Tajima1/4
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima
Sushi Daidokoya2/4
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa
Tempura Abe3/4
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa
Butagumi Shokudo4/4

Best cheap eats in Tokyo

Your ultimate guide to finding the best cheap restaurants and good value food in Tokyo – all for ¥1,000 or less

By Time Out Tokyo Editors
Advertising

Want to feast in one of the world’s best food cities without breaking the bank? No worries – Tokyo’s got you covered. While life in the capital may not be getting any cheaper, the city hasn't lost the appetite for quality food at a great prices. Tokyoites love to eat out – a lot – and this makes Tokyo one of the best cities in the world for a great meal at a low price.

Whether you’re feeling like a comforting bowl of ramen, udon, some sushi or even a fresh pizza, we’ve scoured Tokyo to pick out 30 restaurants where you can get your fix, whatever you might be craving. Plus, many of these meals can easily cost you less than ¥1,000 (excluding tax), so you can eat a big meal and save some spare cash.

RECOMMENDED: Now that you've got your meals covered, here's how to enjoy Tokyo on a budget

Noodles

Menchirashi 麺散
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Menchirashi

Restaurants Harajuku

Tucked away in an alley off Cat Street, Menchirashi is a stylish space to savour house-made udon noodles amongst Harajuku’s fashionable crowd. But don’t let its American-diner-with-hip-Japanese-twist interior deter you: prices here are very reasonable, with most udon dishes priced below ¥1,000.

Menchirashi is known for its fried-to-order tempura and onigiri rice balls, both of which make perfect accompaniments to a bowl of udon...

Neiroya ねいろ屋
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Neiroya

Restaurants Ramen Ogikubo

This homely Ogikubo restaurant offers creative takes on ramen, cooling kakigori (shaved ice desserts) and aromatic curries. It’s best known, however, for its soupless lemon soba (¥950), thin noodles served dry or ‘maze’-style, mixed with toppings and sauce on a plate rather than in a bowl. If you prefer something soupy, go for the shoyu-based (¥850) or chicken and sardine-based ramen (¥950)...

Advertising

Ebisoba Ichigen

Restaurants Kyobashi

Originating from Sapporo, this cosy restaurant is justly famed for its prawn-stock ramen, made by boiling down the heads of red shrimp to extract their briny, umami sweetness and then nished o with pork back fat and shrimp oil. It’s a luscious soup that tastes of the ocean and you’ll want to clean out your bowl.

For a bargain ¥830 you can choose either the aforementioned shrimp soup or one with the addition of pork, plus a seasoning: miso, salt or soy sauce...

Fuku Soba
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

Fuku Soba

Restaurants Ningyocho

This unassuming noodle shop is tucked away on a side street in Ningyocho and offers a standing-only counter for hungry slurpers. Tickets for both soba and udon can be purchased at the vending machine, with options starting from a mere ¥310. But what makes Fuku Soba special is its tempura, deep-fried toppings in the form of crispy discs, featuring ingredients such as beni shoga (pickled ginger), small sakura shrimp, burdock or a carrot-and-onion mix (also called kakiage). A tempura soba will only set you back ¥440, with additional fritters priced at ¥130 a piece.

Advertising

Oreryu Shio Ramen

Restaurants Nakameguro

Oreyu’s diverse ramen menu lists more than 30 options – so if you’re feeling overwhelmed, just go with the classics. The Oreryu shio ramen (¥670) is a clean, light-tasting yet flavourful bowl topped with a tender slice of pork, spring onions, spinach and mushrooms. The Oreryu juku shio ramen, on the other hand, is more customisable as it offers three broth options; our pick is the jukusei (rich salt), which features a creamy pure chicken bone broth (no dairy added!)...

Gonbei
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Gonbei

Restaurants Japanese Waseda

This small, warmly lit udon shop in the vicinity of Waseda University offers top-notch noodles on a student-friendly budget. Udon sets start at ¥450 and include free refills of takikomi gohan (rice seasoned with dashi broth and vegetables), while the menu also offers several variations of dipping noodles such as chilled sesame, as well as hot broths like the warming winter favourite of nikujaga (meat and potato) udon. Get there before noon or after 1pm to avoid the lunch rush.

