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Neiroya ねいろ屋1/5
Photo: Kisa ToyoshimaNeiroya
Tonkatsu Hasegawa2/5
Photo: Lim Chee WahTonkatsu Hasegawa
Chukakosai Jasmine3/5
Photo: Lim Chee WahChukakosai Jasmine
Toritsune Shizendo4/5
Photo: Kisa ToyoshimaToritsune Shizendo
Soba Yakko5/5
Photo: Kisa ToyoshimaSoba Yakko

17 best cheap Michelin-starred meals in Tokyo

Michelin-starred restaurants aren’t all expensive. Here’s how you can enjoy a top-rated meal for ¥1,500 – or less

By Jessica Thompson and Lim Chee Wah
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We know Tokyo is the best food city on the planet. But don’t just take our word for it – the metropolis has the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants of any city in the world. As of 2020, Tokyo has 212 restaurants with Michelin stars – and that’s not even counting the many restaurants that were conferred Bib Gourmand status for their 'exceptionally good food at moderate prices'.

While eating at a Michelin-starred restaurant is high on the to-do list for any foodie, in most places around the world, those fancy meals can really eat into your budget. Luckily in Tokyo, you can still eat at some top-rated restaurants on the cheap. 

Many of these restaurants offer affordable lunch sets, which are often designed to give you a taste of the more elaborate dinner menu. Here are some Michelin-starred and Bib Gourmand restaurants in Tokyo where you can enjoy a meal without breaking the bank.

Note: these restaurants/cafés/shops might close early depending on the current Covid-19 measures imposed by the authorities. Please check with the individual outlets for the latest business hours.

RECOMMENDED: The best cheap eats in Tokyo

The Michelin cheap list

Onigiri Asakusa Yadoroku | Time Out Tokyo
Onigiri Asakusa Yadoroku | Time Out Tokyo
Photo: Time Out Tokyo

Onigiri Asakusa Yadoroku

Restaurants Asakusa

Bib Gourmand / onigiri starting from ¥280

Located just behind Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, Yadoroku is the oldest onigiri specialist in Tokyo. Choose from a range of different toppings including salmon, ume (plum), tarako (pollock roe), shirasu (white bait) and okaka (dried bonito flakes), all for an affordable ¥280-330. Lunch sets are available from ¥690 and include two rice balls, miso soup with tofu, and takuan (pickled radish). The place stays open until 2am – perfect if you're craving a late-night snack.

Okei
Okei
Photo: Time Out Tokyo

Okei

Restaurants Iidabashi

Bib Gourmand / dishes starting from ¥600

A neighbourhood favourite, Okei serves gyoza to the same recipe it has used since the store opened in 1954. This means more than 60 years of refining and perfecting the formula, and it shows: crisp on one side, chewy on the other, with a juicy and flavourful filling of cabbage, ground pork and garlic chives. 

You'll see placards on the benchtop advising you on toppings, as well as the house recommendation for the golden ratio of soy sauce, vinegar and chilli oil. A plate of six gyoza will cost you just (¥600), but the shop makes just 1,440 gyoza each day and often sells out before closing time, so we recommend going as early as possible.

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Shinjuku Kappo Nakajima | Time Out Tokyo
Shinjuku Kappo Nakajima | Time Out Tokyo
Photo: Lim Chee Wah

Shinjuku Kappo Nakajima

Restaurants Shinjuku

One Michelin star / set lunch from ¥800

For a Michelin-starred restaurant, Nakajima serves possibly the cheapest lunch in town. While the kaiseki courses are priced upwards of ¥15,000 during dinner, you can enjoy the set lunches from a mere ¥800. These are substantial meals too, complete with rice, miso soup, pickles and tea.

Sardines are the star at lunch, and there are four main course options: you can have them deep-fried; simmered in shoyu stock; as sashimi marinated in sesame and ginger; and our favourite, the yanagawa nabe set. The latter is classic comfort food – a casserole dish of deep-fried sardines in a bubbling shoyu broth, topped with egg and onions.

Do note that the lunch queue starts even before the restaurant opens at 11.30am, and that the restaurant advises against bringing children aged under six.

