Hungry but on a Budget? Here Are 5 Affordable Restaurants in Tokyo

  • There are a lot of activities usually done by tourists during their visit to foreign cities such as sightseeing, shopping, and most importantly, eating. Yes, eating. Tasting the food when you are visiting foreign cities is a must thing to do and Tokyo (東京) is not an exception. Various kinds of cuisines exist throughout the city. For example, sushi, fresh seafood, ramen, yakitori, yakiniku, takoyaki, and Japanese sweets are the main dishes that you have to try when you visit Tokyo.

    However, eating expenses can be very high and it is going to be quite difficult to try everything especially if you are on a budget. For example, a bowl of good quality ramen can cost around 800 yen to 1,500 yen, dine-in at a sushi restaurant can cost you more than 4,000 yen, and a good yakiniku will make you spend more than 5,000 yen per person. You have a cheaper option for sushi if you go to conveyor belt sushi restaurants where most sushi are only 100 yen per plate. They also sometimes offer cheaper ramen. However, it is kind of difficult to find cheaper alternatives when it comes to yakiniku and fresh seafood.

    Well, not anymore! Because today, I will tell you about 5 restaurants in Tokyo where you can eat sushi, fresh seafood, ramen, and even Japanese-style pizza without having to spend too much of your yen in a day.

    1. Tokyo Station Buffet Chiso Zanmai (馳走三昧)

    Located on the 12th floor of Daimaru Tokyo (大丸東京店), Chiso Zanmai offers quite a good deal for everyone who loves to eat but does not want to spend too much money on it. This restaurant offers a buffet menu where you can eat everything they serve from sushi, pasta, chicken, beef, pork, fish, seafood, tempura, and even sweets.

    Their most popular menu and the reason why people come to this restaurant is their crab. With their buffet system, you can eat as much crab as you want. In addition, you can also choose your drink from their drink bar which serves you coffee, tea, soft drink, juice, and water. The drink bar is included in the buffet so you do not need to pay an additional fee for drinks unless you want beer or wine.

    Like most restaurants in Japan, price differs for lunch and dinner. The price for the lunch buffet is 1,944 yen on weekdays and 2,160 yen on weekends. Meanwhile, the price for the dinner buffet is 2,808 yen on weekdays and 3,024 yen on weekends.

    One thing you have to keep in mind is the time limit set by this restaurant. During lunch time, you can enjoy the buffet course for 90 minutes. The time limit is longer for dinner time which is 120 minutes or 2 hours.

    For a buffet under 3,500 yen, Chiso Zanmai offers a good deal for everyone who wants to enjoy many kinds of dishes with good taste and great portions. You can even enjoy a great night view from the 12th floor of Daimaru while enjoying your dinner.

    Chiso Zanmai Website *Automatic translation available

    2. Gyu-Kaku (牛角)

    Gyu-Kaku is a yakiniku restaurant where you can order a la carte or try out their all-you-can-eat (食べ放題) yakiniku. Having several branches outside Japan, you can easily find this restaurant almost everywhere around Tokyo. They have more than one branch in the Shibuya (渋谷), Harajuku (原宿), and Shinjuku (新宿) area which is very convenient for tourists.

    Starting from 700 yen, you can already taste juicy beef or pork grilled using either a charcoal or a normal stove. However, the recommended course in this restaurant is the all-you-can-eat where you can eat many kinds of meat in 90 minutes.

    Gyu-Kaku offers 3 different all-you-can-eat courses based on the kinds of meat you can order:

    1. The cheapest course is the “okigaru (お気軽)” course. The price for this course is 2,980 yen (before tax). With this course, you can order from 80 dishes on the menu as much as you want within the 90-minute time limit. You can order beef and pork with different kinds of seasoning. Salad, garlic, pickles, and soup are also included in this course.
    2. The second course is the “gyukaku” course which offers more menu than the first one. If the okigaru course only offers 80 dishes, with the gyukaku course, you can order from 100 dishes listed on the menu. You can order not only more kinds of meat but also seafood. You can even order ice cream, kimchi, salad, soup, and rice if you choose the gyukaku course. The price for this course is 3,480 yen (before tax) which is very well worth the money with the larger choice of meat of which some with higher quality. Gyukaku is the most popular course in this restaurant due to the decent price and good quality of meat.
    3. The third and most expensive course is the “tan-no (堪能)” course. The price for this course is 4,380 yen (before tax) but you can enjoy 120 dishes listed on the menu. Most of the dishes are similar to the gyukaku course. However, according to its name which means “satisfaction,” the tan-no course gives you more options of higher quality meat. You can even order cheese fondue so that you can enjoy dipping the meat in before eating it.

    Drinks are not included in the all-you-can-eat courses but you can order it for an additional fee if you want soft drinks or beer. Water is free, though!

    If you are a foreigner with limited or even no ability of Japanese language, no worries! The Gyu-Kaku branch in Shinjuku has an English menu and they will give you an iPad so there is no need to call the server whenever you want to order your meat. Just input the code listed on the menu beside the name of the meat you want into the iPad, then a few minutes later, it will be served to your table!

