Today I’m going to talk about eating food at restaurants in Japan and how to save a little bit if Yen. For those traveling Japan or thinking about living in Japan, I hope this helps you out a little.
One of the main places that people can grab a cheap bento or snack in a convenience store (called “combini”). You can get heated bento, Japanese onigiri (rice dumplings), hot drinks, beer and other fun snacks. They are also a great place to buy Japanese snacks as souvenirs. Major chains are 7/11, Lawson’s and Family Mart, then there are Mini Stop, Circle K or Sunkus. There are many other small ones, but you pretty much can’t go two blocks in Tokyo without seeing one of those combini.
For inexpensive and healthy meals, it’s also a great idea to check out supermarkets or mall food courts. They usually make traditional and western style bento, heat them up for you and give you utensils. They are great to take to parks for a mini picnic (most people in Japan just buy prepared food for picnics). If you do plan some time out in a park, there will always be a food stall or small restaurant that sells snack foods and small dishes for next to nothing.
Izakaya are fantastic places to try a wide range of traditional Japanese style and sometimes unusual creations at a low price. There are izakaya all over the city. Shibuya is especially full of them.
Every mall in Tokyo (and most other cities) will have top floor restaurants and while they will certainly have many lovely selections, they will also be more expensive. They are a great opportunity to try traditional Japanese dishes since most malls will have one floor with mostly Japanese style restaurants.
Here’s a site that shows you a list of 10 of the top izakaya – click here to visit the site
Some of the malls that have great restaurants are:
- Takashimaya in Shinjuku
- Oazo or Marunouchi Building in Marunouchi (area near Tokyo Station)
- Any Atre mall
Finally, hotels like the Four Seasons, Peninsula, Hilton and so on will have beautiful Japanese restaurants but they might be a bit expensive.
For some other inexpensive food places, try:
- CoCo Ichiban (Japanese curry) - (logo is at the top left corner in yellow)
- Yoshinoya (beef rice bowls) - (logo is at the top left in orange and black)
- Tenya (tempura bowls) - though their brand is written in Japanese, you can easily find them if you look for their blue and yellow logo (top right corner of the revolving images on the site)
Good luck and I hope you enjoy your cheap dining experience!