Ginza Hachigo
Ginza Hachigo
Photo: Lim Chee Wah

Ginza Hachigo

Restaurants Ramen Higashi-Ginza

Bib Gourmand / ramen starting from ¥850

Ginza Hachigo’s ramen soup is like consommé: a clear liquid gold that’s light yet complex and full of flavour. It’s made by boiling down Nagoya Cochin chicken, duck, scallop, dried tomatoes and shiitake mushrooms, konbu (seaweed), an heirloom green onion from Kyoto and surprisingly, cured ham. And it’s just phenomenal. 

Even better, this bowl of ramen will only set you back ¥850; throw in an extra ¥100 and you’ll get a perfect boiled egg with a gooey yolk.

To secure your spot here, you’ll have to put down a ¥1,000 deposit for a ticket, which will be distributed from 9am for lunch and 4pm for dinner. Be warned though, there will always be a line – but it’ll be one of the best bowls of ramen you’ll have in Tokyo.

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Neiroya ねいろ屋
Neiroya ねいろ屋
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Neiroya

Restaurants Ogikubo

Bib Gourmand / ramen starting from ¥850

Come for the ramen, stay for the kakigori. That’s right, this homely Ogikubo restaurant specialises in two of Japan’s classic treats. The store’s creative take on ramen includes its renowned Setouchi lemon ramen (¥900), where thin wheat noodles are combined with steaming chicken broth, and topped with an ample seasoning of lemon, salt, black pepper and chicken chashu – a unique spin on the more traditional pork chashu. 

If you prefer something on the conventional side, you’ll find ramen made on a soy sauce base (¥850) and a chicken and sardine base (¥950). The artful seasonal kakigori (¥1,000) are a favourite for a sweet ending to a meal. 

トイボックス
トイボックス
Kisa Toyoshima

Toy Box

Restaurants Ramen Minami-Senju

Bib Gourmand / ramen starting from ¥850

While Toy Box in Minowa offers shio (salt) and miso ramen, the Tokyo-style soy sauce-based ramen is the star here (all ¥850 each). The stock is made with only local free-range chicken and water, combined with nine different kinds of soy sauce to give the broth a deep, yet uncomplicated flavour. The thin, flat noodles made from Hokkaido wheat complement the soup well and the bowl is topped off with menma bamboo shoots and a slice of tender chashu pork. For an additional ¥100, you can get the optional (and highly recommended) ajitsuke tamago (ramen egg), or, for an additional ¥200, house-made wontons.

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Dhaba India | Time Out Tokyo
Dhaba India | Time Out Tokyo
Photo: Dhaba India

Dhaba India

Restaurants Indian Kyobashi

Bib Gourmand / dishes starting from ¥900

At Dhaba India in Kyobashi, you’ll find a menu specialising in the fragrant cuisine of southern India, a subtropical region with coconut fields and abundant fresh seafood. On weekdays, Dhaba India offers four lunch sets ranging from ¥900 to ¥1,300, with curry options served with various combinations of naan, soup, sambal and dosa (crisp Indian crêpes made of rice flour and lentils). 

While weekend lunch goes above ¥1,500, you can head to Dhaba India for dinner any night of the week and try a dosa with sambal and two kinds of chutney for ¥1,220, or a masala dosa, stir-fried potato, onion and green chilli wrapped in a crêpe, served with sambal and chutney for ¥1,430.

Kyorakutei soba
Kyorakutei soba
Photo: Lim Chee Wah

Kyorakutei

Restaurants Japanese Iidabashi

Bib Gourmand / soba starting from ¥900

In the front window of Kyourakutei, you can watch soba noodles made from scratch: the stone-grinding of the buckwheat grains, dough being kneaded, and finally, the long, soft tendrils being cut. Inside the store, the retro atmosphere is charming and relaxing, putting you at ease to choose from Kyorakutei's extensive selection of soba. 

For ¥1,500 and under, you can get soba served both hot and cold with toppings like fish cakes, thin slices of pork belly, and creamy yuba (tofu skin). If you’re a true soba enthusiast, you can try noodles made with both 100% soba (buckwheat) flour and 80:20 soba to wheat flour – the pure soba noodles are known for being darker and firmer, with a nuttier taste. The chefs here are extremely selective in sourcing all their ingredients, from the soba grains to wasabi, salt, and even the kombu seaweed for the dashi, so you know you’re getting the best.

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Nakiryu

Restaurants Ramen Otsuka

One Michelin star / ramen from ¥900

The second ramen restaurant in Tokyo to get a Michelin star after Tsuta, Nakiryu ('crying dragon') is known for its house special dandanmen, a testament to its quality. A noodle dish originating from Szechuan in China, dandanmen is characterised by its spicy soup and distinctive use of sesame seed.

