While travelling, one of the most important decisions to make on a daily basis is where and what to eat. Especially in a foreign country where you may not understand the language, reading the menu alone can be pretty intimidating and you may accidentally end up ordering something you don’t like or can’t eat. What’s worse, the bill may turn out to be a shock at the end of your meal if you order without paying close attention to the prices.
To overcome these potential pitfalls during mealtimes, how about trying these three unusual buffets in Tokyo where you can try some uniquely Japanese treats to your heart’s content at a fixed price?
“Dagashi” is a term that refers to cheap snacks which are generally very popular with children due to their low prices. Over the years, the dagashi selection in the market has gone through a lot of changes so what many people had during their childhood may not be as easily obtainable now. As a result, dagashi is often associated with the nostalgia of your childhood memories.
When the first Dagashi Bar was opened in September 1998 at Oomori in Ota Ward, it was actually named Daddy’s Table. During lunchtime, it was a curry specialty restaurant and became a bar at night. It was only in November 2003 that the owners changed the name to Dagashi Bar due to the opening of a new branch in Ebisu. The interior of the restaurants was changed to a nostalgic Showa style and only operated at night as a bar. Although the Oomori shop is no longer around, the original curry rice made there can still be ordered at the Dagashi Bar branches.
As to why the bar began offering dagashi, it actually had to do with one of their founding members who loved to eat these snacks while drinking. The rest of the members were skeptical at first about the compatibility of dagashi with alcohol but were surprised to be proven wrong. As children with limited pocket money, many people would have memories of how they wished to eat all the dagashi but couldn’t. In order to help these people realise their dreams and be able to feast on dagashi for a small price, it was then decided that the bars would offer a dagashi buffet of more than 100 types of these cheap snacks for just 500 yen. The only catch is that you have to order at least one drink to go with your buffet. Of course, if you feel that you need to eat something more substantial than just dagashi, the extensive izakaya menu here is bound to satisfy your needs.
As of August 2017, there are six branches of Dagashi Bar located in and near Tokyo. They are in Ebisu, Ningyocho, Ikebukuro, Shibuya, Kamata, and Kawasaki. As such, it would be best to check the opening hours and days of the respective branches on the official website’s shop listing before paying a visit.
Sembikiya is a well-known importer and distributor of fruits. It and also sells wine and Western-style desserts made from its fruits which are highly regarded as high-quality and luxury gifts in Japan. Considering the company’s leading position in this industry, it is no wonder that their World Fruits Buffet offered at their main store on the second floor of Mitsui Tower at Nihonbashi is such a hit that you have to book your place at least a month in advance.
Reservations are only accepted on the 1st of the preceding month. For example, if you want to make a reservation for October, you will need to reserve your place from 1st September onwards either by phone or via its online website. However, please take note that there will be a cancellation fee if you do not show up on the day of the reservation, cancel your reservation less than three days before your designated date or not everyone in your group shows up, such as if you reserve four seats but only three people come for the buffet.
On every Monday (Tuesday if that week’s Monday is a public holiday), Sembikiya’s World Fruits Buffet is held between 7:00pm and 9:00pm for 6,480 yen (including tax) per person. The price may look rather intimidating, but the spread is said to feature 20 to 24 types of fruits (depending on the season), some of which are rarely seen in Japan, fruit yoghurt, fruit ade, coffee, tea, juices, two different types of curry rice (mango and spicy coconut), pineapple hashed beef, salads, desserts, cakes, sandwiches, and seasonal hors-d’œuvres. The price, then, is said to be a steal as it allows you to eat as much of the variety of fruits and fruit-themed food as you like for a fixed price. For those who are health-conscious or love fruit, this classy buffet is worth trying.
DESERT is an Italian restaurant which prides itself in obtaining the freshest produce from various locations in Japan and bringing out their flavours in the best way through simple and daring recipes. For those who love oysters and want to enjoy the best oysters in Japan for a fixed price, you should definitely consider going for the oyster buffet here.
DESERT gets its oysters from various prefectures such as Hokkaido, Miyagi, Mie, Fukui, Hyogo, Hiroshima, and Fukuoka depending on the season. If you have a preference for oysters from a particular region, you may wish to take note of the following schedule which lists the period when oysters from a specific place are supplied:
- Mid-October to March: Lake Saroma in Hokkaido, Akkeshi-cho in Hokkaido, Uramura in Mie, and Ono in Hiroshima
- April to mid-June: Akkeshi-cho in Hokkaido, Uramura in Mie, and Ono in Hiroshima
- Mid-June to Mid October: Akkeshi-cho in Hokkaido and Ishinomaki in Miyagi
Despite differences in the supply of the oysters, the price of the buffet remains the same at 3,980 yen (excluding tax) regardless of when you visit. Note that there is a time limit of 90 minutes for the buffet and you will need to call for a reservation at least three days before you go. The minimum number of people to enjoy this buffet is two and you need to pay in cash. Be it enjoying your oysters fresh and raw, grilled or steamed, you will be able to eat to your heart’s content all year-round in Tokyo especially since such oysters buffets are relatively rare.
The restaurant is located on the second floor of the Roppongi 7th Building which can be accessed from the Exit 2 of Roppongi Station on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line and Oedo Line. Opening hours are from 6:00pm to 12:00 midnight on Mondays to Saturdays. The restaurant is not open on Sundays, public holidays, or the year-end and New Year holidays.
Having read about these unusual buffets, how about including them in your itinerary during your next trip to Tokyo? Eat as much as you can at a fixed price and take part in this unusual buffet treats!