8 Recommended Cheap but Great Restaurants in Tokyo!

8 Recommended Cheap but Great Restaurants in Tokyo

(flickr By hirotomo t)

Visitors may lament how expensive Tokyo restaurants are, but this is most often due to misconceptions about, or unfamiliarity with Japanese dining culture. You have to look to the spirit of adventure that brought you to Tokyo in the first place and seek out the chain stores, yokocho (back alley) eateries and market stalls to get the best, and cheapest, Tokyo restaurant experience. Embrace the food, and you’ll embrace the culture!



 

8 Recommended Cheap but Great Restaurants in Tokyo!

 

1. Yoshinoya: Gyudon

8 Recommended Cheap but Great Restaurants in Tokyo gyudon

Gyudon is a type of donburi (topped rice bowl), consisting of a bowl of rice topped with soft-simmered beef and onion in a mild sweet sauce. As one of the traditional ‘fast foods’ of Japan, it is both tasty and filling. There are several large Tokyo restaurant chains for gyudon, but my favorite is Yoshinoya; few can compare for flavor or quality. A gyudon from Yoshinoya will leave you full and satisfied for around ¥500!

 

2. Minatoya: Seafood Donburi

8 Recommended Cheap but Great Restaurants in Tokyo Minatoya

(flickr By Toru)

If bright lighting and formica doesn’t seem quite romantic enough, you may prefer the more traditional appeal of donburi at the two Minatoya shops in the famous Ameyoko market area of Ueno. Their extensive menu, also shown in English, starts from around ¥500. With fresh ingredients direct from Tsukiji fish market, you can enjoy a filling seafood donburi for well under ¥1,000.

 

3. Midori Zushi: Sushi

8 Recommended Cheap but Great Restaurants in Tokyo midori zushi

(flickr By Youhei Nitta)

Sushi is easily the best known Japanese fast food, but it can be expensive. The popular Midori Zushi chain, with restaurants in Shibuya, Ginza, Akasaka, Tamagawa, Kichijoji, and Umegaoka, and a conveyor belt sushi shop in Shimotakaido, offers excellent quality and value. Lunch sets with salad and miso soup start at around ¥800. It’s possible to have dinner for around ¥1,500, but double that if you really want to stuff yourself!

 

4. Harajuku Gyoza Lou: Gyoza

8 Recommended Cheap but Great Restaurants in Tokyo harajuku gyoza lou

(flickr By Kim Ahlström)

If you’re out and about in the fashionable Harajuku area, Gyoza Lou might make for a filling lunch break. The menu is very simple, offering 6 fried or steamed gyōza (Chinese dumplings) for around ¥300. Their side dishes are great too, though you might need to wait for a table at this popular Tokyo restaurant where a meal will usually cost under ¥1,000.

 

5. Sanuki Udon Hanamaru: Noodles

8 Recommended Cheap but Great Restaurants in Tokyo hanamaru udon

(flickr By hirotomo t)

If you don’t want to wait at Gyoza Lou, why not take a walk down Takeshita-dori and find Sanuki Udon Hanamaru, one of over 300 of this popular chain nationwide. Specialising in sanuki udon noodles of Kagawa prefecture, the chain also serves soba noodles along with a variety of toppings and side dishes, including great tempura. Expect to fill up for no more than ¥500 to ¥1,000.

 

6. Ramentei: Ramen

8 Recommended Cheap but Great Restaurants in Tokyo ramentei

(flickr By k m)

As you might expect, Tokyo abounds with traditional ramen shops, and one of the best is this small shop on Denbōin-dori shopping street near Asakusa station. Offering delicious Tokyo style ramen, wonton men noodles and shumai dumplings, a filling meal will cost just ¥500 to ¥1,000. And you’ll know it’s good by the number of locals it attracts, so don’t be put off by a queue!

 

7. Hidakaya: Ramen

8 Recommended Cheap but Great Restaurants in Tokyo hidakaya

(flickr By Nori Norisa)

Of course, small ramen shops vary considerably in taste and popularity, but if you’re looking for somewhere with a proven track record, the Hidakaya chain is cheap, has a large menu and you can find their restaurants all over Tokyo. With a dozen or more varieties of ramen to choose from, all under ¥600, it’s a great choice for a quick and filling meal.

 

8. Iseya: Yakitori

8 Recommended Cheap but Great Restaurants in Tokyo iseya yakitori

(flickr By y kawahara)

It would be amiss of me to conclude this list without a mention of the quintessential Japanese fast food, yakitori (skewered, char-grilled chicken). If you are going to Inokashira Park for the boats, zoo or the Studio Ghibli Museum, look out for Iseya, on the right before entering the park. Each stick on the menu, also available in English, costs just ¥80. This is probably Tokyo’s best-known yakitori restaurant so expect long waits to be seated. Otherwise, order at the quicker take away counter.

 

Conclusion

It’s perplexing to think just how many cheap and tasty Tokyo restaurants a minimal list like this has to leave out, but the point is that we are a nation of diners out, and always have been, so food is as much about discovery, family and atmosphere, as it is price. Take a walk around the back streets of Tokyo at night and take in the sights and smells that fill the air; they’ll lead you right to the heart of our culture. Happy eating!

 

8 Recommended Cheap but Great Restaurants in Tokyo!

1. Yoshinoya: Gyudon
2. Minatoya: Seafood Donburi
3. Midori Zushi: Sushi
4. Harajuku Gyoza Lou: Gyoza
5. Sanuki Udon Hanamaru: Noodles
6. Ramentei: Ramen
7. Hidakaya: Ramen
8. Iseya: Yakitori