Japan’s tastiest greasy spoon chain

“Greasy Spoon” is perhaps an exaggeration for some of these places listed in this goo Ranking survey into Japan’s tastiest set meal chain restaurants.

The basic features of a set meal in Japan is usually one main meat dish like pork cutlet or boiled beef, with rice, miso soup and pickles, and maybe a small salad or other side dish, all often for under 1,000 yen. Here’s a sample from the rather nice (but over 1,000 yen) Obon no Gohan chain:

鮭魚排蜂蜜生薑燒, 御盤de食堂, おぼんdeごはん, 微風松高, 台北

Number 2, Ootoya is just about my favourite price/performance-wise on the list, and is far from the greasy spoon I in the title. Last time I was there I had a very quiet and relaxed time with basil grilled chicken on a large salad bed plus the above side dishes and self-service soft drinks, posh tea bags and freshly-brewed coffee for just over 1,000 yen.

On the other hand, places like Sukiya, Yoshinoya and Matsuya are rapid gob-stuffing pit stops (convince me otherwise!) that as someone very sensitive to chewing and slurping noises quite frankly scare me!

What’s your favourite chain?

Japan’s favourite conveyor belt sushi chain

Whenever (if ever…) tourism opens back up again, one must-visit place for many foreigners is a conveyor-belt sushi restaurant, so this survey from goo Ranking into Japan’s most favourite conveyor-belt sushi chain may be useful for ideas of where to go. This video might also give you tips on how to behave whilst there:

Note that in Japanese, the “conveyor belt” part of the name is pronunced as “kaiten” (or sometimes “mawashi” or “mawaru”), so I have kept the original Japanese rendering in this translation.

Despite having been in Japan more years than I care to remember, I’ve only once been to a sushi place and I stayed clear of the whole raw fish section…

Japan’s favourite crisps

Let’s find out with goo Ranking what Japan’s favourite crisps (or chips, if you are so inclined) are.

Back in Scotland, it was Walker’s, and usually cheese flavour, but now in Japan it’s sour cream and onion, and Calbee is my favourite brand, although Koikeya’s Pride Potatoes are not bad too.

Now there’s a thing – I’ve never seen Smoky Bacon despite that being a standard UK flavour, and Vinegar is a rarity in crisps yet is a fundamental in many Japanese dishes.

The Calbee adverts can be quite entertaining (these are for Consommé Punch)


Italian and gyoza most wanted nearby chains

Japan has many cheap (and not so cheap) chain restaurants and cafes but I’m sure everyone has a favourite they wish were closer. This was the question goo Ranking asked, which chain restaurant do people most wish would open a new branch nearby them.

I’d vote for Tully’s Coffee (random photo from a snack there attached); I find them very pleasant and with very drinkable coffee and cheap pasta lunches. Unfortunately the nearest one (four train stops away) suddenly closed just before the lockdown.

Even though I live beside an express stop train station, all we have is the greasy Chinese spoon Bamiyan and a privately-owned traditional style coffee shop; a nice Tully’s or similar would improve the neighbourhood no end!

Which chain do you wish was closer?

Japan’s tastiest family restaurant

Saizeriya Naruse dessert menuToday we have goo Ranking looking at where Japanese rate as the tastiest family restaurant. “Family restaurant” is another example of Japanese English; it isn’t “family-owned”, but “family-friendly”.

Saizeria as number one (incidentally, it’s also the foreign traveller’s favourite) is a little surprising; their pasta is all dried pasta, and their pizza bases are just cheap pastry, not dough.

I’ve never been to Bikkuri Donkey, but Royal Host was quite bland the one time I visited, but in the restaurant floor of my local department store it’s always the place with the longest queues.

Bamiyan is the nearest famires to my house, so we go there when we can’t be bothered cooking and I have overtime, but it’s very greasy on the whole.

From the list, the tastiest in my opinion is Saint Marc. It’s slightly more expensive, but the food is less industrial and not overloaded with fat, sauces or salt, and the all-you-can-eat bread roll selection is rather good. Where is your favourite?

The photo here is of Saizeriya’s dessert offerings; this is my third most popular photo on Google Maps, with just under 100,000 views.

Almost all Japanese like pork

Let’s celebrate the Chinese New Year of the pig by a survey from @nifty looking at pigs and their meat.

In Japan the year’s animal is a wild boar rather than a pig, but as far as I am aware wild boar meat (and game in general) is not very popular at all in Japan, despite the massive pig love. In fact (although I’m not going to go back to check) I think pork is the most popular of all these “Do you like…?” questions.

Anyway, for all you bacon fans, bacon doesn’t appear explicitly on the list, in fact in my experience bacon is a rarity, although thinly-sliced fatty belly pork does feature in many dishes here.

Here’s a typical example of the pig-themed mosquito coil holder:

Mosquito-Repellent Incense

Wasabi the food Japanese most came to like as adults

Here’s a fun survey from goo Ranking on foods people came to like as adults.

The most hated foods (I would guess) from both sides of the Atlantic don’t make in onto this list. In the UK, Brussels sprouts were definitely something I disliked greatly as a kid, but they are very rarely seen in Japan to feature anywhere on the list. Broccoli on the other hand is very common in Japan, and in fact for the film Inside Out, Pixar replaced the broccoli scene with peppers!

I’m not sure what exactly the difference between the two types of perilla is; oba is a whole leaf, I believe, but shiso might refer to either the purple variety or the dried type that is sometimes used in rice toppings, I think.

As to why apple pie is on the list, though, I have no idea!

Here’s some fresh wasabi, which I still dislike; to the left is nagaimo, which will end up as 48, grated yam, another dislike of mine, along with other sticky vegetables like okura (that’s another omission from the list!):


Japan’s favourite eggs are chicken, salmon and cod

This survey from @nifty looked at egg-based foods, covering both bird eggs and fish roe.

My parents often ate cod roe and herring roe; I only tried cod once as a child, but I can still remember the unpleasant texture. Although we ate a lot of salmon in our house (my father would regularly catch many fish) I cannot remember salmon roe ever appearing on the table. I don’t know if it was that he only went fishing after the spawning season, or he chucked them away, or what. Next time I’m on the phone I’ll have to ask!

By the way, note that percentages with one decimal place are exact values, but with no decimal places are estimates read off graphs.

Here’s some typical salmon roe – to me it just looks too polished and deeply-coloured, so I always suspect there must be artificial colouring added (they do it to farmed salmon meat, so why not eggs too) and something else pre-serving for that extra shine:

Japanese New Years Cuisine (Salmon Roe)