10 of the Most Popular Family Restaurants in Japan
Family restaurants ("famiresu" in Japanese) are casual restaurants that are frequented by people of all ages. They're great spots where you can enjoy a wide range of inexpensive dishes as well as all-you-can-drink soft drink bars. In addition to families, they're also perfect for passing the time in alone or with friends, as many are open 24 hours. They're very convenient for tourists since they are widely available all across the country, have menus with English translations, and all offer kid's menus. Here are 10 of the most popular family restaurants in Japan for you to try out!
Apr 19 2019 (Mar 20 2020)
With over 1,300 locations all across the country, Gusto has the most branches in Japan among all the family restaurant chains out there, so you'll find it pretty much everywhere you look! There's pretty much anything for anyone here, with hamburg steak, grilled beef and chicken dishes, Japanese-style dishes, noodles, rice dishes, and dessert. You'll be surprised to find that almost all of their items are easily under 1,000 yen!
Some menus are only offered at select hours, like the morning menu offered from 6:00 am - 10:30 am. They have Western-style breakfasts, with scrambled eggs and pancakes, as well as Japanese-style breakfasts, including grilled fish, udon noodles, and toast with sweet red bean paste. The Western breakfasts all come with soup and unlimited access to the drink bar (self-serve area for all-you-can-drink non-alcoholic beverages), and the Japanese breakfasts come with rice, miso soup, Japanese pickled vegetables, and the drink bar. What better way to start your day off than with a filling and nutritious breakfast?
You can tack on the drink bar, extra toppings, side items, or sets on any of your main dishes for lunch and dinner, too. And don't forget about their impressive dessert selection either to wrap up your meal! You can even try some matcha (powdered green tea) desserts with their Uji Matcha Parfait (649 yen), Soft Serve Ice Cream "Anmitsu" (Uji Matcha Sauce) (499 yen), and their Uji Matcha Sundae (399 yen).
Royal Host is a family restaurant that is managed by the same company that administers HUB, a popular British-style pub in Japan. Although smaller in scale than Gusto, they have over 200 locations spread throughout most of the prefectures.
You can order from the breakfast and brunch menu until 11:00 am, the lunch menu from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, and the grand menu from 11:00 am. For breakfast, they have rice with miso soup, pickled vegetables, salad, and your choice of hamburg steak, grilled prawns and scallops, salmon and fried eggs, or eggs and bacon. There's also pancakes or toast with side options like eggs, bacon, sausages, salad, and hashbrowns if you're feeling something Western. You can also get curry and rice if you'd like!
For lunch or dinner, you can order salads, sandwiches, sizzling meat plates, or even pasta! Some of their locations have special unique items such as the Royal Host in Nagasaki, which features Turkish Rice (1,630 yen) and Sasebo Burger (1,180 yen), as well as local specialties like Nagasaki Sara Udon and Gyoza (1,530 yen) and Nagasaki Chanpon Noodles and Kakuni (1,580 yen). Keep an eye out for these special menu items!
Bikkuri Donkey has a really distinct wooden, dimly lit interior. They're well-known for their hamburg steak platters, so it's a great spot for those looking to eat a juicy patty!
If you order from their dish menu, the hamburg steak comes with rice and salad. You can also order just the steak alone with no rice, and it'll come with two hashbrowns and a scoop of potato salad! There are a lot of different variations that you can choose from, with Japanese-style arrangements with daikon radish and perilla leaves, or more Western-style versions with cheese inside or on top. You can even adjust the amount of beef you want between 150 g or 450 g.
One of their top recommendations is the Cheese-Burg Dish for cheese lovers. The patty has a generous criss-cross coating of cheese on top, so you're definitely in for a treat! You can double up on the meat for any options up to 450 g too, which will come with one larger steak and a small one on top. You have the option to add extra toppings like cheese, egg, pineapple, or grated daikon radish, and you can also get corn soup or miso soup on the side.
While Big Boy is originally an American restaurant chain, there are actually more branches in Japan than there are in the U.S.! Japan is currently the only international country it has expanded into, and with over 250 stores all throughout Japan, it's clearly been a great business move on their part!
If you're walking around on the streets, your eyes will immediately spot a statue of their mascot, a boy in checkered red-and-white overalls holding a hamburg steak plate next to his head. In the American version of this statue, there's a hamburger on his plate instead!
While the American stores have an extensive All-American menu consisting of hamburgers, Belgian waffles, and strawberry pies, the Japanese stores actually don't serve burgers, and instead put a Japanese twist on these dishes, with many varieties of hamburg steaks, grilled chicken, and matcha (powdered green tea) flavored ice cream. There's also an all-you-can-eat option (includes Japanese curry, rice, salad, soup) and a drink bar that you can fully enjoy within a stereotypical American diner atmosphere.
Denny's is another American diner chain that entered the Japanese market long ago and has now over 500 stores all across the country. However, just like Big Boy, the menu has been changed to have a Japanese family restaurant twist, so you might be in for a surprise if you've frequented other Denny's locations!
From 6:00 am - 11:00 am, you can order breakfast with standard Western choices with eggs, pancakes, and toast, as well as traditional Japanese standards with grilled salmon and natto (fermented soy beans). You can also order from the lunch menu from 11:00 am - 3:00 pm, where you can order dishes like Pork Shabu Shabu, Hamburg Steak, and Power Salads.
