Cheap Foods in Tokyo - Japan

August 07, 2014

This post is about cheap foods in Tokyo as so many people keep asking me about the expenses of my Japan trip. Tokyo is relatively one of the most expensive cities in Japan to eat, and maybe all around the world. But if you look closely and search well, you can have good and cheap restaurants all over the city. And it is easier to have good foods in Japan compared to bad food. Therefore, just walk into any restaurant, and be amazed by the quality of the food

Average price for a lunch set in Japan is 1000 Yen. You usually can have a lot of selections by 1000 Yen. But this post will cover some foods that are even cheaper than 1000 yen for each meal

Some might tell you that the cheapest would be cooking your own meal. But not everyone will stay on apartment with stove and cooking utensils, and while we're on a trip, might as well try their own foods right? ^^


I not only eat expensive foods but also cheap foods. I tried to balance out my gluttony in Tokyo. I am willing to pay for expensive but very very good meals, but when I am out of money or don't have friends to eat with, I prefer to have cheap foods

Some people assume that eating in Tokyo can cost you around 20-30USD at least per person and they're too afraid to enter restaurant and some might stick with McDonald instead. And I would be like "hello?? What era do you live?"

I know when I was 14 my mom often told me that tokyo's food is super expensive, but it's like many years ago. There were not so many people going to Japan back then, and informations are limited. Now we know the truth that yes, you can eat from 100 yen to 30.000 yen, depending on the place where you go and the food that you pick. If you eat sushi at Tsukiji until you get full and only order expensive fish, it will cost you 7000 - 10.000 yen 

BUT, it doesn't mean that eating in Tokyo will always be expensive

I myself prefer to have you guys pick restaurant by yourself because believe me, tour buffet / student buffet in Tokyo is not that good :x 

So here are some foods that you can have in tokyo that is budget friendly, and still tasty! 



Cheap Foods That You Can Find in Tokyo : 

p.s :  RATE USD TO YEN =  1 :  +/-102.14
RATE YEN TO IDR = 1 : +/- 115.33

1. Konbini Food [Convenience Store]

I always eat konbini food for breakfast on the way to train station because it is the cheapest breakfast I could have. Konbini means convenience store or we will know it better by minimart. Overseas we have 7-11 or lawson. I always have 1-2 onigiris and the price vary from 80 - 130 yen each. Also you can have sandwich with wide selections of fillings and they are very fresh!! The sandwich is a little bit more expensive as it's around 200 yen for 1 pack, consists of 2 pairs. As an asian who grew up with rice, I find onigiris are more filling, and besides it's cheaper. So I always recommend you for having your breakfast with Konbini Food! 


There is also some bread for you if you prefer more western breakfast. I recommend to try melon pan / melon bread as it appears a lot on mangas. The price of bread on konbini varies from 80 - 150 yen usually


If you want to have lunch or dinner, you can buy their bento that is usually around 400-600 yen. However I prefer to eat at restaurants instead because you can basically get meal with the same price. I heard that during late-night when the bento is about to be thrown out, you can purchase it with half-price. However I never had it because I would be too hungry to wait ^^;


2. Gyudon


Forget McDonald or Kentucky. I know some tourists might prefer to eat food chains that they have known the average price of it but seriously, American Fast Food is expensive there and can cost you 1000 yen or so as well for a set of menu. And I would rather throw my money to Japanese food since I was in Japan, right? 


Japanese Fast Food Chains providing Gyudon that are popular and easy to find would be Yoshinoya and Sukiya, with the price of a Gyudon Set as low as 290 yen!! Usually they would have sizes as well and a few selections of topping on top of rice. These food chains are japanese salarymen favourites due to its affordable price and a lot of choices available, moreover you can spot the shops everywhere around Tokyo so it's pretty easy to find


Example of Gyudon from Sukiya. Gyudon is a japanese beef bowl that is popular and delicious, and the one that I ordered comes with additional topping of cheese. And do you believe that it's just 350 yen? ^.^ 


3. Udon


Other food that I recommend is udon and seriously udon is very cheap in Japan. With price as low as 280 yen, you can have a few selections of how you want your udon to be cooked, and also you can have additional topping if you're willing to spend a little bit more money. Usually popular topping is tarako or mentaiko


For the sake of this blog post, I ordered the very simple udon, and it's the cheapest one. 280 yen. I pick udon that you eat by dipping it on the sauce [see the black water on the black bowl with spring onions?]. You get quite a lot of udon for yourself and the taste is fresh and the seasoning is perfect. I don't even need to buy additional tempura to accompany the udon, and best part is the staff won't even look at you strangely as if you're a poor guy. So rest assured and don't feel awkward to order very simple dish because you won't get that awkward look "so you just order this much?"


You can also have unlimited tempura flakes for free to have more variation on your udon and this one is so addictive! But make sure to always finish what you take. The udon shop that I visited have Ocha Bar [Green Tea] for both cold and hot, and in Japan the best thing is you can have your drinks for free! ^.^

Some shops only offer ocha, some shops only offer water, and some offer both. So I think it's pretty budget friendly if you can hold your needs of drinking unnecessary beverages because you only have to pay for food! 


