16 Best Japanese Restaurant Chains in the US
Japanese food has quickly become one of the most popular ethnic cuisines in the United States.
When you think about Japanese food, sushi might be the first dish that comes to mind, but there is a wide range of other dishes to enjoy.
There are many amazing Japanese restaurant chains in the United States, offering a wide range of menu items, from sushi to ramen to udon to takoyaki.
In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the best Japanese chain restaurants in the US, each offering its delicious take on Japanese food.
So no matter what subvariety of Japanese cuisine you’re looking for, you’re sure to find a new favorite restaurant on our list!
Benihana is one of the oldest Japanese restaurant chains to open in the United States and popularized the teppanyaki-style restaurant in America.
There are over 75 Benihana locations in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The first Benihana location was opened by Hiroake “Rocky” Aoki, a Japanese-American amateur wrestler, in 1964 in New York City.
In 1965, renowned food critic Clementine Paddleford gave Benihana a rave review in the New York Herald Tribune, which attracted famous faces like Muhammad Ali and the Beatles to the restaurant.
The menu at Benihana features a variety of classic Japanese American dishes, most of which are prepared by hibachi chefs on grills right at your table.
One of the most famous dishes at Benihana is hibachi chicken rice, a fried rice dish made with rice, grilled chicken, egg, chopped vegetables, and their signature garlic butter.
Another signature dish at Benihana is the hibachi steak, made from New York strip steak and mushrooms and grilled to perfection right before your eyes.
Sushiritto is a Bay Area-based Japanese fusion restaurant chain famous for serving gigantic burrito-sized sushi.
There are over 10 Sushiritto locations, all of which are in California.
The first Sushiritto location was opened by Peter Yen in San Francisco in 2011.
Sushiritto combines two of the most popular kinds of food in the Bay Area, sushi and burritos, and was the first restaurant of its kind.
The menu at Sushiritto features a wide variety of Japanese-Latin fusion sushi burritos.
One of the most popular sushirittos is the Sumo Crunch, made with shrimp tempura, surimi crab, cucumbers, red tempura flakes, sriracha aioli, sushi rice, and nori, and is served with ginger guacamole.
Another fan-favorite sushiritto for those who don’t like raw fish is the Salmon Samba.
It is made with teriyaki-baked salmon, tempura asparagus, pickled cucumbers, green leaf lettuce, pumpkin seeds, Japanese 7-spice, sushi rice, and nori, and served with ginger guacamole.
14. Sushi Roku
Sushi Roku is a West Coast-based upscale fusion restaurant chain specializing in sushi.
There are six Sushi Roku locations in Arizona, California, and Nevada.
Sushi Roku was created to blend the artistry of traditional Japanese sushi with non-traditional ingredients from Latin America and Europe.
The Sushi Roku menu features a variety of handcrafted sushi rolls and sashimi.
One of the most popular signature rolls at Sushi Roku is the Katana roll, which comes with eight pieces filled with spicy tuna and shrimp tempura and topped with tuna, yellowtail, and spicy aioli.
Another popular signature roll at Sushi Roku is the baked crab hand roll, which is filled with fresh crab and wrapped with rice paper.
Sushi Roku also serves a variety of fresh sashimi, including crab, freshwater eel, octopus, salmon, sea urchin, tuna belly, and wagyu beef.
Yoshinoya is one of the oldest Japanese restaurant chains in the US, specializing in Gyudon beef bowls.
There are over 100 Yoshinoya locations in the United States, all of which are in California.
The first Yoshinoya was opened by Eikichi Matsuda in Nihonbashi Fish Market in Tokyo, Japan, in 1899.
The first Yoshinoya in the United States opened almost 100 years later, in 1979, in Los Angeles, California.
The menu at Yoshinoya revolves around rice bowls, which are topped with your choice of protein and vegetables.
The most popular rice bowl at Yoshinoya is the Gyudon beef bowl, topped with thin ribbons of Gyudon beef and chopped onions simmered in a sweet and savory soy broth.
