Budget Restaurants in Japan – Affordable Japanese Food

April 22, 2023 12:34 pm27 commentsViews: 97

When on a Japan vacation, eating out usually takes up a large portion of many travelers’ budgets. Learn how to find budget-friendly restaurants in Tokyo, Osaka, and elsewhere, while experiencing some excellent food in Japan.

Budget Restaurants in Japan – Affordable Japanese Food

Japanese Set Lunches and Chain Restaurants

Lunchtime meals usually cater to office workers in big cities like Tokyo and Osaka, so budget travelers to Japan can usually find very reasonably priced meals around the noon hour. Many fancy restaurants located in busy districts may be very expensive at dinner, but offer a reasonably priced lunch menu prepared to similar high standards.

For travelers who are looking for a leisurely dining experience, instead of the hectic rush at vending machine diners during lunch, they may wish to consider restaurants specializing in set meals. The restaurant chain Ootoya is one of the best Tokyo restaurants for such low-priced set meals, which typically include a main dish as well as miso soup, pickles, and perhaps other side dishes.

For travelers craving pasta or pizza after days of Japanese food, the Saizeriya restaurant chain serves Italian food at rock-bottom prices, with dishes such as spaghetti, risotto, and pizza. The drink bar offers all you can drink tea, coffee, juice and soda at an extremely reasonable price.

As always, walking away from popular tourist centers means that restaurant prices will get progressively lower.

Grocery Stores and Convenience Stores

Japanese convenience stores stock a wide variety of pre-packaged bento boxes, or lunch boxes, as well as rice balls, sandwiches, and salads. Most of these offerings are very fresh, prepared on the same day. Those on budget travel to Japan might consider spending more on a trendy restaurant in Shibuya or Roppongi (districts of Tokyo) for lunch, and then making do with a bento box or salad at dinner. Most convenience stores can also microwave packaged meals, so travelers can enjoy a hot meal.

Grocery stores in Japan also carry prepackaged bento boxes, as well as fresh sushi and sashimi. Fish is sold at amazingly low prices, and travelers can get some excellent sashimi in Japan by purchasing a piece of sashimi-grade fish, and cutting it up themselves (perhaps with a handmade Japanese knife purchased as a souvenir).

Japanese Department Store Food Halls

The basement story of many department stores, such as Seibu, Mitsukoshi, and Isetan in Tokyo, contain food halls selling sweets, pastries, and sometimes more substantial fare. Often, food halls are also attached to malls and railway stations. Food halls in Japan are a great place to get some free samples, as well as to pick up individually sized portions of various specialty foods. Some food halls are more expensive than others – generally those attached to railway stations offer more bento boxes and groceries, while food halls attached to high-end department stores offer gifts such as boxes of sweets, cookies, and alcohol.

With a little frugality, travelers can experience excellent food at affordable prices during their Japan vacation.


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