Japan is home to a thriving, diverse food culture that can deliver a wide range of delicious foods to those who explore its culinary selections. What is most impressive about Japan’s food scene is its combination of unique traditional Japanese flavors with Western influences. Japan takes the best of the West and makes it uniquely theirs.
We’ve found the 5 best burger chains in Japan for you to try out during your visit. The burger chain is quintessentially Western, as America has given birth a myriad, most notably McDonald’s, Burger King, and In-n-Out. This list is Japan’s unique versions that you’re sure to love.
MOS Burger is the second-largest burger chain in Japan, trailing McDonald’s. Established in 1972 by Atsushi Sakurada, there are over 1,500 MOS Burger restaurants primarily in Japan, but also a handful of stores in Australia and the Philippines.
MOS Burger is heavily influenced by Western burger culture, originating from Sakurada’s life in Los Angeles in the 1960s. You’ll find your usual Beef; Chicken Burgers, but for the more adventurous, MOS has unique, unusual, and unconventional burgers for you to explore.
MOS Burger’s full menu boasts a large catalog of burgers, drinks, sides, desserts, and hot dogs. Their signature burger is the Rice Burger, which utilizes rice instead of the traditional hamburger bun, and can be served with chicken or beef.
There’s plenty of interesting and delicious diversifications at MOS. Cheeseburgers come served with a thick-sliced tomato, there’s a range of burgers served on lettuce instead of buns, Soy Burgers offer a vegan alternative, along with shrimp and pork offering new meat options not usually available.
Burgers can be purchased within a value set, with chicken, onion rings, fries, or salad as sides, and a drink of your choice. Drinks are what really set Japan’s burger scene apart from their Western influence.
Yuzu ginger ale, melon soda, an array of soups, oolong tea, and pear milkshakes promise a unique accompaniment to your meal.
Breakfast options are limited, as a ‘start your day’ meal provides one slice of toast, a solitary poached egg, and bacon. The only other breakfast item is a bacon, lettuce, and tomato burger, so perhaps MOS isn’t the place to go for breakfast.
However, it is the perfect place to go for a cheap lunch or dinner. For example, a MOS beef rice burger, with a side of large fries and Pepsi, will set you back only 1,230 Yen, the equivalent of $10.78USD (tax included).
MOS Burger Japan Official Website
As the third-largest chain in Japan, Lotteria offers a more traditionally Western experience. Spreading to China, South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar, Lotteria is a highly popular franchise established in 1972, by Shin Kyuk-ho.
The Korean entrepreneur opened his first restaurant in Tokyo and introduced a more simplified menu to Japan’s burger cuisine. Among the most popular is the “Exquisite Cheeseburger”. No, that’s not us complimenting it, “exquisite” is the literal translation of its name.
With a smaller menu, Lotteria makes your decision a bit easier. The Cheeseburger, Chicken, and Bacon Cheeseburger ranges will deliver a delicious meal similar to your conventional American burger. Shrimp, Soy, and Soft-boiled Egg Burgers add a more uniquely Japanese flavor.
For a limited time, Rice Burgers are also on offer at selected Lotteria restaurants, in Shrimp or Cheeseburger styles. For breakfast only, you can grab a Sausage Sandwich or Chicken Cheeseburger, along with the usual toast, or even a regular Cheeseburger.
Burgers can be complemented by a side and drink in a meal “set”, with fries, fried chicken, salad, or onion rings providing the perfect snack. Besides a variety of Japanese sodas like Pepsi and Ginger Ale, Lotteria supplies a range of coffee, tea, bubble tea, soup, and hot chocolate beverages.
Just as with most Japanese food options, Lotteria is exceedingly affordable. Burger meal sets start as low as ¥500 ($4.38USD) and the most expensive option comes in at a mere ¥1,276 ($11.18USD).
Established in 1992, Japan’s fourth-largest burger chain is growing fast with a more upmarket approach to fast food. With 189 Japanese locations, and expansion into Hong Kong and Singapore, Freshness Burger, usually referred to as simply “Freshness”, promises a unique burger experience.
Freshness’ signature burger is the Classic Avocado Cheeseburger, which utilizes the brilliant simplicity of a traditional cheeseburger, and adds a fresh flavor with avocado and salad. Avocado also accompanies the Freshness Soy Burger but can be ordered without avocado.