With the grand menu, the world is your oyster! They have a wide variety of rice, pasta, beef, and noodles, so there's something for everyone. If you're feeling fancy, you can even order Rare Beef Rib Fillet (1,564 yen) or Sirloin Steak (1,996 yen for 160 g) with a glass of wine to go with it.
Bamiyan is a relatively large scale Chinese style family restaurant with over 300 locations in Japan. It sets itself apart from other family restaurants with its wide variety of Chinese dishes and all-you-can-eat shabu-shabu hot pot (beef and pork course 1,699 yen, pork course 1,399 yen). With the AYCE hot pot, you can add on an all-you-can-drink option with alcoholic drinks for 999 yen, too!
You'll have so many tasty options to choose from, such as appetizers like Gyoza (6 dumplings for 239 yen) and Meat Shumai (5 shumai for 299 yen), as well as classic Chinese dishes like Mapo Tofu (499 yen) and Fried Rice with Spinach Topped With a Fluffy Egg (799 yen, includes soup bar).
Of course, a meal of Chinese food wouldn't be complete without some noodles; try the Kitakata Ramen (soy sauce based soup, 699 yen) for a lighter option or the Sichuan Pepper and Chili Oil Tantanmen (699 yen) for a super spicy treat.
Joyfull is a popular family restaurant with over 800 store locations, with a primary focus in the Kyushu region where it was first opened. Like many other family restaurants, they offer a vast selection of both Western and Japanese dishes, which are categorized under Grand Menu, Lunch Menu, Morning Menu, Light Meals, and Kid's Menu.
At Joyfull, you can order from the breakfast menu at any time of day, so if you're feeling like having the Morning Egg Plate (495 yen, plus drink bar), which comes with an egg, bacon, salad, and bread, you're free to do so! You can even switch out the bread for rice instead. For a Japanese breakfast, try their Japanese Meal Plate with Grilled Salmon (603 yen, plus drink bar), a fancy meal with rice, miso soup, various Japanese side dishes, side salad, grilled salmon, and an egg!
You can order different dishes for a great value with their set deals as well. For instance, if you order any a la carte dish with over 299 yen value, you can get the cake set for an additional 199 yen (regular price 299 yen)! Their parfaits look great, too, and are priced reasonably at 538 yen each.
Jonathan's is a family restaurant chain that operates mainly in Tokyo and the surrounding areas. In addition to the standard family restaurant dishes, they also offer a wide selection of different flavors, like the Hot and Sour Noodle Soup (799 yen).
You can also order rice plates like the Tandoori Chicken and Mexican Pilaf (949 yen) and the Tomato and Chicken Healthy Multi-Grain Curry (899 yen). For their weekday lunch specials, you can increase your rice portion for free, so it's great for those who want to have a more filling lunch!
There's an extensive dessert menu that brings in many customers as well. They have a seasonal dessert menu that's constantly changing, like the Pudding and Amao Strawberry Sundae and the Belgian Chocolate Pudding and Ripe Mango Sundae (649 yen)!
Saizeriya is an Italian-style family restaurant that has the most chains in Japan after Gusto. It was established in Chiba where they primarily operate, and it was only in the last few years that they expanded further into the Kyushu region and Hokkaido. They even have locations in China! You'll notice they have a good selection of appetizers to start your meal off, such as the Grilled Spicy Chicken Wings (299 yen) and Green Peas with Bacon & Egg (199 yen).
One appetizer you might be surprised by is their Grilled Escargot (399 yen), which you can get with bread for an extra 79 yen. It's a rare treat that's doused in a mixture of salty garlic and olive oil, which goes together perfectly with bread!
Aside from the many pasta and meat dishes, another great thing about Saizeriya is their one-person pizzas! They range from 399 to 499 yen, so if you're craving a bit of pizza but you're also curious about another dish, you can order both without breaking the bank!
There are over 500 COCO'S in Japan, with stores in all 47 prefectures. You can order Western and Japanese breakfasts here, but if you're feeling particularly famished in the morning, you can opt for the Morning Buffet (weekdays 680 yen, weekends 780 yen).
If you feel like eating more later on in the day, you can get the Double Beef Hamburg Steak Cheese & Garlic Butter (1,390 yen) with your choice of sauce: garlic steak sauce, demi-glace sauce, or wasabi soy sauce mayonnaise. If that's not enough, there's a varied side menu with options such as Crispy French Fries (330 yen, with BBQ & mayo sauce) or Shrimp and Broccoli Ajillo (490 yen).
For a fancier, hearty dish, try ordering the Garlic Butter Sirloin Steak (1,590 yen), which comes with a whole baked potato! Just because you're at a family restaurant, doesn't mean you can't treat yourself to a refined meal!
As the name suggests, family restaurants are great spots to dine for families, but they're also popular with others as well! They offer good food at low prices and can be found pretty much anywhere you go. They're often open at all hours of the day and also offer unlimited drinks, so they're a blessing to anyone who's looking for a place to pass the time! Make sure to stop by any of these if you see one!
Title Image: Ned Snowman / Shutterstock
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.