Seafood

Tajima
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Tajima

Restaurants Nakano-Sakaue

Quality seafood at a reasonable price is hard to come by, making Tajima’s lunch offerings so hard to beat. Located just outside Nakano-Sakaue Station, this serene sushi restaurant offers three seafood donburi rice bowls for ¥1,000 each: a kaisendon topped with fresh seafood, a zeitakudon topped with mixed minced seafood (tuna, octopus, salmon roe, whitebait, etc), and a bakudandon with the aforementioned minced seafood, natto (fermented soybeans) and a raw egg. Prefer sushi? You can also get a seven-piece nigiri set with maki rolls and tamagoyaki (egg roll) for just ¥1,000. All the lunch dishes come with miso soup plus a side dish.

Sushi Daidokoya
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

Sushi Daidokoya

Restaurants Shibuya

Founded in 1979, Shibuya’s first kaitenzushi (conveyor-belt sushi) offers fresh seafood from Toyosu Market, and with plates starting at ¥120, you can happily fill up for under ¥1,000. At lunch (until 2.30pm), donburi rice bowls cost ¥500-700 and include a bowl of miso soup. Donburi toppings are seasonal, but you can expect combinations like salmon, ikura (salmon roe) and uni (sea urchin) in the Hokkaido-don, and lightly pickled sh in the zuke-don. Sushi Daidokoya is a brisk five-minute stroll from Shibuya Station.

Advertising

Unatoto

Restaurants Japanese Nakano

Unagi (grilled freshwater eel) is considered a delicacy, but this low-key and inviting eatery offers this luxurious dish as a quick and affordable meal. An unadon, grilled eel glazed with a sweet-savoury sauce over white rice, costs as little as ¥550. For ¥880, you can get hitsumabushi, a speciality from Aichi prefecture which resembles the unaju (unagi served in a rectangular lacquer box) and should be enjoyed in two ways. First, you eat the eel and rice with a dash of wasabi. Then mix things up by pouring dashi broth into your rice and eat the unagi as you would ochazuke (a homely dish of broth and rice).

Echigoya Hachikichi
Photo: Yuki Nakamura

Echigoya Hachikichi

Restaurants Japanese Higashi-Ginza

Specialising in himono fish dishes for under ¥1,000 a set, this favourite haunt of Ginza office workers serves up authentic teishoku (set meal) at lunch. The term ‘himono’ refers to the process of partially drying fish so that the flesh becomes sweeter and more succulent, a curing method that dates back to the Nara period (710-794) – himono was once offered to the royal court as a gift. Most of the dishes here, such as mackerel with crispy skin and salmon, are grilled over charcoal. Sets come with rice, grated daikon radish, miso soup and sesame spinach.

Advertising
Nihonbashi-Tenpurameshi Kaneko-Hannosuke
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

Nihonbashi-Tenpurameshi Kaneko-Hannosuke

Restaurants Nihonbashi

It’s rare to find a cheap and cheerful tempura course in Tokyo, so forgive us for slightly stretching our budget to include this Nihonbashi fritter fixer. The tempura here is exemplary. The batter is light and airy, a thin coat of addictive crispness. The ingredients, meanwhile, are the star – perfectly cooked while still maintaining their natural juices and flavours. It’s how good tempura should be: textural, flavourful and easy on the wallet. For just ¥1,080 (before tax), you’ll get nine feather-light items including shrimp, whiting, squid, maitake mushroom plus an oozy egg served straight from the fryer, along with rice and clam miso soup.

