Restaurant Reviews & Food Guide for Universal Studios Japan
Our Universal Studios Japan restaurant reviews feature food photos from dining spots throughout the park, menu photos, and tips for what to order while at this theme park in Osaka. From cute snacks to hearty meals, and Harry Potter to Hello Kitty, we’ve got you covered!
We love USJ, and visit with regularity. However, the restaurant scene at Universal Studios Japan leaves a ton to be desired. Even by theme park standards, entrees are undersized, overpriced, and underwhelming. This is true almost across the board, but there are a few standout exceptions.
Fortunately, as can be expected in Japan, there are a ton of cute and delicious desserts, and you could probably go the entire day at Universal Studios Japan without sitting down for a proper meal. As such, we’ll offer snack suggestions–including some hearty and savory options–that are highly Instagrammable, too. 😉
With that said, our biggest tip is to eat a hearty breakfast in Osaka or CityWalk before even entering the park. Once you enter the park, you cannot leave and reenter, so it’s imperative that you eat prior to walking through the turnstiles. Don’t say we didn’t warn you on that one.
We’ve ignored this advice our last several trips as we’ve gone out of the way to research restaurants in an attempt to find the diamonds in the rough among USJ dining. The “good” news (for you at least) is that portions are so small at Universal Studios Japan that we’ve each ended up doing 3 meals per day on a couple of these trips…plus snacks.
The actual good news is that we’ve learned a lot in the process, namely that there are some good entrees at Universal Studios Japan. There’s also some fun-looking food, which is a plus in today’s social media age. Neither the meals nor the snacks are nearly as good as Tokyo Disney Resort, but those parks are the gold standard for theme park cuisine.
USJ does a decent job holding its own, and if you dine at the recommended restaurants here and avoid the terrible options, you’ll probably never realize just how bad some of the food really is.
In terms of basic info, all restaurants at Universal Studios Japan accept credit cards or cash (Japanese yen). Many, but not all, sell alcoholic beverages (mostly beer). There are 7 restaurants where you can currently purchase unlimited drink cups. However, there are no dining plans or prepaid meal options. Snack stands are abundant throughout the park, and are not always listed on the map. Seasonal foods are very common, so your mileage may vary as to actual menus for your trip.
Note that this guide remains a work-in-progress. Universal Studios Japan has a surprisingly number of restaurants, and we’ve yet to dine at all of them. In particular, there are a few table service restaurants that seem to alternate between closing early or not opening at all. (They’re also pricey, and given our success rate at other USJ restaurants, we’re apprehensive to try them…) You can see a full list of dining options on the Restaurants at Universal Studios Japan official site page.
With that said, here are our recommended and not-so-recommended Universal Studios Japan restaurants…
Three Broomsticks – As is the case in Florida and Hollywood, this Wizarding World of Harry Potter restaurant is the best counter service option in the park. It serves a range of high-quality, hearty meals that will (mostly) be familiar to anyone who has dined at one of the other locations.
Three Broomsticks is consistently good, with the only real downside being prices (many entrees are over $20). Because of that (and since we’ve eaten here dozens of times in Los Angeles and Orlando), we don’t eat here too often. If you do dine at Three Broomsticks, we’d recommend chicken. There’s also a filling salad, and the fish & chips dish is okay and less expensive. We also suggest grabbing a table in the outside seating area behind the restaurant with a viewing of Hogwarts Castle across Black Lake. Sublime.
Happiness Cafe – If you’re looking for kawaii food, look no further than Happiness Cafe. Since Minion Park debuted, this restaurant (technically in San Francisco) has become the de facto spot for foods themed to Despicable Me. We’re fans of the burger, which looks cooler than it is, but is still pretty good.
Where Happiness Cafe is a real winner is the drink bar, which includes Coke Freestyle and fancy custom espresso machines. Meals are slightly more expensive here than other counter service restaurants, but they include this drink bar, which is a huge plus. After getting up early to be in Osaka for rope drop at USJ, nothing hits the spot like a midday dose of unlimited caffeine.
Amity Landing Restaurant – We have a full review of this JAWS-themed restaurant, which we recommend to anyone who is a fan of the attraction. The details and thematic work here is brilliant, and the restaurant has a relaxed atmosphere that is nice after a busy day of touring the park.
The fried chicken is also pretty good, but the portion is small. We’d eat at Amity Landing Restaurant every trip for the theme and food quality, but if we dined here exclusively, we’d have to do 3-4 meals per day. Perhaps we’re just pigs, but don’t say we didn’t warn you. The soda-flavored Jaws Cake is also a must-get snack (it tastes like “blue”).
Beverly Hills Boulangerie – This bakery in Hollywood is at the front of the park and it serves some really cute snacks, many of which are seasonal. Together, that’s a recipe for a really busy snack spot that draws long lines.
Beverly Hills Boulangerie is worth it. The snacks here are delicious, high quality, and incredibly photogenic. We haven’t tried the more substantive food options (yet) but it’s our favorite dessert spot in Universal Studios Japan.
Discovery Restaurant – Located in the Jurassic Park Visitor Center, Discovery Restaurant is pretty cool, especially for dinosaur fans (and who isn’t?!). My first time eating here, I had the smallest and most overpriced steak of my life, which was not nearly as upsetting as you might think, as it was also terrible. Thankfully, that’s been removed from the menu.
On a more recent visit, we tried a few different menu items and found them all to be good. The chicken sandwich was a real standout, and the Korean ribs were good, but a bit on the small side (see above). Between the improved food and the fun ambiance, Discovery Restaurant slides into the top 5 of USJ restaurants.
