Here in the United States we have the standard heavy weights in the fast food arena when it comes to burgers: McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Hardees / Carl’s Jr., etc… While many of those fast food joints have been exported abroad, I got to wondering, what are some popular local home-grown fast food restaurants in other countries? And what kind of food do they serve? Today we’ll take a look at 5 Japanese fast food restaurants where burgers are the main attraction.
1. Mos Burger
Mos Burger’s Motto: Making people happy through food
The Basics: The Japanese call it “モスバーガ” (,Mosu bāgā) and the name comes from the first letters of Mountain, Sun, and Ocean. How that relates to burgers, I’m not sure (maybe how cows sometimes live on mountains, the sun provides food for the grass that cows eat, and the ocean provides the water that grows the grass…) but Japanese people don’t seem to care as Mos Burger is the second most popular fast food chain right after McDonald’s.
Known For: Serving burgers with a twist and using fresh ingredients.
Unique Item(s): Eel Burgers, Rice Burgers, and the Takumi Burger a 1000 yen (about 9 dollars) burger that has “slices of avocado, Tasmanian beef, grated wasabi, and other rare seasonal ingredients”
2. First Kitchen
First Kitchen’s Motto: City convenience restaurant (sounds like a nicer way of saying “fast food restaurant”)
The Basics: Known as ファーストキッチン (fāsuto kicchin) it’s basic fast fast food joint that also mixes things up by offering non-standard fast food fare like ice cream floats, soups, pasta and pizza. Japanese sometimes shorten the name to Fakkin (ファッキン) or simply FK as in Efukei (エフケイ).
Known for: Serving lots of mayo with their hamburgers and having a flavor bar for your French Fries (different ways of seasoning your fries)
Unique Item(s): 8 flavors of French Fries (which they call “Flavor Potato”) including: Korean BBQ, buttered potato, basil, chicken soup, Italian tomato, garlic, Korean seaweed, and regular plain old french fry flavor.
3. Freshness Burger
Freshness Burger’s Motto: “Freshness Burger” is made from nature friendly ingredients and made with pride. All “Freshness Burger” staff has been pursuing the heartful service…a bit of urban oasis for everyone.
The Basics: Made to order burgers in an “early American” decor. The original concept when they first opened in 1992 was that none of the food ingredients were to be frozen. They operate over 200 locations with the majority in Japan, a few in Korea, and one just recently opened in Hong Kong.
Known for: High quality “fresh” food. Smaller burger sizes compared to other fast food restaurants.
Unique Item(s): The food is relatively standard, but they do have stuff like a spam and egg burger, interesting condiments like Jamaican Jerk Sauce, fresh lemonade, and offer draft beer.
Lotteria’s Motto: Straight Burger Lotteria
The Basics: The name comes from the parent company, Lotte. Some say Lotteria was just a direct copy off of McDonald’s when they opened in 1972. The color scheme seems to suggest this. However, Lotteria was the one of the first fast food restaurants to create the shrimp burger (1977) Lotteria expanded into Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, and China. Interestingly Lotteria Korea is more popular than Lotteria Japan.
Known for: Burgers, fries, fried chicken, and the 100 yen menu (think dollar menu)
Unique Item(s): The Marugoto potato: they take a whole Japanese potato (one of the only companies to use Japanese potatoes), slice a few wedges into it (not separating it), season it with Japanese salt, and then serve.
Becker’s Motto: Homemade fresh burgers and sandwiches
The Basics: Becker’s is operated by Japan Railways (yes the same people that run the trains and subways in Japan) and freshness is not just their slogan, it’s their way of life. Buns are freshly prepared in the restaurant and if an hour and half goes by and there are still left over buns they toss them. To keep anything that old would be counter to their commitment to freshness.
Known for: Fresh buns, Pork Teriyaki burger, and sometimes the ability to pay with a Suica card (a pre-paid Japan Rail pass).
Unique Item(s): Menchi Burger, minced black pork burger. They also serve poutine, a Canadian dish of french fries with gravy and cheese.
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