Casual Dining / Fast Food, Gourmet Guide

Fami resu is short for "famiri resutoran" or "family restaurant," and refers to large restaurants where you can go with the whole family. Many of them can be found all across Japan, and there are at least 10 or 20 chain family restaurants that everyone knows by name.

Usually, they have large tables with bench-like seats, where about two adults and two to three children can fit. They provide Japanese and Western food from which you can choose. For example, sushi for Grandma, a steak for Dad, pasta for Mom, and omelet rice and curry for the kids. It is great to be able to have dinner together despite eating different kinds of food. And of course, they also have desserts for the children. In recent years, it has become common for family restaurants to have a drink bar and a salad bar in a buffet style where you can get whatever you like. Many places have long business hours, and some are even open 24 hours a day. Prices at family restaurants range from very expensive to reasonable, but it is safe to say that in most cases you can have a meal there for a modest price. The food in most places is mass-produced in a factory someplace else and only warmed up or given the finishing touch in the restaurant. But the good thing about that is that you can enjoy the same taste and price no matter where you go. In Japan, fast food, such as hamburgers or fried chicken, is generally referred to as "fast food" and pronounced "fa-suto fu-do." The hamburger culture in Japan started after World War II, when the first restaurants were built around the United States military bases. In 1971, when the largest hamburger chain in Japan, McDonald's, opened its first store in Ginza, hamburger culture started to spread. That was around the same time when Kentucky Fried Chicken opened its first store in Nagoya, and Mister Donut opened a pilot store in Osaka. All three of them are part of the American culture that came to Japan. Shortly thereafter, Japanese burger chain stores, such as Mos Burger and Lotteria, started to open for business. Now even the foreign burger chains create menus with typical Japanese versions of burgers on them, such as the teriyaki burger. There are also Japanese fast food chains, such as "Yoshinoya," "Sukiya," and "Matsuya" for gyudon (thinly sliced beef over rice), or the curry house "CoCo Ichibanya." There also is "Nakau," which serves rice bowl dishes and udon, and the self-service udon chains "Hanamaru Udon" and "Marugame Seimen." Kaitenzushi, which you can eat as soon as you take a seat, and soba noodles you can eat while standing at soba stalls in train stations, also count as Japanese fast food.

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