The orange signs of Yoshinoya are omnipresent in Tokyo. With close to 800 shops in Japan, Yoshinoa is
one of Japan’s most popular fast food outlets. You can find Yoshinoya from
worker class areas all the way to posh Ginza.
The selection of food is rather limited. The main dish is beef bowl, which
consists mainly of slivers of beef with onion served on rice. The medium bowl
currently goes for yen 280 (about $ 2) and to the basics you can add pickles,
miso soup and salads. You can also add salmon for a "Salmon Set" which
includes salmon, beef bowl, soup, salad and pickles.
Breakfast sets are also available from 05:00 to 10:00. If you are brave (VERY
brave) try the Natto set (fermented bean curd). Most breakfast sets include egg
- of course served raw in a bowl on the side!
From 06:00 to 24:00 beer and sake are also served. There is a limit of three
drinks per person as this is a fast food outlet not a bar. That said in most
Yoshinoya’s you sit at a bar-like counter with one person running around
behind the counter to fetch the food from the kitchen. As with most Japanese
restaurants you pay the cashier, and not the server, after the meal. Your bill
will be placed on the table and adjusted every time you add items to your order
leaving you free to get up, pay and go anytime you are ready. Yoshinoya is fast
food - if you spend more than 15 minutes you are lingering, which is rude if
there is a queue outside. However, if you go outside lunch hour (12:00 - 13:00)
things are much quieter and no one will rush you.
Yoshinoya has picture menus so it is easy to just point. Sometimes the
reverse of the menu is in English but not always. Many of the employees in
Yoshinoya and other fast-food outlets in Japan are students on part time jobs
and many of them speak very good English so try first before going into mime.
Beef bowl in a Yoshinoya will never be confused with a kaiseki dinner in an
expensive restaurant but it does make a more interesting alternative to
McDonalds, the other major player on the bargain fast food field in Tokyo.