8 Most Popular Japanese Chains To Eat At

If you’re anything like me, you love food and crave unique flavors. I look for food from all around the world, but sometimes I need Japanese cuisine in particular.

Tokyo Japan Yoshinoya Restaurant Sign In

It’s no secret that Japan has some of the most delicious food around.

What are some of the best Japanese chain restaurants around? I went on the lookout and came back with eight of the best I could find.

These restaurants offer exceptional Japanese food, ambiance, and authenticity.  

1. CoCo Ichibanya

Curry House CoCo Ichibanya serves authentic Japanese curry that will make your mouth water. Its flavors can’t be found anywhere else.

You have the option to customize your curry spiciness level, which works well for people with a lower tolerance for spicy food.

Every dish here is great, but the Chicken Cutlet Omelet is my favorite.

The Chicken Cutlet Omelet is an omelet with crispy chicken and curry. I also decided to add some cheese and vegetables, and because I like a kick of spice in my food, I decided on a level 3 spice.

The dish was delicious. The omelet was fluffy, and the chicken was juicy, crispy, and cooked to perfection. 

2. Gyu-Kaku

Gyu-Kaku serves great food, and is also a perfect spot for nights out with friends and family. 

This restaurant primarily serves Japanese BBQ shared over a charcoal grill. Gyu-Kaku offers authentic Japanese Yakiniku with a menu that is full of variety. One of the most popular options is the Meat Lovers Pack. 

The Meat Lovers Pack includes Miso Soup, White Rice, Edamame, Half Gyu-Kaku Salad, and Japanese Chicken Karaage for starters.

For BBQ, you get Premium Sirloin, Sweet Soy Tare Yaki-Shabu Beef, Miso Bistro Hanger Steak, Miso Umakara Ribeye, New York Steak, Garlic Toro Beef, and Sweet Soy Tare.

You end the night with a delicious S’mores dessert.

The Japanese Sake pairs well with the BBQ. You can also select from seafood and vegetable options if you prefer not to eat meat. 

The servings here are generous, and I was stuffed after my visit. No one will leave Gyu-Kaku hungry.

3. Yoshinoya

Yoshinoya opened its first establishment in Tokyo, Japan in 1899. The establishment grew both in and outside of Japan and eventually made its way to Los Angeles. There are now 2,000 locations worldwide.

Throughout its history, Yoshinoya has remained true to its Japanese heritage. Their customizable rice bowls also provide a uniquely American spin.

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The bowls are freshly prepared, and you pick your bowl, protein, and base mix. 

You can choose from a variety of beef, chicken, and shrimp. You select from Japanese Udon noodles or white or brown rice for your base. The bowls also come with a side of your choice of vegetables.

Their signature dishes are Gyūdon Beef Bowl, Sweet Chili Shrimp, and Teriyaki Chicken.

I would highly recommend the teriyaki chicken, but everything here was delicious and authentic. 

Customize your bowl to your liking and enjoy a quick meal at this great fast-food joint. 

4. Tenya

Some days you might not feel like sitting down and wasting two or three hours on a meal, but want something quick and casual.

On days like that, Tenya is the perfect choice. This Japanese food chain offers quick dishes such as sandwiches, salads, and bowls.  

Their specialties are Pork Chashu, Japanese Curry, Gingeryaki Chicken, and Katsu Sandos.

The most popular dish is the Tenya Rico Bowl, which is topped with slices of mouthwatering 24-hour braised pork chashu (everyone’s favorite part), scallion, pickled red radish, cucumber sweet soy reduction, Japanese slaw, and sesame seeds.

The Chicken Katsu Sando was highly recommended and sounded delish, but I went for the Curry Chicken Rice bowl.

It came with the famous brined chicken, pickled radish, sesame seeds, and Japanese slaw. I also enjoyed a unique drink flavor, the Ramune Japanese Soda.

The meal did not disappoint. It was rich in flavors, and the lemon-flavor soft drink was unlike anything I’d ever had.  

Tenya is an upscale fast food restaurant with affordable prices. You don’t have to splurge or waste time at a sit-down restaurant to enjoy some great-tasting Japanese dishes. 

5. Gindaco

Gindaco specializes in the most delicious Takoyaki you will ever eat. 

Takoyaki is a ball-shaped Japanese snack, or meal, made in a special molded pan.

The wheat flour batter is made crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. It is typically filled with succulent octopus, ginger, tempura, and scallion.

Gindaco offers four Takoyaki flavors: Original, Cheese and Mentaiko, Spicy Sriracha, and Yuzu. Each flavor is incredible in its own right, but the Original remains the most popular.

I kept it simple and tried the original flavor. The Takoyaki was crispy golden, topped with a tangy Takoyaki glaze, seaweed flakes, and smokey bonito flakes.

I was told it was best to be eaten fresh, and though it was hot, the crunchy-chewy bite was worth the burning tongue. 

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Gindaco continues to grow, and I understand why. Takoyaki is authentic, rare, and irresistible. 

6. Saizeriya

Quirky dishes are my favorite and if you’re looking for something truly unique, try a Japanese Italian dish at Saizeriya.

It is unusual to pair two different cultures in one dish, but Saizeriya is a Japanese chain restaurant that serves Italian yoshoku (Japanese cuisine influenced by Western dishes).

This unique establishment offers pizza, pasta, and other Italian dishes infused with Japanese flavors.

The idea of two cultures in one intrigued me. I decided to try the Mentaiko Shrimp & Broccoli pasta.

The shrimp and broccoli pasta is flavored with a popular Japanese sauce called Mentaiko. In one tasty bite, I was able to experience both cultures.

You can get the best of two worlds with the Japanese-Italian food combo at Saizeriya. 

7. Ootoya

Need a vacation but don’t have the time? The Japanese chain restaurant Ootoya has got you covered.  

Ootoya offers authentic food, ambiance, and Japanese décor. The interior was designed by Shigeki Yoshimoto, providing a relaxing and congenial atmosphere. 

The food at Ootoya will remind you of a home-cooked meal. Their specialty dishes include sushi, sashimi, and grilled fish, along with the Ootoya hotpot and bowls.

Ootoya’s most popular dish is the Tori Kurozu An, a fried chicken and vegetable mix served with their original sweet and sour vinegar sauce.

The original sauce is the special touch that makes this dish so popular, and my personal favorite. 

You can find Ootoya locations in New York, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, Shanghai, and Indonesia.

8. Matsuya

If you scrolled this list looking for the perfect sushi place, then look no further. Matsuya serves some of the best sushi, rolls, and sashimi around.

The food is always fresh and tasty. The authentic sushi establishment offers a wide variety of options to choose from, but my personal favorite has to be the Matsuya Sashimi Pizza.

You read that correctly. My two favorite meals – pizza and sashimi – combined. The pizza is made with salmon, avocado, and jalapeno. Every bite was amazing.

To enjoy the best sushi, ask your server what’s fresh for the day. Whatever you order, Matsuya will get you some of the freshest, most appetizing sushi available. 

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

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