Yoshinoya also offers a variety of other proteins that you can top your rice bowl with, including teriyaki chicken, teriyaki grilled ribeye, orange chicken, and habanero chicken.
Ootoya is a casual dining restaurant chain specializing in serving homestyle Japanese cuisine.
There are three Ootoya locations in the United States, all of which are in New York City.
The first Ootoya location opened in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City in 2012.
The menu at Ootoya features homestyle Japanese cooking inspired by “ofukuro no aji,” which translates to “taste of mom’s home cooking.”
Ootoya does serve more well-recognized Japanese dishes like sushi and sashimi.
However, the real star of the menu is teishoku, which is like a rice bowl.
To order your teishoku, first, you’ll choose an entree, including options like grilled salmon, chicken katsu, washu beef sukiyaki, tonkatsu curry, and vegetable curry.
Then, you’ll choose a side of rice, a dressing, and optional add-ons like pork gyoza, beef potato croquettes, sashimi, edamame, and onsen-poached eggs.
11. Jinya Ramen Bar
Jinya Ramen Bar is a casual dining restaurant chain specializing in ramen.
There are almost 50 Jinya Ramen Bar locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Washington DC.
The first Jinya Ramen Bar was opened by Tomo Takahashi in Tokyo, Japan, in 2000.
When Takahashi moved to California in 2010, he was disappointed that he couldn’t find an authentic, quality ramen restaurant, so he decided to bring Jinya to the US.
Of course, the menu at Jinya Ramen Bar revolves around slow-cooked, traditional Japanese ramen.
The signature ramen at Jinya Ramen Bar is the Jinya Tonkotsu Black, made with pork broth.
It contains pork chasu, kikurage, green onion, nori, garlic chips, garlic oil, fried onion, a seasoned egg, and thin ramen noodles.
Another popular option at Jinya Ramen Bar is the Jinya Chicken Ramen, made with chicken broth, chicken chasu, spinach, green onion, fried onion, and thin ramen noodles.
Gindaco is a Japanese fast food restaurant specializing in takoyaki.
There are three Gindaco locations in the United States, all of which are in California.
Gindaco has been one of Japan’s most popular fast food restaurants for years and has locations in other Asian countries like Japan, China, Thailand, and Malaysia.
For those who have never heard of takoyaki, it’s a spherical battered dough ball filled with grilled octopus and topped with glaze, kewpie mayonnaise, seaweed, and dried bonito flakes.
The Gindaco menu features various flavors of takoyaki.
The most classic variety is the Original Takoyaki, which comes with eight crisp, golden takoyaki, served with takoyaki glaze, seaweed, and bonito flakes.
However, another of the most popular takoyakis at Gindaco is the Cheese and Mentaiko Takoyaki, topped with teriyaki sauce, mentaiko mayo, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, and dried parsley flakes.
In addition to takoyaki, Gindaco also serves yakisoba, a popular Japanese noodle dish stir-fried with vegetables and a tangy sauce served with pickled ginger, bonito flakes, and dried seaweed.
9. CoCo Ichibanya
CoCo Ichibanya is a Japanese casual dining restaurant chain specializing in Japanese curry rice.
There are six CoCo Ichibanya locations in the United States, one in Texas and the rest in California.
The first CoCo Ichibanya was opened in Nagoya, Japan, in 1978 and quickly became one of the most popular restaurant chains in Japan.
The first CoCo Ichibanya location in the United States opened in Oahu, Hawaii, in 1994.
However, that location has since closed.
The menu at CoCo Ichibanya revolves around Japanese curry, one of the most popular comfort foods in Japan.
Japanese curry is a rich, savory sauce often served with different meats, vegetables, and omelets over a bed of rice.
CoCo Ichibanya offers a ton of different accompaniments to their famous curry sauce, including pork cutlets, fried chicken, beef, vegetables, stewed shrimp, and a whopping eight different kinds of omelets.
