You could spend years eating three meals a day out in Tokyo and barely scratch the surface. The default standard of food in Japan is high no matter what it is- even if it’s a convenience store bento – so you’re not going to lack for good food no matter where you eat. But, if you’re after a few gems then read on for our budget friendly, incredible food picks for where to eat in Tokyo…
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1. Afuri Ramen
For ramen with a twist, Afuri’s addition of yuzu to its broth makes for a unique and light bowl of noodles. You can choose from shoyu (soy sauce) or shio (salt) yuzu broth or their tsukemen (dipping ramen) is popular with its patrons too. Their ramen bars are sleek and modern in design making dining in, a refreshing change from the usual surroundings.
Watch our YouTube video of ramen at Afuri
2. Daiwa Sushi
Tsukiji Fish Market
Open Monday to Saturday 5:30am to 1:30pm
Whether you’ve woken up early (or stayed up all night) to catch Tsukiji Fish Market’s famous tuna auction or not, a sushi breakfast at Tsukiji Fish Market is mandatory for any visit to Tokyo. The fish literally does not get fresher than here. At Daiwa sushi you can experience the life changing omakase sushi set for around $40USD per person- chump change considering the quality of the meal. It’s all over very quickly but we can promise it’ll be some time before you forget the flavour of that tuna belly melting on your tongue.
Watch our YouTube video from the Tsukiji Fish Market tuna auction and breakfast at Daiwa Sushi
3. Tokyo Ramen Street
Open until late
If you’re facing a ramen conundrum namely what type to eat then Tokyo Ramen Street in Tokyo Station will sort you out. Here you’ll find a collection of 8 popular ramen restaurants who each specialise in different kinds of ramen. At Oreshiki Jun you’ll find creamy tonkotsu ramen, Rokurinsha offers tsukemen (dipping ramen) and you can sample shio ramen at Senomon Hirugao. Problem solved!
Watch our YouTube video from Tokyo Ramen Street
Open 24 hours
If you’re after cheap, wholesome and tasty then Sukiya, a 24 hour chain restaurant which specialises in gyudon (beef bowls), curry and other home-style braised meats, won’t let you down. Sticky white rice loaded with saucy, thinly sliced meat and topped with pickled ginger or kimchi- this is Japanese comfort food at its best.
Inside Suzukien Asakusa, 3-4-3 Asakusa, Taito-ku
10am-5pm / closed 3rd Wed of every month (Thu if Wed is a holiday)
If you’re a matcha fan then you must visit Nanaya who make the richest matcha gelato in the world. Their matcha gelato is graded from one through to seven, with one being the sweetest, most subtle flavour on offer and seven being the most premium matcha gelato available. The colour is reason enough to order it- a deep, forest green which tastes almost savoury in its flavour. The green tea is sourced from Suzukien whose tea hails from Shizuoka prefecture, one of Japan’s premier tea growing regions. If you’re not a matcha fan, Nanaya also make flavours like roasted tea and black sesame, which hold their own as well.
6. Katsu Midori
Open 7 days 11:00am to 11:00pm
A visit to Tokyo wouldn’t be complete without a sushi train experience right? If you’re on a budget Katsu Midori which has a couple of restaurants around the city is a safe bet. But whilst the plates are wallet friendly (the cheapest is 100 yen/$1USD and the most expensive 500 yen/$5USD) they don’t skimp on quality or variety either. Sample whitebait, fresh scallops, raw prawns and countless fish varieties as well as hot foods like chicken karaage (fried chicken). We loved the individual hot water taps which allow you to make your own green tea and the fact that they don’t rush you out the door.
Watch our YouTube video of sushi at Katsu Midori
7. Tsukiji Street Food
Street food isn’t really a thing in Tokyo unlike other Asian cities like Taipei or Bangkok. But the laneways in and around Tsukiji Fish Market offer an interesting and tasty morning of street food grazing. You’ll find fish cakes, grilled eel, soda soft serve, fluffy omelettes and of course truckloads of sashimi and sushi. Definitely worth a visit when you’re in Tokyo!
Watch our Tsukiji street food YouTube video
8. Memory Lane (Piss Alley)
In the 1940s this area used to be an illegal drinking spot. The lack of bathrooms often saw patrons wander off in the direction of the train tracks to take a leak and it became known as Piss Alley. Nowadays, this narrow laneway in Shinjuku embodies the spirit of old Tokyo. Small izakaya (Japanese pubs) grill yakitori (chicken skewers) on tiny charcoal grills as customers smoke and swig beers. A quintessential Tokyo experience.
Watch our YouTube video where we visit Piss Alley
9. Convenience Stores: 7-Eleven, Family Mart and Lawsons
Convenience stores in Japan offer off the charts excitement in the food stakes. Onigiri make for a cheap and tasty breakfast, sandwiches filled with anything from deep fried pork cutlets to teriyaki chicken- even fruit salad (!) are plentiful and come dinner time- the options are endless. Affordable bento boxes filled with fish, noodles, deep fried chicken, gyudon- there is so much variety it’s breathtaking. Not to mention all the crazy delicious ice-creams, drinks and sweets that are just begging to be bought!
Watch our YouTube video where we eat all 3 meals a day from convenience stores!
No matter where you’re travelling to we always recommend you have travel insurance. We use and love World Nomads. The great thing about them is that you can purchase travel insurance while you’re already travelling!
We hope this Tokyo food guide has helped you eat and explore like a traveler, not a tourist!
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