food

Survey ranks Japan’s most and least welcoming restaurants of 2014

22 Comments
By Master Blaster

The reputation of Japanese customer service speaks for itself, but among the various businesses in the country certain establishments stand out even more for making patrons feel at home. Recently, President Magazine conducted a survey of over 1,000 men and women to find out which eating and drinking establishments made this grade.

Restaurants are often ranked in terms of delicious food, variety, and value, but this time we’re going to see which eateries people feel most comfortable going into and which ones have all the charm and ambiance of a prison chow hall.

This survey encompassed all types of eating and drinking establishments in Japan from coffee shops to fast food restaurants to izakaya (bar style restaurants). Respondents who came from all over the country were asked to say if a list of popular restaurants simply had good or bad “hospitality power.” The top restaurants were chosen as having the most “good” votes versus the least “bad votes.”

Here are the top ten:

10 St Marc Café 8 Votes Good / 5 Votes Bad

This Okayama-based coffee chain with a French sounding name rounds out the top ten with a mildly positive rating. I would comment but I’ve actually never gone to one of these places. Perhaps these shops are so quaintly welcoming and unassuming that I just walk past them without noticing. Then again my lack of observation can be downright legendary sometimes.

9 Coco Ichibanya 15 Good / 7 Bad One time while I was eating at this curry restaurant an obscure gangsta rap song came over the store’s radio. Unbeknownst to the largely Japanese speaking staff and customers there it laid out some of the most explicit sexual rhymes I ever heard with the rapper only holding back occasionally by referring to his euphemistic “pimp stick.”

8 Coco’s 10 Good / 4 Bad

Well, this is confusing but the family restaurant Coco’s with its wider selection of foods edged out Coco Ichiban in hospitality. However, we can probably also assume some of the 1,000 people got mixed up between the two. It happens sometimes.

7 Komeda Kohiten 13 Good / 5 Bad

It’s no surprise that coffee shops like Komeda make a good showing on this ranking, their emphasis on ambiance would certainly help the overall hospitality of the place. But as we’ll also soon see, Komeda Kohiten may have been hurt by their usage of the less common kanji characters for “coffee” (珈琲).

6 Gyukaku 14 Good / 5 Bad

I have to admit that this yakiniku (barbequed meat) restaurant always looked inviting from the outside. I’ve never gone in though as the concept of paying a restaurant only to have to cook the food myself just seems fundamentally wrong to me. That aside, it’s apparently very cozy with a nice staff.

5 Ootoya 11 Good / 3 Bad

This Japanese restaurant gets the dubious distinction of being the highest ranking “kanji named” restaurant of the bunch. Overall, in the survey it was discovered that restaurants using Japanese or Chinese oriented names seemed to fare much more poorly in hospitality power than those with western style names. This should give you some idea of what’s in store.

4 Denny’s 22 Good / 5 Bad

Hey! Stop laughing.

While those familiar with the American version of Denny might find this fourth place ranking absurd there certainly appears to be a huge difference in the chain on each side of the Pacific. That, or some Japanese people are simply too enamored by the exotic Americanness of it to see any faults.

3 Royal Host 29 Good / 5 Bad

I once ordered a plate of tacos at Royal Host and they were served up ice cold. Still, I’ve gone back since. I suppose that says a lot about the hospitality of one of Japan’s leading chains.

2 Mos Burger 36 Good / 4 Bad

They may be a little more expensive and a little slower than other fast food burger joints, but there is definitely something inviting about Mos Burger.

1 Starbucks 60 Good / 4 Bad

Starbucks stands as perhaps the shining example of hospitality power. How else can they sell decent tasting coffee for extremely high prices while making up their own language for ordering? And yet Starbucks not only made it work, they’re considered the most welcoming chain in Japan!

Analysts suggested that name power had a lot to do with the hospitality power of a restaurant. It appears that chains with Western style names seemed more inviting to customers than those with more Asian ones, especially towards female customers. Interestingly McDonald’s (14th) proved to be the most polarizing of the group earning a whopping 93 “Good” votes and 104 “Bad” votes surpassing both the best and worst restaurants in total votes either way. The bottom of the list was mostly comprised of gyudon restaurants with Yoshinoya coming out on top (17th: 26 Good / 37 Bad). This style of restaurant is fiercely competitive and caters to their no-nonsense customer base of hungry workers. Despite that, gyudon chain Sukiya was at the bottom with 8 “Good” votes and 89 “Bad” votes.

That being said, the hospitality of any business is really a subjective thing and shouldn’t sway your choice when looking for somewhere to dine or hang out. However, if you’re looking to start a restaurant of your own, these numbers are very well worth considering.

Source: President via Niconico News (Japanese)

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Import immediately! The top 3 Japanese chain restaurants -- Up all night? Tokyo-area late-night restaurants are standing by with ramen, donuts -- Swank is key! Most young Japanese part-timers wish they worked at Starbucks

© RocketNews24

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.