Rice meals

Dayone

Restaurants Harajuku

Ochazuke is a comforting Japanese dish of rice topped with various ingredients, with freshly brewed tea (ocha) or stock poured over it just before serving. At Dayone, where the ochazuke are made with fresh and seasonal ingredients, you can expect a nourishing meal with staples like marinated tuna with yam, salmon with roe, and house-made charsiu with pork bone broth, all for ¥980 each. Your rice meal also comes with texture- and flavour-enhancing condiments like spring onions, seaweed and arare (small rice crackers), along with a small platter of pickles and a pot of tea or broth that has been especially paired with your main dish.

Nakayoshi Hanare

Restaurants Japanese Shibuya

At this unassuming Shibuya Stream restaurant, a branch of the original in Ebisu founded 40 years ago, you can expect homely dishes at an affordable price. Classic Japanese fare such as salt-grilled mackerel, pork and aubergine stir-fry, and deep-fried chicken karaage are served as set meals, accompanied by rice (cooked in a claypot, no less), miso soup, pickles and a side dish. Prices start from just ¥900 and very rarely exceed ¥1,000 – save for the seasonal specials, which are always worth considering.

Advertising
Onigiri Bongo ぼんご
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Otsuka Bongo

Restaurants Otsuka

Onigiri is the perfect one-handed food – soft, steamy rice with a savoury filling wrapped in crisp nori seaweed. It’s cheap and quick, known more for its sustenance than flavour, and easily found at many takeaway and convenience stores. But at Onigiri Bongo, the humble dish is elevated into a thoughtful, proper meal. The menu features more than 50 fillings, including classics like ume plum and salmon flakes as well as unconventional combos like bacon and cheese, and curry and beef. The onigiri start at ¥260 while lunch sets go from ¥600 and come with two rice balls of your choice plus unlimited tofu miso soup...

Tempura Abe
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

Tempura Abe

Restaurants Japanese Ginza

The shopping enclave of Ginza is the last place you’d expect to find a Bib Gourmand meal for just ¥1,000. But on weekday lunchtimes, this anomaly of a restaurant, tucked away in a narrow basement in a back alley, serves excellent tendon (tempura on rice) for just that. It’s a steal, considering dinner here will set you back at least ¥3,500.

This place has serious pedigree: the proprietor Chef Abe had previously worked at Nadaman, one of the city’s top Japanese restaurants, for 30 years. Prawn tempura is a speciality...

Advertising

Omusubi Stand Andon

Restaurants Japanese Nihonbashi

Visit this charming multi-purpose space at weekends for the bargain lunch set, where two onigiri, a hearty soup and pickles is just ¥650. Omusubi Stand Andon comprises four floors: the first houses the onigiri stand, while the second offers a library and eat-in space.

Andon uses premium rice from Akita prefecture while the fillings come in tried-and-tested flavours such as ume plum, salmon, minced meat in miso, chirimen sansho (dried whitebait mixed with sansho pepper) and iburigakko cheese (smoked takuan pickles with cream cheese), to name just a few...

Meat

Butagumi Shokudo

Restaurants Japanese Roppongi

At this convenient Roppongi eatery you’ll find one of the best pork tonkatsu in central Tokyo. The lunch deal, available daily until 4.30pm, is exceptional – you get a perfectly fried piece of pork loin, coated with crisp, golden panko, and served with bottomless rice and shredded cabbage, plus miso soup and pickles, for just ¥1,000 (though it’s listed as ¥1,100 after tax).

If you want to splurge, premium pork options costing close to ¥3,000 are available. But the standard pork is no slouch: depending on the day, you could get an Okinawan meat raised on herbs or a breed from Chiba that feeds on sweet potatoes.

Tare-Katsu Shibuya

Restaurants Shibuya

On days when you’re craving something substantial and a little greasy – don’t worry, we’ve all had them – it’s hard to beat katsu over rice. Pork fillet crumbed with panko and deep-fried, and then drizzled with a generous amount of sweet, mildly tangy katsu sauce, is irresistibly moreish. While most katsu joints offer pork and not much else, here you can pick your own katsudon toppings from classic pork katsu to shrimp and even assorted vegetables like aubergine, shiitake mushroom and pumpkin. A four-piece pork katsudon or a two-piece katsudon with breaded veggies are ¥880 each.