Lesser restaurants tend to produce a heavier soup that can get a tad cloying – but not Nakiryu. The red pepper-based version here is as light as shoyu ramen, a very refined bowl but still gutsy. There’s a good punch of chilli heat coupled with the rich nuttiness of sesame seed, while the noodles are firm to the bite. You can even opt for extra spicy for an additional ¥50.

On the menu, you’ll also find shoyu and shio ramen, along with rice bowls. Topping (all day) and side order (evening only) options include thin and thick pieces of grilled pork, shrimp wonton and more. Don’t mind the queue; since everyone is limited to just a bowl of noodles, you won’t have to wait that long, relatively speaking. 

Soba Yakko
Soba Yakko
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Soba Yakko

Restaurants Japanese Gakugei-Daigaku

Bib Gourmand / soba starting from ¥900

If you haven’t been to Soba Yakko, it’s easy to walk past the little timber-framed entrance. But if you have been before, you won’t be able to walk past without stopping in for some of the excellent 100% buckwheat soba noodles. Just a few minutes’ walk from Gakugeidaigaku station, Soba Yakko has a welcoming blend of homeliness and sophistication. A long wooden counter runs the length of the open kitchen, and noodles are made by hand in the compact room at the front of the restaurant. 

The soba menu includes both hot and cold soba ranging from ¥900 to ¥1,300. We love the nito soba (¥1,300), a bamboo plate topped with chilled soba and accompanied by two dipping sauces tsuyu (soy sauce and dashi), and goma (sesame). The oroshi soba (¥950), a bowl of chilled noodles in tsuyu broth, topped with a mound of grated daikon and bonito flakes, is both refreshing and satisfying.

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Sobahouse Konjikihototogisu
Sobahouse Konjikihototogisu
Sobahouse Konjikihototogisu(Photo: Time Out Tokyo)

Konjiki Hototogisu

Restaurants Ramen Shinjuku-Nichome

One Michelin star / ramen from ¥950

Sobahouse Konjiki Hototogisu is only the third ramen restaurant in the world to get a star (awarded in 2019, after Tsuta and Nakiryu). The signature shouyu soba is made from three types of soup stock – pork broth, wa-dashi (Japanese stock) and hamaguri clam dashi – and topped with truffle sauce as well as porcini oil and flakes for that bold umami punch.

However, the restaurant recommends the shio soba – and we concur. The elegantly balanced base stock blends two types of salt (Mongolian rock salt and Okinawan sea salt) and it’s the perfect foil for the hamaguri clam and red sea bream soup’s distinctive seafood sweetness. The noodles are then finished with Italian white truffle oil, porcini mushroom sauce, pancetta bacon bits and inca berry sauce. This adds a pesto-like robustness and depth in the overall flavour. It is moreish, and you’ll be compelled to finish the soup till the last drop.

按田餃子
按田餃子
Photo: Anda Gyoza

Anda Gyoza

Restaurants Chinese Yoyogi-Uehara

Bib Gourmand / gyoza set meal from ¥972

In a lot of ways, Anda Gyoza comes across more like a Taiwanese restaurant than a Japanese one. For one thing, its gyoza are rounder than the usual crescent-shaped dumplings found throughout Tokyo – they look more like plump tortelloni. Then there’s the liberal use of herbs, deployed to great effect as flavouring. As such, the food feels wholesome but still tasty.

What’s even more surprising are the gyoza fillings, featuring seasonings and condiments that are more south-east Asian than Japanese. There’s a chicken dumpling flavoured with coriander, dried shrimp and coconut, which reminded us of Thai tom yum. Other delights include pork with carrot and curry powder, and chicken with ginger, fish sauce and dried basil.

We recommend ordering the suigyoza set meal, which will get you eight boiled gyoza (two pieces each of four different fillings), an excellent corned pork rice studded with cubed carrot, cucumber and pickled daikon, and a bowl of seaweed soup. The best part is that you can order this throughout the day.

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Tempura Abe
Tempura Abe
Photo: Keisuke Tanigawa

Tempura Abe

Restaurants Japanese Ginza

Bib Gourmand / dishes starting from ¥1,000

On a Ginza side street, a discrete staircase will take you down to a tiny tempura haven. While dinner starts from ¥3,500, at lunch, just ¥1,000 will get you an o-ebi don – a rice bowl topped with two giant prawns and three kinds of seasonal vegetables, or a kakiage don – a bowl of rice topped with a crown of chopped prawn and vegetable tempura.

