The quantity and quality of delectable food in Japan is overwhelming. Everything from the pastries, to the noodles, to the rice bowls, to the Japanese takes on foreign dishes is impeccably made and served with the utmost care. There’s no chance you’ll go hungry in Japan. In fact, walking around Tokyo is simultaneously fascinating and the perfect way to burn off whatever you just ate in preparation for the next incredible meal.
That being said, the one meal I struggle to find when I’m traveling around Japan is breakfast.
I love the traditional Japanese breakfast: miso soup, rice, veggies or pickles, and sausage or grilled fish. These days some Japanese people are adopting a more western style of breakfast that includes toast and fruit, but across the board, miso soup makes the cut for breakfast.
The trouble is, if you’re traveling on a budget and not staying at a hotel that includes breakfast, it can be hard to figure out where to eat for that first/most important meal of the day. Most restaurants don’t serve breakfast, and don’t even open early enough anyway. Many cafes around Japan serve a breakfast set which usually consists of a couple pieces of toast and coffee. For me, that’s just not enough. Protein, please!
When I’m traveling Japan on a budget, there’s one spot that has been a lifesaver for me and my breakfast needs – Matsuya. This fast food style restaurant for the working Japanese is extremely fast, inexpensive, and an interesting place to observe Japanese culture.
It’s fast food, so it won’t be the best meal you eat in Japan, but you really can’t beat the speed and quality of food for the price. It’s also a chain, so no matter where you are in most cities, there’s likely one nearby. Google always knows. The yellow, red, and blue logo make it easy to spot on the street. They even have a website in English, so if you know where you’re staying you can scope out a breakfast location beforehand.
Before you sit down at Matsuya, you buy a ticket for the meal you want to purchase at the machine located either outside or just inside the door. They’ve recently updated their machine to include an English menu, so ordering is very easy! Simply insert your money and choose your meal from the digital menu.
For the salmon breakfast set, which is my favorite, I always choose the beef side. You can also add extras to it such as eggs, sausage, natto (fermented soy beans), and more! After making final selections, grab your ticket, find a seat, and hand your ticket to the employee behind the counter.
Your meal will be served within five minutes, and you can be out the door and onto your next Japan adventure in no time.