My initial thoughts about going to McDonald’s in Japan were not favorable. After all, there are plenty of McDonald’s at home and I would much rather have authentic local food. However, after I was out late in Kyoto and hadn’t eaten, I went to McDonald’s out of desperation. And I’m so glad I did (in fact, I now hit up a McDonald’s Japan at least once on every trip).
The Meals are Cheap.
Much like McDonald’s in other parts of the world, McDonald’s Japan serves cheap meals and large portions. For those traveling on a budget, this can be very appealing. In fact, a cheeseburger is around 100 Yen (that’s less than 1 U.S. Dollar) and a Big Mac is about 375 Yen (or around $3.60 U.S.).
McDonald’s Japan has a Unique Menu.
While you can find typical McDonald’s food like Big Macs on the menu, McDonald’s Japan has Japan-specific options that you can’t find anywhere else in the world, like the Teriyaki Burger (my personal favorite). Another great choice is the Potato, Bacon and Cheese Pie (sort of like a McDonald’s apple pie in the U.S. except with different filling). On my next trip, I plan to sample the Manhattan Burger, which is mozzarella cheese, lettuce, onion, sour cream sauce, pastrami and a beef patty.
McDonald’s Japan also has a seasonal menu. Restaurants serve holiday-specific options, like the black Halloween hamburger (the contents are dyed with charcoal). They also have limited-time items that reflect the four seasons, such as Chocolate-covered French Fries, which is McDonald’s fries drizzled with warm milk and white chocolate sauces (quite delicious on a cold Tokyo winter day, not to mention it saves you the step of dipping your fries into your chocolate shake!), and Summer has delicious options like the Citrus Cheesecake McFlurry.
Expect Great Customer Service.
Unlike many fast-food joints I have experienced elsewhere, service in McDonald’s Japan is great. In true Japanese fashion, the service is prompt and friendly, the food hot and fresh, and my order has been right every single time. While the lines move quickly (because there will be a line), I don’t feel rushed to order.
McDonald’s Japan is More Than Just Convenient.
Unlike some other local restaurants, McDonald’s is easy to spot, with its recognizable golden arches and well-lit storefronts. And once you get there, ordering is easy because the menu has numbered pictures, allowing you to just point to your selection, so you don’t need to know any Japanese to order. (Food names are in both English and Japanese, but descriptions aren’t, so the pictures can really help). McDonald’s Japan restaurants are also typically open later than other local shops, making them a convenient option for travelers (and they have free wifi). And if that’s not convenient enough, McDonald’s Japan now delivers!
If You Want to Eat Like a Local, Eat at McDonald’s Japan.
Perhaps it is because of the fact that travelers want to experience authentic Japanese food, that they end up missing out on an only-in-Japan menu. While McDonald’s Japan is very popular (especially with teenagers, much like anywhere else), the popularity lies mainly with locals (in fact, when I go I rarely see any non-Japanese patrons). This also probably explains the great Japanese customer service, the quality of their food, and the convenience of their menu and locations (all major cities have them, as does Narita Airport).
So, on your next trip to Japan, check out McDonald’s. It’s a delicious, budget-friendly way to eat like a local.