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Are there only fast-food restaurants in America?

Question: Hi Teacher Joe! I read that there are more than 20,000 "fast food" restaurants in the United States. There must be afast food restaurant on every corner! My American friend says there are many regular restaurants in America too, but I can't believe it. Where are these restaurants and what are they like? From Hanako in Japan.

Answer: Hello Hanako. We do have many kinds of restaurants in America. In my hometown, there are many more "regular" restaurants than fast food restaurants. Since my hometown is quite small, we only have 5 or 6 Japanese restaurants. Actually, most of the people who work there are Chinese or Korean, but at least the style is Japanese. On the other hand, there are probably more Chinese restaurants than there are KFC's. We also have from almost any country in the world - Indian food, Thai food, Ethiopian food, Greek food, whatever!

We have another type of restaurant that I used to like but now hate: "all you can eat" restaurants. Economically, these restaurants are great, because you pay only one price and then can take as much food as you want, as many times as you want. You can stay there for hours and hours. Nobody will complain or throw you out. Although these restaurants are a good way to save money, they are very bad for our health. If you see the customers who go to such restaurants, you will know what I mean. Most of the men who go in look like they will soon give birth to a child. Or two. Or maybe a cow! I mean, they're HUGE!

In addition, there are two kinds of restaurants that I like, which you may not see in Japan, or in other countries. First, we have fast food restaurants that are not large chains. These restaurants usually have much better food than the American fast food restaurants you know. For example, a hamburger in a small fast food restaurant will be much bigger than a McDonald's hamburger and will be served on delicious bread, rather than the plastic-tasting stuff you get in the chain restaurants. Or, if you go to a small pizzeria in my hometown, you can get pizza that is not only much better than at Pizza Hut, but is as good as any pizza I tasted in Italy!

The second type of typical American restaurant is called a "roadside diner". The food served in diners is much more similar to what people eat in their own homes. Foods like meatloaf and mashed potatoes are very popular both in homes and diners! Besides meat and potatoes, you can get all kinds of vegetable dishes and salads, as well as mouth-watering desserts. If you are ever travelling in the United States, you should look for a diner and try some REAL American food.

When I travel, I often stop in McDonald's or KFC because it's quick and easy, and I know what I'll be getting. However, when I am back in the U.S., I almost never go to fast food chain restaurants. There are too many other delicious choices out there!

"Yes, I said THREE Big Macs! And hurry!!"
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