Tsutsui | Time Out Tokyo
Photo by Yasuhisa Shimbo Fresh sushi delights at Gotanda's Tsutsui

The best standing-only sushi in Tokyo

Where to find delicious fish on the cheap

By Time Out Tokyo Editors
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Although the past few decades have seen sushi secure its place in the hallowed halls of global haute cuisine, there's no forgetting its Edo-era fast food roots. Served at street stalls and hole-in-the-wall haunts, nigirizushi was originally meant as a quick bite, often eaten on the run. Despite the modern-day dominance of conveyor belt-style eateries, Tokyo still hosts quite a few old-school, standing-only sushi shops where the fish is fresh, the atmosphere is down-to-earth and the prices remain enticing. Here are our top picks for satisfying those sudden and recurring raw fish cravings – meanwhile, sit-down diners will want to check out our pick of Tokyo's best sushi restaurants.

The top 10 spots for stand sushi

Sakaezushi

Restaurants Tateishi
Step outside Keisei-Tateishi Station and you might notice the queue in front of this eternally popular shop, where the nigiri start from ¥100 and are fresh, satisfyingly thick and fatty. Make sure to try the scallops and oysters, which have to be some of the best in the area. Stock tends to run low long before closing time, so visiting early in the afternoon is recommended.
Magurobito Okachimachi | Time Out Tokyo
Photo by Keisuke Tanigawa

Magurobito Okachimachi

Restaurants Sushi Okachimachi
Boasting a selection of more than 50 kinds of seafood freshly delivered from all over Japan, this Okachimachi shop is particularly famed for its fatty tuna – even the exquisite otoro goes for as low as ¥290. The tuna here has that melt-in-your-mouth quality that separates the best from the rest and provides a nicely smooth aftertaste. Lunch is served until 5pm, with most customers choosing the ¥1,000, 10-piece set that comes with a maki roll and miso soup.
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Taiyo

Restaurants Seafood Monzen-Nakacho
This tiny Tomioka joint is primarily a standing-only bar, but the owner also moulds a mean nigiri sushi. Choose freely from the day's catch, or let the talkative chef do his thing for ¥300 a pop. Late-night visits here call for a cup of sake or a cold beer.

Okame

Restaurants Sushi Tsukiji
Tsukiji obviously has more than its fair share of sushi restaurants, but most of them attract long queues and require customers to sit down. That's not the case at Okame, a tiny joint that's actually little more than a roadside stand but serves tasty product at low, low prices. Nigiri are ¥100-¥400 a pop, but the ¥1,500 set gets you a decent selection of scallops, horse mackerel, omelette, salmon roe, shrimp and more.
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Tachizushi Aoi | Time Out Tokyo
Photo by Yasuhisa Shimbo

Tachizushi Aoi

Restaurants Sushi Yurakucho
Space is very limited at this joint, found under the tracks by Yurakucho Station, but it makes up for its lack of comfort with a nice selection of voluminous nigiri. Go at lunchtime for one of their sets (8-piece ¥900, 10-piece ¥1,000, 13-piece ¥1,300), or join the crowds of hungry salarymen for an evening snack and a cup of nihonshu.

Isamizushi

Restaurants Sushi Oimachi
Another tiny shop, this one on a side street close to Oimachi Station, that serves deliciously fresh sushi at prices that make you wonder how they can ever make a profit. Egg nigiri are ¥40, ika (squid) goes for ¥60, tobiko roe for ¥80, and even standard choices like tuna and scallops are ¥100. No item here costs more than ¥200, and while the rice amounts are paltry, the seafood is standard-sized and maintains excellent quality across the board.
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[CLOSED] Tsutsui

Restaurants Sushi Gotanda

It certainly doesn't look like much, but this spirited little shop under the tracks at Gotanda Station serves up unbelievably tasty fare at reasonable prices. In the evening, go for the nine-piece set (¥900) for a quick bite, or dine in style with the special nigiri set (¥1,600), which comes with a maki roll and provides serious value. There's no sense of rush here (unlike at some other standing-only places), so go ahead and take your time.

Nihonbashi Nigi Nigi Ichi

Restaurants Nihonbashi
You'll find only the freshest stuff here: Nihonbashi's Nigi Nigi brings in product straight from fisheries as well as from Tsukiji every morning, with no freezing allowed. The sushi is served in traditional Tokyo style, often with the soy sauce already added on – perfect for a quick bite. Weekday lunch sets range from the standard ¥800 pack to an upscale ¥1,500 set.
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Tachigui Midori

Restaurants Sushi Ikebukuro
The famed Sushi no Midori restaurant operates branches all over Tokyo, but this is their only shop without seating. Queues are far shorter here than at other Midori locations, and the food is served quickly and efficiently. Nigiri start at ¥50 and uphold the Midori reputation for freshness and satisfying size. Make sure to try the anago ippon-nigiri, a ball of rice with a whole eel draped over it.

Sakura Sushi

Restaurants Ikebukuro
With nigiri starting from as low as ¥70 and even the most expensive choices barely cracking the ¥100 barrier, this Ikebukuro joint is cheapo heaven. We recommend ordering as you go, but if you're really indecisive, just stop by at lunchtime and feast on the voluminous standard set (¥880). True gourmands might want to try the three-piece fatty tuna platter (¥600).
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