Freshness Burger’s full menu presents traditional Chicken, Fish, and Cheeseburgers, but sets itself apart with a range of unique, unorthodox, and distinctive burgers. Among them is the Salsa, Garden Salad (which includes coleslaw and pickled beetroot), and the Teriyaki Burgers.
What makes Freshness truly unique is their store limited burgers. Many of the individual restaurants have their own exclusive burger. Shisu outlets offer a Peanut Butter Burger, whilst the PayPay Dome is home to a Spam Burger. The Jingu Stadium restaurant has the Home Run Burger, which stacks 4 beef patties with salad and cheese.
The large catalog of store-exclusive burgers really can’t be summarised in this one article, so just make sure to keep an eye out for the specialty burgers at the Freshness Burger location you visit.
Freshness presents a more sophisticated experience at their restaurants with pasta and salad options, along with the Freshness Bar, which serves beer, wine, and spirits past 4:00 pm. The bar also offers bar entrees such as cold sliced meats, fried chicken wings, loaded fries, and sausages.
The premium options of Freshness do come at a cost though. The Classic Avocado Cheeseburger costs ¥1,280 ($11.21USD) as a meal with a side and beverage, one of the cheaper items. The most expensive will set you back ¥1,990 ($17.43), still very reasonable for a premium and fresh meal.
Freshness Burger Japan Official Website
As the sixth-largest Japanese burger chain, First Kitchen provides quite possibly the most unique experience out of these 5 burger chains. With 136 stores across Japan, the 44-year-old franchise is currently owned by Wendy’s Japanese branch. Stores are distinguished by the “FK” acronym and bright orange signage.
First Kitchen is much more than a burger chain, as its menu was broadened to include pizza, pasta, and fried chicken. Their signature flavored French Fries, labeled “flavor potato”, attract many customers locally and from abroad.
A Hamburger or Cheeseburger is just about the only conventional meal you will find at First Kitchen. Bacon and Egg Burgers are served with Tartare sauce, the cheese is deep-fried on the Classic Cheeseburger, Chicken Burgers use Tatsuta sauce – unique to Japan, and Shrimp Burgers dominate the menu.
Pasta is a popular menu item at First Kitchen, with Carbonara, Bacon and Avocado Genovese, Beef Cheek, Aged Hakata Mentaiko (fermented Japanese fruits), and Tomato Sauce with Mozzarella and Bacon on the menu. At around ¥700 ($6.13USD), FK’s pasta provides a great cheap option for dinner.
First Kitchen is also equipped to pair your meal with an alcoholic beverage, but if it’s a bit too early for that, you can indulge in bubble tea, hot and cold tea, and coffee, lemonade, or orange juice. No sodas are available apart from lemonade, so steer clear if you’re in search of cola.
First Kitchen Japan Official Website
Finally, DomDom’s 70 stores rank it the seventh-largest burger chain in Japan, but it is the pioneer of Japan’s burger culture. In 1970, DomDom burger emerged as the first burger chain in Japan. Whilst it hasn’t grown as rapidly as other chains, DomDom truly paved the way for Japan’s newer burger chains.
DomDom offers the “Dom Burgers”, which with beef, salad, and cheese, resemble a whopper from Burger King. Their Cheeseburger and Hamburger are also heavily Western-influenced, and their buns are the only on this list that uses sesame seeds.
The normality ends there, however, as DomDom’s dwindling popularity has called for drastic measures on their menu. Most prominent is the Whole Flatfish Burger, that yes, truly does come with a whole deep-fried fish placed between coleslaw and sesame seed buns, which appeal more to Japanese patrons.
Shrimp is also a mainstay of DomDom’s menu, along with egg, Teriyaki, and Japan’s famous Okonomiyaki, all on burgers. The sides are also unconventional, as the traditional French Fries are accompanied by bean paste buns, Burdock stick (a vegan alternative for chicken), and buttered corn.
DomDom is the least expensive option on this list, with the lowest priced burger meal costing only ¥600 ($5.26USD), and the most expensive meal, the Flatfish Burger with sides and drink, will only set you back ¥1,040 ($9.12USD). Check out DomDom for a taste of history, that is amazingly cheap.