The Fastest of Japanese Fast Foods: Kaitenzushi, Gyudon & Curry Rice
Kaitenzushi, the top speed winner
How do you define fast food? Let’s not think in categories such as burgers and fries, but consider what the fastest foods are you can order in a restaurant.
Sushi is prepared very quickly and kaitenzushi is already waiting for you to take from the conveyor belt and eat. So as the fastest Japanese food, kaitenzushi is definitely the winner. There are individual sushi shops in the kaitenzushi style everywhere in Japan and several big kaitenzushi chains, for example Kappa Sushi, Sushiro, and Kura Sushi.
Kaitenzushi often includes also small bowls of soup, egg rolls, and some non-sushi foods such as sweets. They will also be on the conveyor belt for you to pick up. Many kaitenzushi places also have hot water on tab at the counter for you to prepare yourself a cup of tea in an instant. In the summer cold tea might also be on tab. Just take a cup and fill it.
Nearly as fast: Gyudon and Curry Rice
Gyudon style dishes are also extremely fast. Rice and topping are all cooked and hot. When you give your order the staff will just take a portion for you. There are other donburi like rice dishes, for example tendon rice with tempura, but this must be the fastest among them. Fast and inexpensive, gyudon is very popular and there are several chains selling gyudon, such as Sukiya, Yoshinoya, and Matsuya.
Usually you can also order curry rice at gyudon shops. And when ranking the foods by speed, curry rice is about as fast as a bowl of gyudon. The rice is hot, the curry cooked. Staff only has to fill your plate with it. There is nothing wrong with this. Think of it as coming to someone’s house and they have a big pot of hot soup on the stove waiting for you.
Options for gyudon and curry are usually portion size (small, medium, big, extra-big), topping, and side menu. For gyudon, popular toppings include raw egg or soft-boiled egg, cheese, and onion. For curry rice, available toppings depend on the store and are often deep-fried. As a side to gyudon or curry you can order also small portions of salad, pickles, miso soup, or tofu.
If you are looking for fast service at top speed though, just go with the most popular menu items without too many extras. Of course, these kind of places not only serve your food fast, they also expect you to pay and give your seat to the next person in line fast.