It’s Fast or It’s Free: My Three Favorite Fastfood Joints in Tokyo

It's Fast or It's Free: My Three Favorite Fastfood Joints in Tokyo

To expand further on our previous topic of cheap eats in Tokyo, I’d like to take a minute or five to wax poetic over my favorite affordable quick-service restaurant chains that dot streets in Tokyo.


Saizeria is a Japanese-style Italian eatery with two things going for it: delicious and affordable pizza and pasta, and unlimited refills from the drink bar.

The Japanese have a preternatural talent for cooking pasta — I guess it goes hand-in-hand with their national obsession with noodles. The pasta is always al dente and perfectly sauced — not too dry and not too soggy. No matter how traditional (carbonara) or how strange (fish roe in cream sauce) my pasta orders are, they always come out fantastic~

Best of all, you can usually keep your bill under JPY 700, especially if you are sharing plates with friends — this is what most locals do anyway. Keep an eye out for the lines of recently-dismissed high school students looking to save a couple of bucks — you can’t miss them!


Negishi is a yakiniku joint with freaking gigantic servings of roast beef and pork, accompanied by fragrant rice and a myriad of side dishes. This is my favorite dinner stop — especially after a long day of sight-seeing, and all I want to do is stuff my face with meat.

Menfolk — okay, who am I kidding? — everyone will appreciate the generous combination platters where you can get beef, pork, or chicken roasted to perfection for less than JPY 1400. The icing on the cake? Unlimited bowls of perfectly steamed Japanese rice and sticky savory toro — the toro alone is worth the trip to Negishi!


If you think Yoshinoya was the best place to get gyuudon or beef bowls — think again. My personal favorite (which breaks my heart every single time I eat at a local Yoshinoya because Y DIS NOT IN MANILA?!) is Matsuya — a great beef bowl and curry place that you can find on street corners everywhere.

I can’t exactly describe what makes their beef bowl so much better IMO — just that the sauce is more savory than the slightly-too-salty beef bowl broth that Filipinos prefer. I am also partial to their beef curry bowl, which is cheap and cheerful and very filling.

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Tokyo, be kind to your wallet and your tummy, and drop by any of the three places we mentioned above. I promise you it’ll be worth it 🙂

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Hito says:

    Cheap eats? In TOKYO? Blasphemy! I have a feeling, especially with the first one, it’s cheaper than a meal at McDonalds…?

    I like how “fast food joint” is nothing like what one would imagine living in America.


    1. LOL uh yeah with Saizeria we normally run up a bill of about JPY 2400 and split it three or four ways — definitely value for money 😀

      As for the term “fast food” I’m kinda using it loosely? Probably the only thing they have in common with American fast food is the quick serving times ^^;;


  2. minamic says:

    Paul and i still wax poetic over Matsuya, too!!! 😀 and their tonjiru is also really good and flavorful.


    1. Yesssssss the soup is pretty good!


  3. Tiffany says:

    During my first few visits to Japan, I thought that Yoshinoya’s gyudon was the best thing ever. Then I discovered Matsuya and Sukiya, and the rest is history. Personally, I prefer Sukiya’s gyudon to Matsuya’s, especially since the former has some pretty unique takes on gyudon, such as the three-cheese gyudon (my favorite!). I like Matsuya for its curry dishes and kalbi set, though. 😀

    Also, I remember this restaurant chain that served tempura at affordable prices, but alas, the name escapes me. I believe it was Tenya. I loved that they had seasonal tempura sets.

    And lastly, I’ve never eaten at Negishi, so I’m glad that I read your article. I’ll make sure to look for Negishi the next time I visit Japan.


    1. THERE IS A CHEESE GYUDON!?!?!? Σ(゚д゚lll)I want to try that!


      1. Tiffany says:

        Yep! Here’s Sukiya’s menu:


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