8. Beard Papa’s
Beard Papa’s is a Japanese bakery and cafe chain specializing in cream puffs.
There are over 40 Beard Papa’s locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Texas, and Washington.
The first Beard Papa’s location was opened by Yuji Hirota in Osaka, Japan, in 1999.
Beard Papa’s got its name from Hirota, whose distinctive fluffy beard and delicious cream puff recipe made him beloved among all the neighborhood children, who called him “Beard Papa.”
The cream puffs at Beard Papa’s are made using a secret recipe that incorporates a layer of puff-choux on the outside and a layer of pie crust on the inside, with a fluffy filling of whipped cream and vanilla custard cream.
The Beard Papa’s menu features many different flavors of cream puff.
You can choose from eight different shell flavors at Beard Papa’s: original, chocolate eclair, green tea eclair, honey butter, crispy almond, Oreo cookie crumble eclair, strawberry eclair, and s’mores eclair.
Then, you can choose from three different fillings: original, green tea, and chocolate.
Gyu-Kaku is a Japanese casual dining restaurant chain specializing in yakiniku, or Japanese BBQ.
There are over 60 Gyu-Kaku locations in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
The first Gyu-Kaku location opened in Japan in the 1990s, quickly becoming one of the country’s most popular yakiniku chains.
Yakiniku, or Japanese BBQ, allows you to grill your own meats, seafood, vegetables, and desserts on specially designed in-table roasters and vent smoke through carefully placed air openings.
At Gyu-Kaku, you can order from an a la carte menu of different meats, seafood, and veggies.
Or, on weekdays, you can order from Gyu-Kaku’s all-you-can-eat menu, where you can enjoy as much J-BBQ as your stomach can hold!
Popular meats at Gyu-Kaku include their prime kalbi short rib, harami skirt steak, and pork belly.
Popular seafoods include miso butter salmon, garlic shrimp, and BBQ calamari miso.
Finally, their popular veggies include shishito peppers, zucchini, asparagus, and garlic mushrooms.
6. Afuri Ramen
Afuri Ramen is a Japanese casual dining restaurant chain specializing in ramen and dumplings.
There are four Afuri Ramen locations in California and Oregon.
The first Afuri Ramen location in the US opened in Portland, Oregon, in 2016.
Afuri Ramen was named after Mount Afuri, a mountain in the Kanagawa prefecture of Japan.
The geography of Mount Hood in Oregon closely resembles the geography of the Mount Afuri area, making it easy to replicate the quality of Japanese Afuri ramen using local ingredients and water.
The menu at Afuri Ramen revolves around various traditional and innovative ramen bowls.
Afuri Ramen’s signature ramen is the yuzu shio, made with shio tare, chicken broth, yuzu, bamboo shoots, egg, chasu pork, endive, fried garlic, and nori.
For those who don’t eat meat, Afuri Ramen also offers a vegan option, the Hazelnut Tantanmen, which is made with spicy miso tare, hazelnut broth, bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, leeks, and miso cashew crumbles.
5. Marugame Udon
Marugame Udon is a Japanese casual dining chain restaurant specializing in udon and tempura.
There are over 10 Marugame Udon locations in California, Hawaii, and Texas.
The first Marugame Udon opened in Kakogawa City, Japan, in 2000 and quickly expanded to over 1,000 locations in 13 countries.
The first Marugame Udon location in the United States opened almost ten years later in Waikiki, Hawaii.
The Marugame Udon menu revolves around different delicious variations of udon noodles.
One of the most popular udons at Marugame Udon is the nikutama, made with handmade udon noodles, sweet and savory beef, a hot spring egg, and BK sauce.
For those who don’t eat meat, Marugame Udon also has a delicious vegan udon made with handmade udon noodles, a vegan broth, and topped with ground soy marinated in lemon and ginger.
4. Hokkaido Ramen Santouka
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka is a Japanese casual dining restaurant chain specializing in ramen.
There are over 10 Hokkaido Ramen Santouka locations in California, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington.
