Chances are you’re not familiar with the fast food burger joint Lotteria. This is likely because there are only two locations on Okinawa. The fast food burger joint first opened it’s doors in September 1972 offering patrons in the Tokyo area typical fast food offerings including burgers, fried potatoes, chicken wings and chicken fingers.
Nowadays Lotteria can be found all over East Asia including locations in China, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar and of course Okinawa.
Being that there are only two locations on island Lotteria isn’t one of the places I find myself near when the lunch bell rings so when we happened upon it today I figured we would give it a whirl.
The signage for Lotteria as well as the building housing this particular location look very much like one might have looked in the 70’s. Even the door handles have what I can only imagine is a long forgotten mascot of a happy goat or similar animal. The interior of the restaurant also echoes the 1970’s with colors, tables and chairs which feel very out of place in today’s modern world.
A unique feature of this Lotteria location is that there is no menu posted behind the counter. As an alternative Lotteria offers only a menu, similar to what you will see at other counter service restaurants here in Japan, at the register. Unless you are already familiar with the
menu this slows service considerably. On the menu is an assortment of burgers, including their famous shrimp burger who they are credited for inventing, and chicken options. Unfortunately for us a good amount of the burgers and sandwiches they offer were “out of stock” on this particular day. This left us with the option of ordering a double cheeseburger, hamburger or bacon cheeseburger. We decided to go with a double cheeseburger, bacon cheeseburger, some fries, soda and a milk shake.
Once our order was made and put on the tray we both found ourselves a bit surprised at what it was we had just paid ¥1800 for. The burgers were very small and the question “where’s the beef” came to mind. Being optimistic, after all this is a relatively popular burger joint in other parts of of East Asia so it must be good, we figured sinking our teeth into the burger would reveal a flavor that would blow our minds. Sadly this was not the case. The burgers at Lotteria are very similar to the burgers served in the inner city high school I attended. It’s hard to describe but there is an overall lack of flavor, lack of beef and lack of quality which was upsetting given the price. In fact there are better hamburgers and cheeseburgers at FamilyMart for ¥100. The fries were ok. . . . at least they seemed that way against the backdrop of a subpar burger.
Finally there was the milkshake. The milkshake was probably the best part of the meal, although that’s not really saying a lot. It had a simple milk and vanilla ice cream mix at the bottom topped with chocolate cornflakes, whipped cream and fluffy pastries on top. Although this was the most tasty item that we ordered it was relatively small offering about 2 or 3 sips of “milkshake” and a few bites of the toppings.
Although the food was not very good and the prices were way too high for the quality what really put the nail in the coffin for Lotteria as far as we were concerned is the upkeep of the restaurant. This Lotteria not only echoed the 70’s it also seemed as though some things had not been changed since the 70’s either. The bathrooms were a particularly good example of this with the toilet seat disintegrating and flaking away similar to what you might
see in an abandoned building. The booths and seating areas had a visible grime that had clearly been developed over the years. Metal joints and brackets were corroding and beginning to rust as well. This is relatively disappointing because it falls so far below the standard of what you would see here in Japan.
What I cannot seem to wrap my head around is why this Lotteria location is in such poor shape. It’s not as though the restaurant was empty. In fact it was packed with patrons and with it’s popularity through the country and all of East Asia how can it be that there are not enough funds to make this only freestanding Lotteria location in Okinawa up to par with the rest of the locations around the island and the country?
To find these Lotteria locations please check the link HERE.