If indulging in Japan’s exquisite cuisine is not high on your Japan to-do list, something is seriously wrong.
Japan ranks high among the world’s best food destinations. In 2013 the traditional cuisine was added to the UN’s cultural heritage list as an Intangible Cultural Heritage. The only other country to receive this honour is France.
Japan is best known for delicately prepared fish, comforting and hearty ramen soup and juicy gyoza dumplings.
However, Japan has a well deserved reputation as an expensive holiday destination and sadly, food is no exception to this. A 5-course sushi dinner, expertly prepared according to your personal preferences, can set you back $200-$300 AUD.
But do not despair! You do not need to be travelling luxe to enjoy Japan’s delectable food offerings. I’m going to share a few tips so you too can delight in one of the world’s best cuisines.
It’s not glamorous, and it certainly isn’t personalised, but there’s no doubt it is still better than any other sushi you’ve tried.
Plates of nigiri sushi piled high with glistening salmon, fresh otoro tuna, crunchy radish and fish eggs that pop delightfully in your mouth, start at just 100 Yen each.
Sushi train restaurants will often have many options beyond sushi including clam soup, sizzling steak wrapped mushrooms and fried lotus roots.
Aside from being insanely cheap, ordering via touchscreen and watching your food zoom towards you on a little train is always fun.
Standing Sushi Bars
Dotted throughout the city, these unassuming bars feature a simple bench with standing room only.
Place your order and watch the chef mould your sushi by hand, while shoulder to shoulder with salarymen on their lunch break.
Prices can be similar to sushi train restaurants.
Most people know ramen as the crunchy, dried noodle packets that students love so much. That is not ramen.
Ramen is a huge, steaming bowl of goodness.
One of Japan’s most prevalent soups, ramen has four different bases; tonkotsu (pork), shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce) and miso. Filled to the brim with ramen noodles (from which the soup gets its name), black fungi, pickles, cabbage, nori, bamboo, your choice of protein and a tender boiled egg, it is the ultimate comfort food.
Good ramen goes for between 800-1400 Yen but can definitely be found cheaper.
Depachika is the nickname given to the food wonderland that makes up the basement level of department stores.
Dedicated to food, you can buy anything including fresh seafood, bakery treats, vibrant salads, premade hot meals and fried snacks.
Their variety, price and convenience make them a travellers best friend.
The best seafood market in the world, Tsukiji also houses tiny sushi and sashimi restaurants.
Competitive prices and the freshest fish in Tokyo, what more do you need?
This chain restaurant dedicated to yakitori is found all over Japan, and no wonder why considering everything is only 280 Yen, drinks included!
Yakitori are grilled meat and vegetable skewers, perfect for a quick snack or shared meal.
The shining star of Osaka cuisine, this Japanese ‘pancake’ can easily be found in Tokyo.
A crunchy, cabbage filled batter is cooked on a hot plate and commonly topped with squid and strips of pork belly before being smothered in tangy mayonnaise, salty okonomiyaki sauce and bonito flakes.
Seriously filling and tasty, okonomiyaki is made even better at restaurants that feature a cook-it-yourself hot plate.
Leave with a bulging belly for less than 1000 Yen.
Comment below to share some of your favourite cheap eats in Tokyo!