Have you ever thought of having a decent meal under 500 yen (more than US$4.8) in Tokyo, one of the most expensive cities in the world? You may find it impossible as someone tells you about the high cost of their travel in the capital of Japan. Forget it because I am sure you can lower the cost of your trip if you are well-prepared.
As all cities, there are several places offering food at cheap prices if you know where. You can try inexpensive dishes at street stalls, or at supermarkets and shops in the basement of department stores like Mitsukoshi in Ginza, or at Japanese fast food chains such as Matsuya and Sukiya.
We have looked around and make a list of restaurants for tourists travelling on a budget.
Photo by nanato kazaha
Many cheap soba noodles are available in restaurants including Shibu Soba and Komoro Soba. Despite the reasonable prices, their soba is very amazing. Use the vending machine to order the noodles and give your ticket to the staffs. At Shibu Soba, you can pay about 300 yen for hot (Attakai) or cold (Tsumetai) Komoro Soba and spend around 200 yen to add tempura, curry rice or katsu-don. Or you can taste soba with kakiage, a kind of tempura with a variety of vegetables and small shrimps.
- Shibu Soba, 8-4-15 Nishi Gotanda | Tokyo Morris Dai-2 Bldg. 1F, Shinagawa 141-0031, Tokyo
- Komoro Soba, 7-10-13 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo. Their other stores can be found in many places such as Akasaka, Ueno, Roppongi, Shibuya, and Shinjuku.
Photo by The Eager Traveller
Gyudon is a bowl of rice topped with beef and onions in a sweet, soy-based sauce. Gyudon stores are numerous and often open 24/24. You can easily find Japanese chain restaurants specializing on gyudon like Matsuya and Sukiya. Matsuya charges diners 290 yen for a bowl of gyudon and a miso soup and 60 yen for eggs and offers a free cup of tea. The beef is tender and the sauce here is very great. Remember to buy tickets at the vending machine first and then show them to their staff.
Meanwhile, people pay 250 yen for gyudon, plus 100 yen for miso soup and egg set at Sukiya. It provides a wide selection of gyudon such as cheese gyudon and vegetable gyudon. Their beef, onions and sauce are all decent. Sukiya opens its stores in different countries including China, Brazil, and Thailand.
There are lots of Matsuya and Sukiya restaurants in Tokyo but we just list one in the centre of the city for you to consider:
- Matsuya, 1-13-3 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo
- Sukiya, 7-14-1 Ginza, Chuo, Tokyo
Japanese specialties at the Togoshi Ginza Shopping Street
Photo by Chikako Nobuhara
If you are a food lover, do not skip the Togoshi Ginza Shopping Street. With 1.3 kilometers in length, it is one of the longest shopping streets in the Kanto region. You can enjoy Japanese specialties at cheap prices of less than 500 yen such as taiyaki (fish-shaped pancakes), okonomiyaki, ramen, karaage (Japanese fried chickens) and korokke (Japanese croquette).
- Address: 1F Togoshi Koyama Building, 2-13-8 Hiratsuka, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo
Photo by Tatsuya
Kibidango is made with Kibi (millet) powder and sweet rice and coated with kinako (soybean flour). The Asakusa Kibidango Azuma, located on Nakamise street of Sensouji, serves some of the best dango in Tokyo. A glass of cold matcha green tea (in summer) or amazake, a sweet rice drink (in winter) together with kibi-dango only costs less than 500 yen.
- Opening time: 9.30 a.m. - 7 p.m.
- Address: 1-18-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Photo by Fuyuhiko TAKAYA
There is a large number of unique dining places to eat ramen in Tokyo and it is not difficult to find a cheap ramen bowl but mouth-wateringly delicious. You can try it at a small store called Ramentei, which is popular among locals in Asakusa and can be reached in 6 minutes from Asakusa Station. You can order a plain soy sauce based ramen only for 320 yen. You need to buy a ticket at the vending machine outside the shop, and then give it to the owner inside.
- Opening time: Weekdays 11 a.m. - 8.30 p.m.; Saturdays, and Sundays 9 a.m. - 8 p.m.
- Address: 1-39-9, Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Do not think that food at cheap prices does not taste well. If you eat like a local, you don’t need to spend a lot but still can enjoy delicious dishes.