Japanese Fast Food

LawsonsWhile I loved the fine dining of Japan, it was also fun to try out the simple stuff from the corner store or little hole in the wall. Sometimes, I just walked by something that looked interesting, and figured, “why not try this?” It was fun to go into the little 7 Elevens and try out new treats. Here’s our group in the parking lot of a convenience store sampling the packaged ice cream. I didn’t check out the McDonalds, Baskin’ Robbins, or other American chain restaurants, because these ones were much better treats from the street:


Japanese people love ramen shops. They are set up in a really interesting way. Even though they are full restaurants, you start by ordering from a machine on the street, putting your money into a little slot.

Ordering Ramen

Ramen ShopIt was cheap (less than $10 for a plate of dumplings, huge bowl of soup, and rice) — but still a bit strange to order from a machine. There was no robot making the food. The machine printed out a little receipt, and then you brought that inside, sat down, and gave it to the waiter. A few minutes later, he brought your food over, and you could eat and leave whenever (because you already paid at the machine).  Yum! The soup was gigantic and delicious.

Ramen and Dumplings

Chunky Beverages

In addition to the food from machines, it was fun to try new beverages in cans and bottles. Sometimes, I could tell what I was getting, and sometimes I couldn’t. I decided not to try the Salt and Fruit drink here.

Salt and Fruit

I did try a bunch of new juices. It was common for juices to have chunks in them! Sometimes, they seemed like pieces of fruit, but other times they were like little pieces of jello in your drink. Kind of strange to the unaccustomed taste buds, but I liked it.

Some sort of sweet (I have no idea what it’s called)

I got to see these cookie type things being made, but I don’t know the name:

Fried Foods

I saw lots of deep fried foods. How can you go wrong, really? Except that fried chicken for breakfast is a little bizarre.


Food Courts

In Kushiro, we had dinner in a place called Moo, which was sort of like a food court. There were lots of little restaurants, and you ordered up there, and then sat anywhere. There was also a place like this 6 floors under a department store in Tokyo. Both were quick and yummy.


At the one in Kushiro, they had a machine where you could put in a dollar and get a fortune. Here’s our group crowded around our translator, Hatagami San, finding out what it said.

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 7.54.52 AM

I’m sorry that you can’t eat this from the screen:


Weird Flavored Caramels

My personal favorite snack was caramel. Since Hokkaido has a lot of dairy cows, milk caramel was very common. And so good. And so many flavors.


They even had lamb flavored caramels! Gross! I bought some and brought some home if you want to try it. But I wouldn’t recommend it.

Lamb Flavored Caramel

Personally, I liked the local caramels better than the green tea Kit Kats.

Green Tea Kit KatsPlastic Food

Doesn’t this look good?

Plastic Food Close Up

Don’t get too excited. It’s plastic! It was common on the street to see these in restaurant windows. They show off what the food would look like if you ordered it, and are VERY helpful if you don’t read Japanese. But you probably wouldn’t want to eat the displays.

Plastic Food

Want to see more? 

I’ve already written about green tea / sweet potato ice cream swirl and conveyor belt sushi, which would both fit into the fast food category. And look out for a post on school lunches coming soon. I’ve got to get all of these Japan posts up, because my second trip of the summer is coming up. I leave for Iceland on Saturday!

Categories: Japan

37 replies »

  1. I heard that the menu at McDonalds was very different in other countries. If you get a chance can you see what kind of things they serve at the Japanese McDonalds?

    • Your trip to Japan seemed really fun! I liked the way you were able to order from the machine because when you were finished eating you could just leave and didn’t need to wait for your bill. What was your favorite food in Japan? I think I would have liked the milk caramel the most.

  2. All of these foods look so good!!!!
    I want to try the Ramen food so bad! Also, the way you purchase your food is really smart and convenient. It’s also smart how they show the fake food to restaurant customers so they can see what it looks like.
    I love those chunky beverages, I used to have them all the time when I was little! I’m happy that you liked them.
    I’m curious, how do the Japanese eat their caramel? Do they spread them on other foods? Like we do with bread and butter? Also, which caramel flavor was your favorite?