22 Comments
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Who is writing the commentary here? It appears initially to be part of the survey but as I get through the article it becomes obvious that his/her own comments were not from those actually surveyed but rather from his or her own opinions about the places - a couple of which this author commented on while admitting never to have set foot in the place... Next time comments from those that actually responded to the survey would be more interesting and helpful.

17 ( +19 / -2 )

B.S. The MOST friendly shop is a local one you eat in frequently, know the owners, flirt with the waitresses, and know how you like your meal cooked.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

I’ve never gone in though as the concept of paying a restaurant only to have to cook the food myself just seems fundamentally wrong to me.

Someone living in Japan who refuses to go to yakiniku because it is "fundamentally wrong"? Get off your high horse mate, you sound like one of the ignorant fresh off the boat foreigners from Lost in Translation.

Interesting to see the results but the commentary was really lackluster. Also are these votes scaled down? 1000 people surveyed and the largest amount a group of people choosing the same place was 64? I also wouldn't classify Starbucks as a restaurant.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

some of my american friends who came to visit said the same thing about yakiniku. they didn't want to go because the purpose of going to a restaurant was NOT having to cook. but i took them anyways, to jou jou en, and they loved it.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Who is writing the commentary here? It appears initially to be part of the survey but as I get through the article it becomes obvious that his/her own comments were not from those actually surveyed but rather from his or her own opinions about the places - a couple of which this author commented on while admitting never to have set foot in the place... Next time comments from those that actually responded to the survey would be more interesting and helpful.

You have to remember that it's a Rocketnews article.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Terrible story about chain restaurants. So sad.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I have to admit that this yakiniku (barbequed meat) restaurant always looked inviting from the outside. I’ve never gone in though as the concept of paying a restaurant only to have to cook the food myself just seems fundamentally wrong to me

What is wrong with this person??? How can one live in Japan and have not tried Yakiniku unless you are a vegetarian?

So, so strange.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

You probably have been to St Marc Café - by rights should be called Choco Cro as this is the largest sign on the cafe - until you notice the smaller St Marc Café to one side!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You have to remember that it's a Rocketnews article.

And obviously not written by rocket scientists.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The article was pretty awful but goes into downright "legendarily bad" territory when the author says they have never visited a yakiniku restaurant because the concept is "fundamentally wrong." Good Lord.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Yeah, this is more or less an opinion piece perhaps supplemented to an extent by the actual survey results. As such, I'll give mine on each (in the same order by rank, but not necessarily according to my preferences/rank):

10) St Marc Café: Service is more or less like any over-the-counter place here, which is usually better than in other nations. The sandwiches are pretty good, as is the coffee. The biggest beef I have with this place is that most shops still allow smoking (or at least did last time I went to one), and the smoking area is always on the ground floor closest to the door so you have to walk through it no matter what.

9) Coco Ichibanya: The curry is great, by Japanese curry standards, but I find the ambience in these stores about as appealing as a Tim Horton's back home (minus the sweet Boston Cream donut plus coffee smell!). Customer service is fine, though the place I used to go to once in a while was always empty and only had one or two staff constantly filling out take out/delivery orders. I had the same experience as the writer of this article in terms of music, though was subject to far worse music at a Shakey's in Kyoto (I love DMX, but the machine gun sounds and constant swearing, etc., aren't conducive to family dining).

8) Coco’s: Never heard of it until now, or at least hadn't cared enough to remember it. I notice in the pic above that they more or less stole the colors and similar font to CoCo Ichiban's signs; something common to chain shops here.

7) Komeda Kohiten: Only been once and the service and atmosphere, as well as the coffee, were excellent. Overpriced, yes, but excellent. If I were a cake set fan like all the middle-aged and older ladies there when I went it would have been heaven, but I just had the coffee.

6) Gyukaku: Been once. Definitely inviting from the outside, so I had to give it a go. Food is good, as is the service, though a little pricey and it really is ONLY meat unless you order vegetable dishes on the side (unless they've changed). This is one area yakiniku in Japan could really learn from its origin in Korea -- lots of free side dishes full of leafy vegetables, salads, and more.

5: Ootoya: There's one not far from where I live, but I've never been. Looks decent enough, so maybe I'll give it a try.

4) Denny’s: Been to two different shops in Osaka in my time here in Japan, and while the service is good, I really don't see the appeal. It felt no different to me than stepping into a Saezariya or Gusto, or other Skylark restaurant, and I was disappointed by the menu (I wanted a REAL 'grand slam breakfast', not a Wa-fuu one). Nothing wrong with it, but yeah, it's interesting that this should be number 4.

3) Royal Host: Never been, but they look okay.

2) Mos Burger: Love it! That is to say, the food. The main shop in the town I live in has a great atmosphere as well on the second floor, and if I need to study I often go there to do so. The others I've been to have the same great food but the atmosphere is nothing special and, again, they still have smoking areas.

