, we love to indulge in elegant kaiseki dinners or Michelin-starred meals, but it’s unrealistic to eat that kind of food every day. For easy meals, Japan’s chain restaurants offer high quality, delicious meals – and you can usually get a huge helping for ¥1,000 or less.

Even better, most of the restaurants have English menus with pictures, making it easy to order. Move over McDonald’s; instead, try Japanese-style Italian food, fresh sushi, tempura and more at these restaurants you can find all over Tokyo (and Japan). 

RECOMMENDED: Top quality food for less with the best omakase sushi under ¥5,000 in Tokyo

Off the chain

Yakiniku Like

Yakiniku barbecue is typically enjoyed with a group of people, but this ubiquitous chain offers solo-diner grills only. You’ll get to sit at your own personal booth and order from a range of over a dozen different yakiniku sets that come with a side of rice, soup and kimchi. The cheapest set goes for just ¥580 (price may vary depending on the location), and comes with 100g of short ribs, or a combination of short rib and pork shoulder. Some outlets offer vegan-friendly soy meat, too.

Tenya

Tenya has been serving tempura-don rice bowls to hungry Tokyoites since 1989. After opening its first location underground at Tokyo Station, it now has hundreds of outlets nationwide serving crispy tempura over white rice. For ¥560 you can get a standard tendon with deep fried shrimp, squid, fish, pumpkin and green beans, and even add a side of hot or cold soba or udon noodles for an additional ¥280 to ¥380. Look out for its seasonal dishes like the Toyama white shrimp tendon featuring kishu nankobai ume plum (¥890) during the spring.

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Ootoya

Teishoku is a Japanese set meal that has a little bit of everything. At Ootoya, you can choose from over two dozen kinds of typical Japanese homestyle dishes including karaage, tonkatsu, grilled fish, rice bowls and more. Be sure to try the fried vegetables and chicken topped with Ootoya’s signature sticky black vinegar sauce (¥960). All the set meals include a good mix of veggies, protein and carbs to create a well balanced meal, and they’re made to order unlike other fast food chains. Many of its set meals are offered at around ¥1,000, all of which come with a side of rice, miso soup and pickles.

Marugame Seimen

The thick and chewy noodles at Marugame Seimen are made in house daily by the resident udon chef, using 100 percent domestic flour. You can get a basic bowl of udon to dip in the shop’s special dashi broth for as little as ¥290, and add toppings like tempura (from ¥90 each), spicy cod roe (¥90), grated yam (¥90), grated daikon radish (¥90) and more.

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Tsubame Grill

Tsubame Grill has been serving some of the city’s best hamburg patties made with locally sourced beef since the 1930s. Its signature hamburg is grilled inside aluminum foil with a special beef stew, ensuring it’s juicy and tender when it arrives at your table. Tsubame Grill has outlets all over Tokyo, but head to the flagship in Shinagawa to get an idea of what the original location looked like.

Saizeriya

This Italian-style chain restaurant is near and dear to many Tokyoites. Its cheap prices are unbeatable, where ¥1,000 can easily get you a three-course meal. You can get a plate of buffalo mozzarella cheese for ¥300 each, a single serving margherita pizza for ¥400 and even oven-baked escargot for only ¥400. For a classic Japanese-style Italian dish, try the doria (from ¥300) – it’s like a gratin, but with rice instead of potatoes. Saizeriya also has Italian staples like pasta (from ¥300), focaccia (from ¥100) and even desserts like tiramisu (¥300) and Italian gelato (¥250).

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Karayama

If you’re looking for a quick option to dine on Japan’s quintessential comfort food, Karayama is the place to go. Its karaage fried chicken is marinated in a special soy sauce for a night before being lightly covered in potato starch and deep fried, giving it a crispy outer layer with juicy innards. Kara stands for karaage and yama means mountain – and you’ll want to order mountains of fried chicken here. While the karaage is the star of Karayama, you can also get other types of chicken dishes, too, like deep fried wings and yakitori-style pan fried chicken.

  • Restaurants
  • Shibuya
  • price 1 of 4

Kushikatsu, deep-fried skewered meats and vegetables dipped in a sweet sauce, is an Osaka soul food. Cheap and quick, kushikatsu is not a formal affair – it’s perfect for a casual meal with friends and ideally paired with a frothy beer or icy highball. Tokyoites can indulge at Kushikatsu Tanaka, a chain of restaurants founded by proud Osakan Hiroe Tanaka. 

Each location has varying hours, some are open all day while others are only open in the evening as an izakaya. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Nakameguro

Keen for a piping hot bowl of ramen but not sure where to start? Oreryu Shio Ramen has stores all around town offering over 30 different ramen options to satisfy your cravings. Big appetites shouldn’t miss out on the Oreryu Otokomori-Ramen (¥980, pictured above), a rich, customisable bowl topped with chashu pork and karaage fried chicken, that is apparently ‘made for men’. 

A lighter, but just as delicious, option is the Oreryu Shio-Ramen (¥720), also offered in ume or yuzu flavours (¥980). It’s a refreshing option that won’t make you feel too bloated afterwards.

Sushizanmai

There are plenty of kaitenzushi restaurants around Tokyo and Japan, and it’s difficult to choose the best one. However, Sushizanmai, originally from Tsukiji, can be found throughout Japan and offers a variety of sashimi, kaisendon and conveyor belt sushi. Tuna is the top fish here, in fact, owner Kiyoshi Kimura calls himself the Tuna King. Kimura is like the Colonel Sanders of kaitenzushi, his beaming face is plastered on the restaurant’s facade and some outlets even have a statue of him. 

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Spajiro

Nope, Spajiro is not a spa. It is a chain restaurant dedicated to the art of spaghetti, specifically wafu pasta. Wafu pasta is a Japanese twist on Italian spaghetti, mixing umami-filled ingredients like soy sauce with Italian basics to create innovative flavours.

First-timers should try tarako spaghetti, made with pink cod roe, while adventurous eaters can go for the natto, bacon, ume and nozawana (Japanese green vegetable) spaghetti. There’s also a selection of Italian spaghetti like meat sauce, peperoncino and carbonara, which are all offered at around ¥1,000 to ¥1,500.

  • Restaurants
  • Street food
  • Harajuku
  • price 1 of 4

Gindaco specialises in the Osaka delicacy of takoyaki, fried balls of dough filled with octopus. It’s much tastier than it sounds, and piping hot takoyaki pairs well with an after-work beer. Gindaco has a variety of takoyaki with different toppings like cheese, green onion and mentaiko (spicy cod roe). However, you can’t beat the original takoyaki (¥538) here, which comes with sweet-salty tonkatsu sauce, katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) and aonori (dried seaweed).

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