  3. Ya’ know, the fake plastic food reminds me of commercials of restaurants in america because the commercials show a (example) huge hunk of lobster, but when you order the lobster, it looks like a shriveled up shrimp. The commercials in America also uses dramatization of the food. Like “Juicy irresistible lobster fresh from the sea” you are like …Must eattttt…. especially when you are hungry. Like the time I was hungry but still watching TV. Then a lobster commercial came on and I was like No FAIR that was the first commercial to catch my eye because I was hungry. They made it worst my dramatizing the flavor of the food. So basically I ended up eating at their restaurant. Same at Japan, they display a 95% realistic lookn’ of rice or noodles or whatever the delicious hunk sitting there and attract people, especially those hard working people who work in a dang cubicle for 8hs going without food just ’cause the doggone vender machine isn’t workn’ all ’cause their doggone boss hasn’t fixed it. And now your boss’s status has changed into a NOT vender machine fixing guy. So when the guy who is starving sees that bowl of noodles he 100% will guaranteed to buy the noodles. If it is similar to America’s commercials, the plastic food might not be the exact same as the real thing. It either may be delicious or not so good. IF it is similar to America’s commercial idea then the hard workn’ guy will have to eat his wife’s food. But UNFORTUNATELY HIS WIFE ISN’T A GOOD COOK. So I really do hope Japan’s plastic display idea isn’t similar to America’s food commercials. 🙂

    • That’s funny, Khanh. It’s true — the plastic foods are similar to the way commercials try to entice us to buy their food. I sure do get tempted by those Red Lobster commercials!

  4. The trip to Japan sound so fun! It seems like Japan is a great place to try new and unique foods that taste great! In your post I saw some similarities between Japan’s food and habits and the U.S.A.’s foods and habits. One example was the ramen food. It reminded me of our drive through restaurants. It is quick and easy. Another similarities was the brands. I noticed that in Japan they have Kit Kats and Minuet Made drinks. A difference was that they put plastic food in their windows. Here I think the food in our windows is real for the most part. Another difference was that you could pay to have a fortune card. Here at Chinese restaurants you get fortune cookies included with your meal.

  5. That’s so cool that you got to go to Japan. I have wanted to go to japan to see what food they have. But I wouldn’t eat the kit Kats there green! But what is it like there?

  6. That is so cool! Did any of the food in Japan taste like food here in America ? Now I want to go to Hokkaido to try some new caramels but if you have some lamb left, no thank you.

  7. All the food looks amazing and delicious. I wasn’t surprised that there were little pieces of fruit in some drinks but jello?! I kind of want to try that. Also I can’t believe that there is a drink called “Salt and Fruit”. In my opinion that doesn’t sound very appetizing.

  8. All of those foods/drinks seem very delicious! The foods in the pictures seem like things people in Japan would cook in their homes. When you went to eat at the fast food places did you ever wonder if the foods and drinks that you tried were any healthier than the foods and drinks that are served at the American fast food restaurants? When you tried ordering at the machines did you observe that the process was faster or slower than when ordering through a drive through, like at McDonalds or Burger King?

  9. I think that Japan would be really fun to go to! In some ways, Japan is very very similar to the United States, like food courts. But at the same time, Japan has different things, like chunky drinks, lamb caramel, green tea flavored kit kats, and even plastic food! I was wondering, does the Japanese food taste anything like it does here? In health class this past year, Marge told us a Chinese student at IACS had told her none of our American imitation of Chinese food was anything like the food in China, so I didn’t know if that was the same for Japan.

    • I think they serve different food there because we serve what people want to get fast and other countries serve what they want to eat fast

  10. I would have loved to explore food in Japan because I love sushi! I hope you got to try different types of sushi while you were there. I think the idea of ordering from the machine is much faster because then you do not have to wait at the end to pay your bill and you can leave when you are done. I think a dollar for a fortune was a little overpriced but it it was fun then I guess it was worth it. I agree that lamb flavored caramel is disgusting but I do like regular caramels.

  11. It seems like ‘fast food’ is a little different in Japan than it is here in the US. I wonder if it’s faster to order from a machine than it would be at a drive up restaurant, like McDonald’s or Burger King.
    Do you think that the Japanese eat healthier than Americans do? Do they have healthier choices?

  12. I think the ramen shops are really cool! I think ordering from the machines outside would be really fun. I think the food looks good but chunky beverages definitely don’t sound good to me ( aloe and white grape-GROSS)! I think ill pass on the lamb flavored caramels.

  13. I thought seeing different types of food from the other side of the world was really fun and interesting. It was really cool to see that Japan has Green Tea flavored Kit Kat bars. I can’t even imagine having to order food from a vending machine!

  14. Visting Japan sounds like fun! The food seems yummy and somewhat healthier than most foods that are common where we live. I wonder if the “American” fast food places ( McDonalds, Burger king etc.) are any different than our fast food places(the menu)?

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