Mel’s Drive-In – The restaurant of American Graffiti fame, this is a solid option for burgers. Just be warned: they aren’t nearly as huge and robust as what’s pictured on the menu. Nevertheless, we like the Loco Moco Burger and recommend grabbing a booth in the ‘sidecar’ part of the restaurant.
Between the popularity of Americana in Japan and the centralized location of the restaurant, Mel’s Drive-In gets very busy. If you’re really craving a burger, we recommend beating the lunch rush by dining at around 11:30 a.m. At noon, it gets busy–and stays busy for the rest of the day.
Boardwalk Snacks – Located across from Amity Landing Restaurant, this is one of our favorite snack spots in Universal Studios Japan. They regularly have inventive varieties of pizza (which are, notably, better than Louie’s), including my favorite, the “Christmas Pizza.”
The star here is the drinks and other desserts. In the winter, you’ll find decadent hot chocolate, and in the summer, milkshakes. My favorite of these shakes is the chocolate banana option, which is themed to the Minions. Flavors vary seasonally, so don’t be surprised if that’s not an option when you visit–we’ve tried a variety of things here, and have yet to be disappointed.
Pink Cafe – There’s usually some crossover between the nearby Beverly Hills Boulangerie, Boardwalk Snacks, and Pink Cafe. It’s usually the same seasonal snacks found at those locations, plus ice cream.
The plus side here is shorter (or no) lines, and a vibrant pink backdrop for photos.
Snoopy’s Backlot Cafe – Tucked away back in the Universal Wonderland area, if you don’t have small children, you may never even see Snoopy’s Backlot Cafe. That’d be a real shame, as there are some cute snacks at this counter service restaurant, and some decent entrees, too.
Although it’s very tempting, don’t order the Snoopy steamed buns. They are small and way too doughy, which could be said for all of the buns at Universal Studios Japan. This makes ordering these difficult, especially when there’s a Lawson in CityWalk that sells far superior steamed buns for under $1.
Hello Kitty’s Corner Cafe – Tucked even deeper into Universal Wonderland, Hello Kitty’s Corner Cafe is basically a snack stand that has a few different savory and sweet snacks. We highly recommend the fried chicken with mayonnaise (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!).
Note that Hello Kitty’s Corner Cafe often closes early, so early here before around 3 p.m. Note that there’s also an (unnamed, to my knowledge) snack stand between Universal Wonderland and Amity Village that sells cool themed steamed buns. (They don’t taste good, but they look good!)
Studio Stars Restaurant – This restaurant is themed to a studio backlot cafeteria, which is a pretty underwhelming and boring style. Likewise, the food is pricey and doesn’t really excite.
Unless there’s something on the menu that really “speaks to you” we’d recommend dining at Happiness Cafe for a comparable yet superior (drink bar!) overall experience.
Louie’s N.Y. Pizza Parlor – The name here says it all, as this “Little Italy” inspired pizzeria feels like something you’d find in New York City. Except it’s really not. Against all odds, Louie’s somehow manages to make both pizza and pasta that is utterly disgusting.
Regardless of where you stand in the whole “Chicago v. New York” pizza debate, I think we can all unite around a shared belief that Louie’s is garbage pizza, and not representative of anything served anywhere in the U.S., save for the freezer section of Wal-Mart. Not to be entirely negative, the portions here are better than the norm, and if you want simple and safe fare, this is an okay option.
Dragon’s Pearl – It’s been a while since we’ve dined at this Chinese eatery, so perhaps things have improved, but it did not impress last time we were there. How do you mess up fried rice?!
The upside is that entree choices are customizable and it’s something different, I guess.
Okay, a few more notes. Most of the year, there are food trucks set up in the New York area of Universal Studios Japan. I don’t know the name of any of these because they’re not on permanent park maps. Usually, these have crazy concoctions that look really good (totally unhealthy, but appetizing).
These decadent creations always beacon to me, and I always succumb to their allure…and always get burned. They are never as good as the photos look. Never. (I’ll probably succumb to them again next time we’re at USJ, so perhaps this is more of a “do as I say, not as I do” sort of thing.) In any case, you’ve been warned.
Next, Minion Park has two permanent snack stands and several temporary ones with a variety of kawaii snacks. We’ve already written about most of these in our Guide to Minions at Universal Studios Japan post.
Note that some of the snacks here are seasonal, so what you see may be different than what’s in that post.
Along those lines, every season brings a new special event to Universal Studios Japan. Whether it be the Christmas, Halloween, or the “Cool Japan” celebration (among others), each of these events has special snacks associated with it.
So, if you’ve seen photos of the Final Fantasy churro, super-cool popcorn buckets, or a gruesome-looking steamed bun on social media, just be warned that some of these items are not available year-round.
You can do alright with dining at Universal Studios Japan if you stick to the recommendations in this guide. It’s also a matter of expectations: if you’re used to mediocre theme park or stadium food, you might be downright impressed with the choices at USJ. If you’re a Tokyo Disney Resort regular expecting quality and variety on par with those parks, you’ll be disappointed. Ultimately, playing it safe by focusing on snacks and doing only one counter service meal at one of our reliable options is the best strategy, and will yield the most fun results, too!
If you’re visiting Osaka and thinking about doing a day here, be sure to read our comprehensive Universal Studios Japan Planning Guide. USJ is one of the busiest theme parks in the world, and we offer tips & tricks for beating the crowds, and saving time & money!
If you’ve visited Universal Studios Japan, what did you think of the food? Which restaurants and entrees would you recommend? What would you recommend avoiding? Any additional snack recommendations to add? Does any of the food at USJ interest you? Any questions? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!
Leave a ReplyWant to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!