1) Starbucks: This would be my No.1 for chain shops as well, for everything from service with smiles to atmosphere. Okay, it's costly, yes. But I LOVE the fact that it is also 100% non-smoking and is the only place in Japan I've actually seen staff asked people who were loitering to buy something else or leave. Kudos! The only problem I have with Starbucks is when I go there to relax and read or study while drinking a coffee and get stuck beside a table of two or more giddy girls squealing loudly and shouting, "Ano, sa! Ne! Etto! Sa!", but that would of course be MY problem, not theirs.

Sorry... had a few minutes on my hand and thought I'd throw in my two cents on the places mentioned.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I'm a vegetarian and even I've been to yakiniku restaurants with friends! Great bibinba! And what about okonomiyaki restaurants?! Faaantastic! Amazing!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Food is good, as is the service, though a little pricey

Are we talking about the same Gyukaku? Not Jojoen?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I notice in the pic above that they more or less stole the colors and similar font to CoCo Ichiban's signs; something common to chain shops here.

I think Coco's is originally American, so probably came to the color scheme independently of each other.

Denny's is actually alright for what it is. Certainly no American-style breakfasts but a pretty decent sized menu and usually good service.

I'm more of a Tully's Pandabelle than a Starbucks one but I imagine Starbucks has pretty decent service, by their popularity...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I've been to the chain Gyukaku a number of times and like it, although their beers are a bit pricey. I don't like paying more than 500 yen for a beer unless I am at an upscale place.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

When one lives (occasionally) on Struggle Street, you can't go past the 100 yen glasses of wine (250 yen decanter) at Saizeria! Not bad seafood salad too!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Boy I never get that 3minutes back, what a waste haha

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Someone living in Japan who refuses to go to yakiniku because it is "fundamentally wrong"? Get off your high horse mate, you sound like one of the ignorant fresh off the boat foreigners from Lost in Translation.

It's his opinion - which he makes clear in the sentence. He's entitled to having one that doesn't align with yours.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

mrkobayashi: "Are we talking about the same Gyukaku? Not Jojoen?"

You're right, not that you mention it. I passed by the restaurant I was thinking about this evening and it's not Gyukaku. I immediately remembered the correct chain, though, and have changed my opinion. Not as nice as the place I had in mind, although it is cheaper. It's right across from a CoCo Ichiban, so I should have known better.

Pandabelle: Tulley's has it's charms, and I used to go to one when I practiced at a music school in the city, but there are none nearby where I live. I think I'd still go to Starbucks though if I had both choices -- I just like it better (and the Tulley's still has smoking sections, which are absolutely heinous! I like their variety of fruit juices (and was it smoothies?) they offer, too. Starbucks often pulls the 'seasonal' crap and used to stop serving everything but thick, sugary frappucinos from September first (I think the mango tea thing is year-round now). The reason I wasn't a huge fan of the Denny's was because I WANTED the American-style breakfast on the menu... I mean, what do you think besides Grand Slam Breakfast when you think of Denny's? haha. Not sure about the Coco's thing. I just remember that when Starbucks hit it big here and started expanding far too much there were a number of cafes which opened using the same font for their names as Starbucks and sometimes the same color, like Excelsior cafe (sign was later changed to blue).

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Starbucks' customer service is good on the whole, if not a tad robotic. Although, I had an encounter a few months ago where a tourist wanted to use the supposedly free WiFI available. It was kind of urgent from what I could gather - something about her husband. Anyway, I watched as she was met with mostly blank stares & confusion and, in the end, one of the girls behind the counter ended up just handing her a how-to pamphlete. The problem is, it was useless. You need to be online to be able to log in to their free WiFi page. Ridiculous, right? I saw this all unfold while I was waiting for my 'coffee' (let's not kid ourselves - Starbucks' 'coffee' offerings are awful).

It gets better. Not one member of staff would take the time to help her so, in the end, I jumped in and offered to tether my phone to her laptop and she was able to log in eventually. Meanwhile, the Starbucks clerks completely ignored her. There were four staff on & place was not that busy at the time.

All she wanted to do was connect to the WiFi! I mean c'mon! roI was ropable.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Restaurant surveys at least gives me a broad spectrum of opinions which is more that you can say for a traditional restaurant critic and I like that. My experience is that most of the reviews by ordinary people have been detailed, thoughtful, and fair-minded as far as I can tell. So I have used them on many occasions and the results mostly positive but not always. However if you are going to use a traditional restaurant critic then you need to ignore non-specific assertions of goodness or badness, even if you know who wrote the reviews and have reasons to trust them. There's no accounting for taste, which is frequently uneven and always subjective.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

smith

and the Tulley's still has smoking sections, which are absolutely heinous!

It's interesting, the Tully's I go to most often has a smoking section, but it's completely isolated from the rest of the shop with a door and everything. I've never noticed a stray smoking odor but I don"t usually sit right next to the smoking area, either. Those shops that have a smoking area that's just behind a partition are dumb. What's the point of that?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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