Tokyo gets a bad rap for being expensive, but many of the top sights are actually free, and feasting on the city’s top ramen joints and sushi stands won’t leave you broke — if you know where the bargains lie.
When it comes to food, Tokyo is a paradise for foodies on a budget. While izakayas and ramen joints are certainly delicious and affordable, there’s so much more to the Tokyo food scene than just these classic staples!
In this curated list of the best cheap eats in Tokyo, we’ll take you beyond the expected and show you where to find the most delicious and affordable food the city has to offer. From sushi stands to street food vendors and everything in between, we’ve got you covered on the best-kept secrets we’ve collected over the years from all our trips to Japan.
This post may contain affiliate links. You won’t be paying a cent more, but in the event of a sale, the small affiliate commission I receive will help keep this blog running/pumping out useful and free content. Thanks a lot!
Before we dive into all the budget-friendly food recs, be sure to check out these other posts to help you plan your trip to Tokyo:
- 14 Best Hotels In Tokyo Near JR Yamanote Line
- 20 Best Things To Do In Tokyo At Night
- Tokyo Travel Tips: 50 Things To Know Before You Go
- Japan On A Budget: 45 Ultimate Tips For An Affordable Vacation
- 17 Best Theme Parks Near Tokyo, Japan
- 18 Popular Foods To Try While You’re Living It Up In Japan
Table of Contents
TOKYO IN A NUTSHELL
Here’s a quick overview of all the useful info you need to plan an awesome trip!
- When To Go: Spring (March to May) for cherry blossoms, Summer (June to August) for festival season, Fall (September to November) for epic fall foliage.
- Where To Stay: Choose a hotel along the JR Yamanote Line for the most convenience. We like:
- Nearest Airport: Narita International Airport (NRT) and Haneda Airport (HND). NRT is 60 kilometers (37 miles) east of Tokyo’s city center. HND is 14 kilometers (9 miles) south of Tokyo’s city center.
- How to Get Around: Public transportation all the way. Don’t even think about renting a car in Tokyo! If you plan on traveling across Japan, a Japan Rail Pass can save you a lot of money on transportation. The pass allows unlimited travel on Japan Railways (JR) trains, buses, and ferries for a set period of time.
- Must-Do’s: Immerse yourself in all the digital art at TeamLab Planets, feel the Disney magic at Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea, eat a crepe in the Harajuku district, try vending machine ramen and conveyor belt sushi, spend your early jet-lagged hours at Tsukiji Fish Market.
- Before You Go: For incredible convenience, get yourself an Airalo e-SIM card so you can download a digital data pack and get connected anywhere in the world as soon as you land.
- Consider getting the Klook Pass Tokyo — you’ll get up to 48% off your tickets to Tokyo’s popular attractions, including Tokyo Disney, teamLab Planets, Legoland, Sanrio Puroland, Shibuya Sky Deck, and more. Choose from 6+ different combinations, and add on activities based on what you like to do!
- ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank You’ in Japanese:
- Hello: こんにちは (Konnichiwa) or おはようございます (Ohayou gozaimasu) in the morning or こんばんは (Konbanwa) in the evening
- Thank You: ありがとうございます (Arigatou gozaimasu)
- Currency: the Japanese yen (¥) – click for current conversion rates
10 Of My Favorite Cheap Eats In Tokyo, Japan
Katsu Midori Sushi, Shibuya-ku
If you’re a sushi lover on a budget, you absolutely have to check out Katsu Midori Sushi in Shibuya-ku. This conveyor-belt sushi restaurant is a spin-off from Tokyo sushi shop Sushi-no-Midori, and it’s quickly become one of the city’s most popular spots for affordable sushi.
The quality of the sushi at Katsu Midori is top-notch, with fresh ingredients and expertly crafted rolls that are sure to satisfy your cravings. And with prices starting at just ¥100 per plate, it’s an absolute bargain for the quality of the food.
One of the best things about Katsu Midori is the conveyor belt itself. It’s such a fun experience if you’ve never had conveyor-belt sushi before!
