Max choice, mini price
Originally created to satisfy a varied clientele, family restaurants are very popular in Japan. What are they and where can you find them? Here's an introduction to six well-known family restaurant chains beloved by the Japanese.
Varied menus at low prices
Commonly known as famiresu (ファミレス), family restaurants are for everyone. They appeal to both students and retirees, and are frequented by both families with children and office workers alike.
The key to their success? A recipe that has proven itself: offering plenty of choice to customers, while ensuring unbeatable prices in the catering market.
Japanese hamburger steaks for less than 600 yen, pasta for pennies, and ice cream at low prices, these chain restaurants offer the opportunity to eat a complete meal for less than 1,000 yen (under $10 USD) per person.
It's a formula that has greatly contributed to their success throughout the country, just like the huge variety on their menus.
You'll find absolutely everything at a famiresu! From Japanese specialities like katsudon to classic Western dishes like pizza, you'll always find something to tempt you.
Especially since the menus change regularly, as they adapt to offer seasonal items or those celebrating events in the Japanese calendar.
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Ideal for those on a budget, family restaurants also offer great value add-ons, such as their ''drink bar'' option at less than 300 yen, which lets you enjoy unlimited soft drinks from a self service counter in a corner of restaurants.
The ''drink bar'' sometimes even offers soups, which all customers can enjoy if they order one of the many "menus of the day" offered by the chains.
- See more: Go out, eat and drink in Tokyo
6 big famiresu chains
Often open 24 hours a day, family restaurants take the form of chains outlets seen throughout the country. They are found both in the city and in the countryside, and they often work together to offer discounts at partner restaurant chains.
There are now around fifteen main family restaurant chains in Japan (some of which are specific to certain regions of the country), and 6 of them are ubiquitous in the world of famiresu:
With more than 1,300 locations across the country, Gasuto is probably the most popular family restaurant chain in Japan. It offers different menus each month, and makes sure to keep prices low all year round.
Surfing the popularity of Italian cuisine in Japan, Saizeriya offers pizza, pasta and other beloved Italian specialties (with a Japanese twist!) at low prices.
Denny's is a well-known American family restaurant chain that offers both American dishes and more local Japanese specialties.
A little more expensive than some of the others, Jonathan is popular with customers looking for more original and good quality dishes. There are many salads and a nice dessert menu.
With just 700 restaurants, Joyfull is an outsider in the world of family restaurants. Yet this 'small' chain has much to offer, since the menu boasts many meat dishes for less than 1,300 yen, such as American burgers and steaks.
Specializing in Chinese food, the Bamiyan chain has fewer than 300 locations throughout the country. It's a favorite for lovers of fried noodles and other specialties of Japan's neighboring country.