Yikes… You’re in Japan but you don’t like Japanese food? Have fun starving to death… Just kidding. For such a homogeneous nation, there are a plethora of different dining options if you don’t like Japanese food. Do be warned, however, that many of these places may not serve Japanese food, but the dishes are still catered to a Japanese palate. To me, these kinds of dishes feel like you’re eating a muted version of the original.
For whatever reason, you may not want Japanese food while in Japan. I heard about this happening to people. I thought this concept was crazy, until I moved to Japan. Then, I inexplicably started craving McDonald’s and pizza all the time. (It’s the American in me, I guess…)
Fast Food Chains
These places have become my new form of comfort food. I try not to need comfort food too often, because I’ll end up gaining a bunch of weight. Fast food chains, especially those that didn’t originate in Japan, tend to stay pretty close to their originals. A few menu items may be added or removed, but the overall flavor is there.
The standards for me are: McDonald’s, Burger King, and Lotteria (a Korean company, I believe). Others include Mos Burger (though I feel the flavor is a bit too “Japanese” for me), KFC, Freshness Burger, and Taco Bell. I actually recently tried out the new Panda Express and it was just like home!
Japan has a lot of foreign cuisine restaurants, but most are owned by Japanese people. This is unfortunate, because I feel like it takes away from a lot of the original cuisine’s flavors. However, there are a few restaurants that are foreign-owned, and stay pretty true to their home country’s flavors. I find the best at this is Indian cuisine. I haven’t yet come across an Indian place not run by an Indian family, but a few places make their curries extra sweet for Japanese customers.
A good second is English pubs. Now, English people aren’t exactly known for their cuisine, but their pub food is really good. And a lot of the local pubs (not the HUB chain) run by expats provide accurate flavors. On that note, expat bars also have flavors you may be used to at home, mainly because these people are probably from where you’re from, or nearby at least.
I considered putting Saizeriya on this list, but it’s definitely Japanese-Italian food. But there’s a lot of cheese, so it’d be worth checking out if you see one around.
While I would give almost anything to eat at a real diner, the Japanese ones aren’t that bad. Out of everything on the list, it’s the category that tastes the least like the original, but it’s definitely not Japanese food.
I recommend Johnathan’s, Denny’s, and Cafe Gusto. Especially with Denny’s, don’t expect to get the same sketchy 3 AM diner feel you will in America, but is that really a bad thing? And most of these places have drink bars (apart from melon soda, drinks are essentially the same), so it’s good for just hanging out relaxing with friends… What’s more diner than that?
Do you have any other spots you go to when you’re not feeling Japanese food? Is there somewhere that I should definitely check out? Let me know below!