    IMPORTANT: During dinner time, Gyu-Kaku is usually full of people so it is better for you to come an hour or two before your planned time to eat and reserve your seat. They will call you when your seat is ready (so make sure you also put your phone number), but you can also wait in the waiting line in front of the restaurant.

    Gyu-Kaku Website *Japanese only
    Access (There are many branches, but we will introduce one of them here.)

    3. Isomaru Suisan (磯丸水産)

    Raw fish and seafood are what makes Japan popular. Many people in Tokyo come to Tsukiji to taste the best fish and seafood in the city. However, if you are staying in Tokyo for only a few days or do not really have time to go to Tsukiji, then this restaurant is a good place for your share of seafood!

    With many branches spread throughout Tokyo, the best Isomaru Suisan are the ones located in Shinjuku because of their accessible location. They have two branches in the area so you do not have to be worried about not having a seat. You can eat here for lunch before shopping, or eat dinner after a tiring day of walking around Shinjuku.

    Isomaru Suisan does not offer an all-you-can-eat course, but they sell their seafood starting from 500 yen depending on the type of seafood. They also serve seafood bowls (rice bowl topped with salmon, tuna, or even lobster meat) which you can get from 700 yen to 1,200 yen only. It is a great price because in other restaurants with the same menu, you need to pay at least 1,000 yen to 1,900 yen.

    Their most popular course is the one that costs 3,500 yen wherein you can get 3 different dishes consisting of shrimp, crab butter, salmon, tuna, squid, and sushi rolls. It is a good offer because you can try their fresh seafood except for clams. You can add clams for an additional fee if you want it, though.

    The fresh seafood served in this restaurant are very good and you can get them without having to spend too much money. Their locations are also strategic and most importantly, they have English menus for anyone who cannot speak and read Japanese.

    Isomaru Suisan Website *Japanese only
    Access (There are many branches, but we will introduce one of them here.)

    4. Shakey’s (シェーキーズ)

    After a few days of traveling in Japan and tasting its food, or maybe after living in Japan for almost a year, you probably feel a little bit tired of Japanese food and want something different. Or maybe you just want some fast food but you’re too bored with McDonald’s, KFC, Lotteria, etc. If that is the case, then you probably need pizza!

    To buy pizza in Japan, you can go to Pizza Hut or Domino’s Pizza. But buying pizza in those stores do not give you something different and you probably will not be satiated with only one box of pizza. So try to go to Shakey’s and find yourself in a restaurant that lets you eat as much pizza as you want without a time limit. Yes, most Shakey’s restaurants in Tokyo (except for their Yomiuriland-よみうりランド branch) do not give you a time limit. All you need to do is pay first and then you can eat as much pizza as you want.

    The prices for their lunch, dinner, and holiday buffets differ for every branch so it is better if you check out their page for more detailed information.

    Shakey’s Website
    Access (There are many branches, but we will introduce one of them here.)

    5. THE OVEN American Buffet

    The huge Gundam statue, shopping malls, the view of the Rainbow Bridge, amusement parks, museums, the Fuji TV building, and much more have made Odaiba (お台場) the no. 1 area to visit during your stay in Tokyo. Recently, tourists are always going to Odaiba especially for shopping and sightseeing. After a day of shopping and walking around on a good or even rainy day, to feel hungry is not an uncommon thing. However, finding a restaurant can be quite stressful during lunch time or dinner time. Moreover, if you are a Muslim tourist, it becomes even more difficult to find food in Japan. But, THE OVEN American Buffet in Odaiba might help you with finding food.

    Located on the 6th floor of AQUA CiTY ODAIBA, THE OVEN offers all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-drink, and all-you-can-eat dessert menus combined in one price. For the lunch buffet, the price is 1,700 yen; while for the dinner buffet, the price is 2,500 yen.

    This restaurant has a variety of dishes ranging from Japanese food to Chinese Food and even Mexican Food that suit both adults and children. You can even eat juicy roast meat in this restaurant and many other dishes that will definitely satisfy your taste buds and stomach. THE OVEN also serves several options for dessert such as ice cream, cake, pudding, and fruits.

    In addition, one thing that makes THE OVEN different from other buffet restaurants is the availability of halal food. They offer several halal dishes other than seafood or fish that can be enjoyed by Muslim visitors. I personally think that the availability of halal food makes this restaurant worth visiting by Muslim tourists who often find it difficult to buy food in Japan.

    I think THE OVEN is a good option for a buffet restaurant in Odaiba because with its reasonable prices, you can enjoy good food and even a good view of Tokyo Bay by choosing the table at their balcony area.

    THE OVEN American Buffet Website *Japanese only

    So now that you have read this post, try to go to one (if not all) of the restaurants listed above when you run out of ideas of where to eat in Tokyo. Or when you are on a budget but still want to enjoy stomach-fulfilling food in Tokyo, definitely refer to this list and pick the restaurant that suits you best! The 5 restaurants above are listed based on my personal experience so my opinion might differ from others that have also visited them.

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