An economical and delicious trip to JapanCheap AND yummy?2012.09.

When a foreigner enters a restaurant in Japan for the first time, they are generally surprised when they find out how expensive it is. That feeling is understandable, especially when you consider the amount of food you actually receive at a fancy, traditional Japanese restaurant. However, if you know where to look, you can enjoy delicious food in Japan on the cheap.

Tip 1: Eat LUNCH at a nice restaurant!

There are many restaurants in Japan worthy of visiting, including some with three Michelin Stars. But, what about the price? Well, if that is a concern, why not eat LUNCH at a nice restaurant!
 
In Japan, a number of quality restaurants are open from around 11am to 2pm for lunch. Lunch menus are nice because the meals are much cheaper than dinner, but the ingredients and the flavors are the same. Therefore, lunch is a great way to experience the “taste” of luxurious restaurants.
In addition, there are many “izakaya” (Japanese-style pubs) open for lunch. Because there is so much competition for lunch, the prices are low. There are many set lunch menus in the 500 to 1,000 yen price range. Family restaurants and cafés that are open for 24 hours also offer special lunch menus to attract customers.
 
The average lunch is only 520 yen!
According to a research by the Shinsei Bank, office workers in Japan spend an average of 520 yen for lunch. You can have udon or soba for a few hundred yen, or you can enjoy a set meal for around 500 yen at a “teishokuya” (Japanese-style diner). Office workers are thus able to enjoy a “one-coin” lunch since there is a 500 yen coin in Japan.
 

Tip 2: Enjoy an inexpensive dinner

You might worry that dinner must be very expensive. But it doesn’t have to be! For those who want to enjoy alcohol with friends or family, an “izakaya” is the best place to have a drink while enjoying appetizer style dishes a la carte. Some specialize in fish dishes, while others have a wide variety of vegetables.
If you’re looking for richer flavors, try “tonkatsu” (deep-fried pork cutlet). A meal with a thick, juicy pork cutlet, miso soup, rice, and “tsukemono” (Japanese pickled vegetables) will only run you around 1,000 to 2,000 yen. Pasta is another popular meal in Japan. Japanese-style pasta is certainly a good try. Family restaurants allow you to choose for a wide range of meals from authentic Italian dishes, Japanese food, and even Chinese! Choosing is half the fun!
 

 
“Where should we eat?”
You want to have a nice meal at a reasonable price, but you’re not sure where to go or what kind of food you want to eat. In that case, try a train station building, a nearby underground shopping mall, or food court at a department store where there are all kinds of restaurants in one place. The top floors of most train station buildings and nearby underground shopping malls generally have a special section just for restaurants. You can find anything from formal restaurants to casual cafés. At the restaurant floors of large department stores, you can also find whatever you’re looking for just as at train station buildings.
 

Tip 3: The secret to eating great food at reasonable prices

You might think that, since you came to Japan, you have to try expensive Japanese cuisine like tempura. But, there is no need to make a special trip to a tempura restaurant. You can order “tempura soba” at a soba restaurant and enjoy steaming-hot tempura for about 1,000 to 2000 yen. Tempura is also a common dish at izakaya. By going to an izakaya or teishokuya, you can try different delicious Japanese foods such as sashimi without having to go to a fancy Japanese-style restaurant. If you go to a restaurant that provides an all-you-can-eat style buffet, you can have sushi or “shabu-shabu” at a reasonable price.

 

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