You Always Win at Lotteria

Japan has McDonald’s and Burger King in every major city, making fast-food burgers and fries an easy thing to find, even halfway across the world from home. But if you’re looking for the best fast-food burger experience in Japan, bypass the golden arches in favor of Japan’s own Lotteria.

Lotteria (1)

The Lotteria menu will look familiar to any fast-food fan. It features several burgers (including one that’s meat-cheese-and-bun, for those who like a burger plain, in addition to offerings with the “standard” condiments and veggies). Fries, chicken nuggets, sodas, and shakes are also easy to find on the picture-filled menu.

The small, plain burger is my favorite. It may not look like much (as the photo below attests) but it’s absolutely delicious.

Lotteria Burger (1)

The patty is thick and juicy, the cheese is melted perfectly, and the burger has just the right amount of salt and–surprise!–pepper too! Seasoning is something few American fast food chains pay much attention to (aside from salt) and the burger at Lotteria is evidence of how fantastic even a simple patty can be when it’s properly seasoned.

Lotteria’s fries will please any french-fry lover. They’re crispy, hot, and salty in exactly the right proportions:

Lotteria Meal (1)

You can find Lotteria in just about any major Japanese city. Many of the dining areas in major train stations have them, too–I’ve eaten at the ones in Tokyo Station, Kyoto Station (look for it underground, in the dining and shopping mall adjacent to the station) and in one of the major underground stations in the Osaka area.

An added bonus for Western travelers: Lotteria’s most popular menu items (and meal sets) are displayed (with photos) on placemat-style plastic menus that sit beside the register, so ordering requires no Japanese. Pointing to the meal you want will get you fed, regardless of your linguistic ability (or lack thereof).

That said, if you can manage onegaishimasu (please), good manners are always in style.

If you like fast food (or you’re traveling with kids who do) take a chance on Lotteria. From a fast-food dining perspective, it’s a winner every time.