If you’re not careful, eating out in Tokyo is an easy way to punch a bigger hole in your travel budget than you’d like. Still, while splurging in one of the city’s myriad Michelin-starred or otherwise acclaimed restaurants is a worthwhile treat if you can afford it, you certainly don’t have to break the bank to eat well in Tokyo.
Sushi: Sushi tops most travellers’ must-eat list, but dedicated sit-down sushi restaurants tend to be exceptionally pricey. Instead, hunt down one of the many outlets for Uogashi Nihon-ichi, stand-up sushi joints with fresh, high quality fish and prices low enough for guilt-free feasting. The Shibuya branch, not far from Shibuya Crossing, is particularly pleasant.
The many conveyor belt sushi restaurants are also a good value—quality is generally good, but varies—while depachikas and major train stations, like Tokyo Station, have high quality sushi (and other foods) at reasonable prices, as well.
Depachikas: Speaking of depachikas, these heavenly subterranean food halls are probably the best places to stock up on gourmet snacks without splurging, from freshly made seafood salads to delicate tempura and beautiful baked goods and desserts. You’ll find them in the basement of all major department stores.
Curries, Noodles, and Tempura: Yoshinoya, Go! Go! Curry, CoCo Ichibanya, Tenya, and Matsuya are among the best casual chain restaurants offering hot, filling, and generally delicious food cost around ¥500 (US$4.90) or less for a plate/bowl. Many outlets use automated coin machines for ordering.
Convenience Stores: In Tokyo you never have to go far to find a Family Mart, 7-11, Lawson, or other convenience store. Though the selection varies from store to store, here you’ll find noodles, sushi, curries, sandwiches, rice balls, and ready-made meals in the refrigerated sections, all perfect for fresh, quick and reasonably tasty refuelling. Most stores have microwaves for customer use, as well as small seating areas.