Advertising

Hanuri Shinbashi

Restaurants Korean Shinbashi

Visit Korean barbecue restaurant Hanuri for lunch and you can experience a GIY (grill-it-yourself) beef meal for as little as ¥890. You’ll get 110g of beef – either short ribs, skirt steak, shoulder or tongue – and if this isn’t enough, ¥500 will get you an extra 60g. Included in the price is an all-you-can-eat self-service salad bar, where you can stock up on the likes of pickled daikon, shaved cabbage, miso soup, steamed rice, tea and more. Hanuri has several locations in Tokyo but we favour the Shinbashi one for its sweeping 8th-floor views. In the evenings, plates of meat start at around ¥1,280 per person, and salads cost ¥690.

Torikatsu Chicken とりかつチキン
Photo Kisa Toyoshima

Torikatsu Chicken

Restaurants Shibuya

This hidden gem of a restaurant looks like it’s stuck in the ’70s, from its location in a forgotten back-alley building and old-school interior to its surprisingly low prices. It specialises in cutlets – meat and vegetables breaded with panko and deep-fried.

The popular set meal, which comes with a chicken cutlet, ham cutlet and croquette plus rice, miso soup and shredded cabbage, is only ¥700 – it’s arguably the best-value meal in central Shibuya...

Advertising

Yakiniku Like Shibuya Udagawacho

Restaurants Shibuya

While yakiniku (grilled meat) restaurants mostly cater to group dining, the multi-branch Yakiniku Like chain offers solo-diner grills – with great success. Today, it has restaurants across Tokyo, including Shinbashi, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Akihabara and Ueno; most outlets also offer a few tables for two.

The menu is highly customisable: choose your cut of beef (or that one pork option) and the quantity, with prices starting from just ¥220 per 50g. Add another ¥200 for a bowl of rice (refillable between 11am to 5pm), soup and kimchi. The set meals are even more affordable; the cheapest of which is only ¥530 for 100g of meat plus the aforementioned accompaniments.

Ginza Shabutsu

Restaurants Japanese Ginza

For more than 20 years, Ginza Shabutsu has been a local favourite for shabu-shabu (Japanese hotpot), thanks to its fresh ingredients and excellent value for money. At lunch, ¥880 will get you a plate of finely sliced pork, beef, duck or beef tongue; a combination of two is ¥930. The staff will fire up your pot of light chicken broth, then bring you your banquet: a plate piled high with tofu, cabbage, carrots and bean noodles; an array of condiments like ponzu (citrus and soy dipping sauce) and the signature sesame sauce made from no fewer than 20 ingredients; your selected meat; and a bowl of steamed rice...

Misc

Kushikatsu Tanaka
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

Kushikatsu Tanaka Daikanyama

Restaurants Daikanyama

Kushikatsu – ingredients dipped in breadcrumbs and deep-fried until crisp and golden – were invented in the early 1900s and grew in popularity during the wartime era when workers sought fast and affordable meals. Kushikatsu Tanaka in Daikanyama is a great place to sample this cheap and cheerful dish, with plenty to satisfy vegetarians, seafood- and meat-lovers alike. The crisp lotus root is a perennial favourite, as are the juicy shiitake mushrooms and tender prawns, all for just ¥100-200 a stick – or go straight for the ¥500 deal, which offers five selected sticks...

Garage 50
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

Garage 50

Restaurants Pizza Kichijoji

For a unique eating-out experience, bypass the generic Italian restaurants and head straight for Garage 50 in Kichijoji, where the pizzas are cooked in a retrofitted VW van. It’s hipster, sure, and you’ll be eating off paper plates while sitting on a stool in a garage, but the pizza is of exceptional value at ¥600. The inside of the vehicle has been refurbished to fit a pizza oven and the owner makes each pie fresh upon order. You can’t go wrong with the prosciutto topped with a soft egg, or the basil mascarpone.

