Types of restaurants in Japan

I find it fascinating that restaurants have different service models. Service as in:
(1) how to take a seat
(2) how to order
(3) how to get your food
(4) how to pay

In Japan I have experienced a lot of different types of restaurants. In this post I will give you an overview. Enjoy!

Ticket machine restaurant

How to order(2) and pay(4): There is a ticket machine where you can get tickets for different dishes. You put in money for example ramen and a side dish. The machine can give money back, so you don’t need to pay the exact amount.
How to take a seat(1): If the place is not busy, you can just take any seat. Or the waiter will guide you to a seat.
How to get your food(3): the food is made very fast, like ramen or a ‘fast food’ dish. The waitress will bring it to your table.

Self service: Tully’s Coffee, Starbucks

How to order(2) and pay(4): You buy your drinks and food at the counter and you pay there.
How to get your food(3): You wait at the counter till the foods and drinks are made.
How to take a seat(1): After getting your food and drinks, you pick any free seat. In Japan, if it’s very busy, you can already occupy a seat beforehand with you bag or even an tissue pack. People will not steal your stuff.

Full service restaurant (Western style)

How to take a seat(1): When you arrive they ask whether you have a reservation. Your jacket will be taken away from you.You will be guided to your seat.
How to order(2): You will receive two menus: drink and food. You will get some time to pick your drink and food. The waiter will come back to check all the details of what you have ordered. Hot or cold drinks?
How to get your food(3): If you have a course menu, your food will come one by one including the needed cutlery. The waiter pays attention to when you are done with a course. The empty plates and cutlery will be taken away and the next course with cutlery comes. If you are in a teppanyaki or sushi restaurant, the chef will prepare the food in front of you.
How to pay(4): You wave the waiter and you ask for the bill. You pay at your table.

Special restaurants

Sushi belt, Kura Sushi

How to take a seat(1): You get a ticket with a number from a machine, where you can choose “Table seat” or “Counter seat”. The waitress at the counter will call your number and give you a table/seat number. You have to find your table in the maze.
How to order(2): There is a tablet at your table and you can pick your dishes via the tablet.
How to get your food(3): Your dishes will come to you on a conveyor belt. There are two conveyor belts, one goes to every table and you can pick any sushi from there. The top conveyor belt brings the food you have ordered.
How to pay(4): The fun thing of Kura Sushi is that you are cleaning your plates in a playful way (gamify!). There is a gachapon machine (capsule toy machine) at your table and you can put in 5 plates as 1 try to get a toy. The tablet will play a short movie where you will beat the villain (or not). If you beat the villain you will get a toy! I got an ice cream eraser. Simon and Martina have a nice movie about Kura Sushi. When you are done eating, you push a “Call waiter” button on the tablet, the waiter will check the number of plates and extra stuff. She will print a receipt for you. You take this receipt and table number to the counter and pay.

Famous restaurant with waiting line

How to take a seat(1): Wait in line for about 30+ minutes. You will be guided to your seat when there is a free spot. At some restaurants you need to take of your shoes to sit on the floor.
How to order(2): When a restaurant only has a few options, they might already take your order in line. Else, they will take your order after you are seated.
How to get your food(3): The waiter will bring your food.
How to pay(4): When they bring your food, they also give you a (handwritten) receipt. When you are done eating, you go down to the cash register and pay. (If you are sitting on the second floor.)

Every restaurant gives you free water or tea. Except the fancy Kobe Beef restaurant actually…

What do you prefer more? A self service restaurant or full service restaurant?

I am more of the self service: food comes fast, no small talk hassle. Eat and gooooo~ to eat more food. Hehe..
Have a good weekend!

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