At most tourist destinations a lot of restaurants end up being tourist traps with jacked up prices for an average/below-average meal. In these scenarios I found it was better to go to chain stores which were at least consistent and tasty – you know what you were getting into. Chain stores are nothing like Australia, that is, not filled with teenagers that hate their job and you. Once at a Japanese McDonald’s a grand piano was sitting in the middle of the store with the whole place littered with businessmen in suits. Class ;) A few of my favourite chainstores are listed below if you’re ever in a pinch.
How much do I love coco curry? To the point that I sing my very own song when I am in search of it. Although not the best looking meal around (ok it does look a bit like slop) but don’t be fooled, looks will deceive you! Coco Curry serves Japanese curry where you can choose the type of curry, level of spiciness, the amount of rice in grams and any additional toppings. My favourite was the deep fried quail eggs with a crispy outside and a piping hot center. The thick, gravy-like pork curry was packed with enough spiciness to enhance the flavours.
Deep fried quail eggs with pork curry
The tonkatsu had it’s juicy, succulent pork covered in an extremely crunchy deepfried batter – a delicious Asian schnitzel ;)
Gyudon is a Japanese beef and rice bowl where Yoshinoya, Matsuya and Sukiya are the largest players. One thing that sets Sukiya apart is it’s crazy combinations – we aren’t stuck with just only beef! My all time love is the cheese gyudon which uses 3 types of cheese. The cheese melts and mixes with the flavoursome, juicy beef and onions giving it an extra kick for the tastebuds.
3種のチーズ牛丼 (3 types of cheese gyudon – 480 Yen for medium size)
The mushroom gyudon was a special during autumn – earthy mushrooms mixed with the beef made for a warm, hearty meal in the colder months.
Matsuya is usually filled with men. I have no idea why but that didn’t stop us from plonking ourselves right between everyone. Japan is amazingly efficient even with ordering – insert the money and choose your meal at the ticket machine, sit down where someone will pick up your ticket and deliver the meal to you. All this in at least 5-10 mins where 15-20 mins is considered slow service. Very efficient and minimising the amount of social contact required, especially for those in a hermit mode ;)
Gyudon here is different to Matsuya – the beef is crispy on the outside yet juicy on the inside. Drizzled with a sweet sauce called ebi (found at the table) made it an extremely satisfying meal.
Wandering around Shibuya in a hungry and deranged state from having no luck on our search for MOS Burger (they’re usually everywhere). Fortunately J spotted Pepper Lunch to save us all from starvation :D
The beef pepper rice arrived in a sizzling plate filled with raw slices of beef, rice, corn, spring onions and a good dose of pepper. Stir stir stir – mixing everything with the butter and sauce hidden in the middle gave quite a spicy and peppery meal.
Beef Pepper Rice (680 Yen)
Although not the best of Japanese food is found in chain stores, it’s pretty darn good for a fast food joint – quick, cheap and tasty, that’s all we’re asking for. By cheap I mean most meals are only $5-8 :) Some good news for Australians – Coco Curry can be found in Sydney with Pepper Lunch having stores in both Sydney and Perth.