Advertising
Hayashiya
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Hayashiya

Restaurants Shinjuku

Within the flashing neon lights and clutter of Shinjuku, you can take refuge in the calm, old-worldly charm of Hayashiya, tucked into the 5th floor of a high-rise building. It serves yoshoku – Japanese-style Western food – and the menu has barely changed since it opened in 1949. Signature dishes include the omurice (¥720), a paper-thin omelette cocooned around chicken fried rice and drizzled with ketchup, and the cheese hamburg (hamburger patty; ¥880). An extensive drinks list features wine from all over the world as well as Japanese craft sake.

Fukuho Gyoza
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Fukuho Gyoza

Restaurants Japanese Shinjuku-Nichome

Cheap and cheerful, Fukuho Gyoza offers plates of six dumplings for just ¥290. While the gyoza are nothing fancy, they are substantial and filling, available with or without garlic, boiled or fried. To spruce up your meal, the ¥250 sides include pickled cabbage, miso cucumber, fried burdock and dandan tofu. Complete your meal with rice (either served straight or topped with minced meat) and you’ll be satisfactorily sated, with your wallet barely dented. Here with friends (or just very hungry)? An order of 18 gyoza comes in at only ¥790.

Advertising
Ponipirica
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

Ponipirica

Restaurants Shimokitazawa

Hailing from Hokkaido, soup curry is characterised by a flavourful broth infused with a bounty of spices, tender chicken cooked on the bone, and ladened with a rainbow assortment of fresh vegetables like baby corn, lotus root, pumpkin, turnip, sweet potato and aubergine. Hip Shimokitazawa is Tokyo’s soup curry hot spot, and with its relaxed vibe and eclectic interior Ponipirica is particularly popular. The ¥1,000 lunch (11.30am-3.30pm) includes the day’s soup curry plus rice, salad and a drink. At dinner, curry prices start from ¥1,000; choose from fish, vegetables-only, chicken or pork-shabu curry.

Citron

Restaurants French Gaienmae

French café Citron has an appropriately stylish interior for its trendy Gaienmae location, with polished concrete walls, low-set timber tables and windowsills lined with flowers. And the food fits the bill – think healthy, colourful vegetarian fare like quiche, vegetable gratin, sandwiches and salads. There are always vegan options for soups, desserts and sandwiches.

For ¥960, you can enjoy the daily quiche or gratin – such as the red onion, mozzarella and rosemary quiche, or the celery, potato, parmesan and mustard gratin – both of which come with a small salad...

Advertising

Ebisu Bánh Mì Bakery

Restaurants Vietnamese Ebisu

Flavoursome Vietnamese fast food is the name of the game at this low-key Ebisu sandwich joint. The excellent baguettes, made in-house, are stuffed with mouthwatering ingredients: we love the roast pork and pâté option, as well as the grilled chicken satay with green onions. There are nine sandwich choices (small from ¥400; large from ¥580) while a banh mi set with a drink, soup or salad is an extra ¥150-200. With prices this low, you won’t mind that there are just a scattering of stools should you decide to eat in.

Kura

Restaurants Italian Shibuya

A tidy, functional Italian restaurant, Kura has a good line in fresh pasta, of which the options are extensive, separated into broad categories including soy-sauce pasta, curry pasta, salt- based pasta, creamy pasta and tomato pasta. There’s even a small selection of Japanese- style pastas featuring natto (fermented bean) and cod roe.

Lunch offers the best deal, with prices ranging from ¥650 for the peperoncino pasta to ¥1,100 for the domestic beef and mushroom option (dinner prices hike up to ¥900-1,200)...

More great restaurants in Tokyo

Tsukemen Gonokami Seisakusho 五ノ神製作所
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Best ramen in Tokyo

Restaurants Ramen

From old-school noodles and tonkotsu classics to soupless tsukemen and spicy favourites – you'll be bowled over by these ramen

Advertising
Advertising

Best izakaya in Tokyo

Restaurants Japanese

We’ve rounded up some of our favourite English-friendly izakaya: the same rowdy fun, but without the language barriers

Recommended

    You may also like

      Advertising