Look at this amount of udon for 280 yen! ^.^ 
A big bowl of udon + tempura flakes + ocha = Great Deal!


4. Family Restaurant
Do you know where usually on mangas / animes the kids often want hamburg or pastas? We all love western food but you will love it more if it has a little bit of japanese touch. Japanese manage to have its own western inspired food and it's available on family restaurants. You can have western foods like salad, pasta, pizza, gratin, omelet and so on here

Dennys is the most popular family restaurant in Japan and you will see it many many times, and I have also tried another one named Saizeriya. The food selection is pretty wide and the taste is pretty decent.


For the menus you can right click and open the picture on new tab to read about the menu better
And look at it! A hamburg steak in Tokyo for as low as 399 yen!! And the most expensive one is only 979 yen!!

If you wish to fulfil your asian stomach, they also offer a set menu so you can order rice altogether with other side dishes with a little bit of money


The pasta can go as low as 299 yen!!


I really recommend you to have gratin in tokyo because the amount of cheese they put is a lot!! For as low as 299 yen for doria and 399 yen for pizza, you can't even complain


Taste wise, I prefer Dennys. But for money wise, Saizeriya is slightly cheaper. Sometimes they have limited item menus depending on the season. I saw Dennys offer foie grass hamburg for around 1000 yen or less and it's such a great deal!

Just prepare yourself because there will be many kids on the restaurant, but usually japanese kids are well mannered so they won't bother you that much. But just prepare, because kids are.. kids.


5. Ramen


Some ramen shops in Tokyo offer 1000 yen price and although we sometimes feel the more expensive the better, when talking about the taste of ramen, the price doesn't really matter. 500 yen ramen is pretty easy to find all over Tokyo and you have some slices of pork on top of it too!

For those of you who cannot eat pork, you can have vegetables ramen and it tastes good and fresh! There are also tsukemen which is noodle that you dip on a thick sauce and it is usually cold so it's awesome for summer season


Everyone's favourite ramen is of course Hakata Ramen. It means that it's ramen from Hakata / Fukuoka. Every area in Japan has its own ramen taste and it's pretty good to try other ramens as well. Like for sapporo ramen, they use corn and milk usually ^.^ 


6. Katsu or Tempura Set [Japanese Deep Fried Food]


I love tonkatsu restaurant a lot. Tonkatsu is Japanese deep fried pork with sauce and cabbages as side dish. The restaurant usually give you free all you can eat rice and cabbages, so a lot of students really love it. And most of the time the meat that they give to you are big so it's suitable for anyone who wants to eat cheap foods with big portion. Price of tonkatsu varies from 600-900 yen usually depends on the place and the meats. However I find that this kind of shop is a little bit difficult to find on big cities like Shibuya or Harajuku. You have to be on residential area or working area or student area to find it and it's usually family business so the place is mostly old houses

I personally love eating at old houses because I feel it's very authentic and the feeling of eating as if I were a japanese student is out of this world. The katsu is usually very good and very crunchy. The japanese rice used is also very soft and melts inside your mouth so I always have my second bowl of rice ^.^

Although tonkatsu is pretty popular, I also often eat their deep fried shrimp or tempura. I once ate a set of tempura + miso soup + rice + some side dishes for only 700 yen and it's super good!! The shrimp is very fresh and the crunchiness is just perfect. I can eat it while crying because it's just soooo good and it is really high quality food, things that can be around twice or thrice more expensive if we eat in Indonesia for the same quality


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There are other lesser known food chains as well that you can easily spot while looking around the city, like Chikara Meshi here


You can have cheap chinese foods and curry rice for around 300 yen and usually the portion is quite a lot!


Also there's this japanese breakfast set for 300-490 yen!!
You can have salmon, natto, pickled radish, miso soup, and half boiled egg. Some even has noodles set with additional seaweed and it's a pretty good deal!

There are a lot of other cheap and affordable foods available all over Japan but I hope this post has covered your question




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I think it won't be difficult to find cheap and affordable foods in tokyo as long as you're willing to search. However with cheap price there comes a minus point as well

Since the cheap food restaurants are demanded by many, so it is not a place to hang out and talk with your friends, moreover your business partners

These restaurants are mostly very noisy and the interior is not very appealing especially for teenagers. Most of the customers come there only to eat and then go back as fast as possible and you should have done the same since there will be some people waiting for your desk too


I usually have 2000 yen per day averagely for my food money and it is more than enough for me. I rely on konbini foods for breakfast, and I pick either I have 1000 yen meal on lunch or dinner, and another is cheap foods. 




I wrote this blog post for quite a long time and needs more effort than normal post because it's more like researching and compiling everything for 1 blog post and my only wish is to have you knowledge about foods that you can have in japan

I really hope this blogpost will be helpful for anyone who would like to visit Japan in the future. And also I hope anyone who read this will know that Japan is not that expensive anymore in terms of food, so it won't become any reason for you to not make it on your future travel list

I would say eating out in Japan and in Indonesia are basically around same price
Sometimes even in Indonesia could be more expensive since we have to pay for drinks and the tax is higher [Japan tax is 8%, Indonesia at least is 10% while some places charge up to 25% and additional service charge too urgh]



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