For ¥1,500, you can get the jo tendon – a rice bowl topped with two prawns, fish and five kinds of vegetables. All these dishes come with a refreshing bowl of miso soup and a side of salty pickles. Better still, all are cooked to crisp, golden, surprisingly light perfection. 

Tonkatsu Hasegawa
Tonkatsu Hasegawa
Photo: Lim Chee Wah

Tonkatsu Hasegawa

Restaurants Japanese Ryogoku

Bib Gourmand / tonkatsu from ¥1,000

Ryogoku stalwart Tonkatsu Hasegawa uses premium Hiraboku Sangenton pork from Yamagata. As such staff here would advise you to enjoy the meat with pink salt to bring out its natural sweetness.

The lunch and dinner menus are similar, but for lunch, certain sets (which come with rice, miso soup and pickles) are offered at a lower price. For example, pork-loin cutlet meal is ¥1,000 at lunch, instead of ¥1,500 for dinner. But if you’re looking go the whole hog, so to speak, get the super premium pork-loin cutlet meal (¥2,800; pictured). The thick slab of pork is beautifully marbled while the creamy white fat is meltingly good and packs lots of umami flavour.

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Chukakosai Jasmine
Chukakosai Jasmine
Photo: Lim Chee Wah

Chuka Kosai Jasmine

Restaurants Hiroo

Bib Gourmand / weekday set lunch from ¥1,000

One of the best Chinese restaurants in Shibuya, Jasmine specialises in the spicy Chinese cuisine from the Szechuan province. While the dishes are executed with the flair and refinement befitting the restaurant’s simple elegant setting, the flavours are spot on: bold and punchy, and they leave a mild tingling sensation at the back of your palate.

Dinner costs upwards of ¥4,000; the weekday lunch menu, however, is a steal in comparison. The rice sets are priced from ¥1,000, and they each come with a main, rice, soup, side dish and dessert. Plus you get to add on a small serving of the restaurant’s signature mapo tofu for a mere ¥250 – and you should. Our favourite lunch main dish is a toss up between the immensely addictive pork in sticky black vinegar sauce and the refreshing chilled chicken in spicy sauce (both at ¥1,200 each).

Toritsune Shizendo
Toritsune Shizendo
Photo: Kisa Toyoshima

Toritsune Shizendo

Restaurants Suehirocho

Bib Gourmand / oyakodon set lunch from ¥1,100

This chicken specialist in Suehirocho does a stellar job at presenting the best of the bird in a myriad of ways. A dinner easily sets you back upwards of ¥10,000 a head. For that, you'll be getting a whole lot of good chicken.

For those with less cash to splash, Shizendo's lunch options offer an introduction on the magic the chefs can work with chicken in various guises. On the menu is oyakodon, served up in six different varieties, starting from ¥1,100. Be prepared to queue.  If you really want to get a feel just how good Shizendo is with chicken, you can splurge on the specials, available to 20 diners only every day: the tokujo (extra special) oyakodon (¥1,800) and the tokujo motsu-iri oyakodon (oyakodon with giblets, ¥2,100), both made with premium rice, premium eggs and of course, premium chicken.

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Ponchi-ken

Restaurants Ochanomizu

Bib Gourmand / tonkatsu dinner starting from ¥1,200

The first tonkatsu-only restaurant to get a Michelin nod, Ponchi-ken serves up perfectly crunchy pork loin cutlets (rosu katsu) to enthusiasts from all across Japan. 

It's easy to see what draws them: the first bite is crispy, but you’ll soon feel the juices from the lean Okinawan-bred pork hit – the rest is pure bliss. For an alternative, try the thicker fillet (hire) cutlets, or mix things up by adding some of the slightly spicy 'special sauce' and French salt.

Expect to see queues at lunchtime, when the tonkatsu sets start at ¥1,500, or score a cheaper (non-set) meal at dinner for just ¥1,200. The sets are great value, though – they come with unlimited shredded cabbage, house pickles, miso soup and a bowl of rice. And if you're tempted to veer slightly off the traditional cutlet course, opt for Ponchi-ken's renowned katsu curry or tonkatsu sandwiches.

Still hungry?

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