The first Hokkaido Ramen Santouka restaurant was opened by Hitoshi Hatanaka in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, Japan, in 1988.
At first, the only item on the Hokkaido Ramen Santouka menu was shio ramen, or salt ramen, a recipe that Hatanaka perfected after months of trial and error.
The menu at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka features a variety of delicious, authentic ramens.
The signature ramen at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka is the shio ramen, made with Hokkaido Ramen Santouka’s famous white tonkotsu soup, and contains ramen noodles, pork chashu, fish cake, bamboo, and seaweed and is topped with a pickled red plum.
Another popular ramen at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka is their tokusen toroniku ramen, which is similar to their shio ramen but is served with a plate of roasted pork cheek that is so tender that it melts in your mouth.
3. E.A.K. Ramen
E.A.K. Ramen is a Japanese casual dining restaurant chain specializing in ramen.
There are two E.A.K. Ramen locations in the United States, both in New York City.
The first E.A.K. Ramen location was opened in 2008 in Machida City, Japan.
E.A.K. Ramen serves IEKEI ramen, a style of ramen that combines flavors and techniques of western tonkotsu style ramen and eastern shoyu style ramen.
The menu at E.A.K. Ramen offers various kinds of delicious ramen.
The signature ramen at E.A.K. Ramen is the E.A.K., a shoyu ramen made with Yokohama-style pork and chicken broth, shoyu tare, thick noodles, and topped with spinach, chashu, and nori.
If you’re a veggie-lover, you’ll want to try the Green House, a shoyu ramen made with a five-vegetable broth, dashi shoyu tare sansho, and thin noodles, and topped with mixed lettuce, lotus root, baby corn, mini tomatoes, snap peas, and sesame seed oil.
2. Kura Sushi
Kura Sushi is a Japanese casual dining restaurant chain specializing in revolving sushi.
There are 30 Kura Sushi locations in the United States.
The first Kura Sushi restaurant opened in Japan in 1977. The first Kura Sushi location in the US opened in 2008.
Kura Sushi is one of the innovators of the revolving sushi restaurant, where sushi is served on rotating conveyor belts.
The menu at Kura Sushi features different kinds of sushi, all of which can be ordered and delivered via the revolving conveyor belts.
You can order simple nigiri sushi, including eel, octopus, salmon, shrimp, squid, and tuna.
You can also order more elaborate sushi rolls, including caterpillar rolls, Philadelphia rolls, California rolls, salmon skin rolls, shrimp avocado rolls, tiger rolls, and spicy tuna rolls.
Finally, you can also order hand rolls wrapped with nori seaweed or soy paper, including avocado, cucumber, eel, salmon skin, spicy salmon, and spicy tuna.
Ippudo is a Japanese casual dining restaurant chain specializing in ramen.
There are 7 Ippudo locations in California and New York.
The first Ippudo restaurant opened in Fukuoka City, Japan, in 1985. The first Ippudo location in the US opened in New York City in 2008.
The menu at Ippudo features a variety of classic ramens.
One of the most popular is the Shiromaru Classic, made with tonkotsu pork broth, dashi, thin noodles, pork belly chashu, sesame kikurage mushrooms, menma, red pickled ginger, and scallions.
Another popular option is the Karaka Spicy, made with tonkotsu pork broth, thin noodles, pork belly chashu, cabbage, sesame kikurage mushrooms, and Ippudo’s signature blend of hot spices.
In addition to ramen, Ippudo also sells Ippduo buns, which are steamed buns with a variety of meat fillings, Goma Q, and cucumbers seasoned with Ippudo’s signature sesame oil sauce.
As you can see, there’s a lot more to Japanese food than just sushi. The Japanese chain restaurants on our list offer various kinds of Japanese cuisine, from udon to takoyaki to ramen.
Whether you’re a Japanese food novice or an expert, you will surely find a restaurant on this list that offers you a new favorite meal you’ve never tried before!