You can simply grab plates of sushi that look appealing as they pass by, or you can order specific items from the menu using a tablet at your table. And with the restaurant always crowded, you can be sure that the plates are fresh and constantly being replenished!
The restaurant is located inside the Seibu Department Store, adding to the convenience factor. And with plates ranging from ¥100 to ¥500, you can eat like a king/queen for cheap!
Address: Seibu Department Store, 21-1 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku
Onigiri Yadoroku, Taitō-ku
Onigiri, rice shaped into triangles and wrapped in sheets of nori (seaweed), is Japan’s ultimate snack. While this one might not be enough to entirely fill you up as a whole meal would, they’re such a good deal!
If this is your first time hearing about onigiri, try them made-to-order at Tokyo’s oldest onigiri shop –opened in 1954.
Whether you prefer classic flavors like salmon or tuna, or more adventurous options like pickled plum or shrimp tempura, Onigiri Yadoroku can whip them up to your liking.
The onigiri’s here are so good! The rice is perfectly cooked and seasoned, and the nori is fresh and crispy. And with prices starting at just ¥310 per onigiri, it’s an affordable snack that won’t break the bank.
The shop itself is small and cozy, with a few seats available for those who want to eat their onigiri on site. But if you’re on the go, you can also take your onigiri to enjoy on the streets of Asakusa.
Address: 3-9-10 Asakusa, Taito-ku
Kagawa Ippuku, Chiyoda-ku
Originating from Kagawa, the prefecture synonymous with udon in Japan, Ippuku has a great reputation. Plus it’s such a bargain bite!
The udon at Kagawa Ippuku is made fresh daily using high-quality flour, and the noodles have a deliciously chewy texture that’s sure to satisfy your cravings. The restaurant offers a variety of udon dishes, including hot udon in broth, cold udon with dipping sauce, and even udon served with tempura or other toppings.
Despite the high quality of the udon, the restaurant is incredibly affordable, with prices starting at just ¥430 per bowl.
If you’re worried about the language barrier at such a local spot, don’t be. You’ll be handed an English menu to help with the options, but you’ll pay at the vending machine.
Address: Tokyo Royal Plaza,1-18-11 Uchikanda, Chiyoda-ku
Isetan Department Store, Shinjuku-ku
If you’re a foodie on a budget, you absolutely have to check out the food hall at Isetan Department Store in Shinjuku. This massive food hall is a culinary wonderland, with outlets from some of the country’s top restaurants offering a wide variety of delicious and affordable eats.
Customize your meal of sushi, dumplings, tonkatsu sandwiches, and even dessert — then take it upstairs to eat on the roof garden!
The food at Isetan is incredibly affordable. You can get a delicious and satisfying meal for under 1,000 yen, which is a steal considering the quality of the food and the variety of options available.
Address: 3-14-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku; dishes from ¥500.
Sagatani, a noodle joint in the Shibuya district, possibly wins the prize for Tokyo’s best cheap meal. This traditional Japanese restaurant has been serving up soba for over 80 years, and it’s easy to see why it’s still so popular today.
The soba at Sagatani is made fresh daily from high-quality buckwheat flour, giving it a delicious nutty flavor and a satisfying chewy texture. You can choose from a variety of soba dishes (priced from ¥280), including hot soba in broth, cold soba with dipping sauce, and even soba served with tempura or grilled fish.
Expect fresh, stone-ground soba noodles made daily and served with a side of goma (sesame) dipping sauce. You can wash it all down with a cheap beer too. The restaurant is located in a charming old building with traditional Japanese decor, creating a cozy and nostalgic ambiance that’s perfect for enjoying a bowl of soba!
Address: 2-25-7 Dōgenzaka, Shibuya-ku
Rokurinsha (六厘舎), Chiyoda
Oh my goodness, let me tell you about Rokurinsha’s tsukemen in Tokyo. It’s an absolute game-changer for anyone who loves dipping noodles and rich, delectable broths.
The dipping broth here is SUPER rich and flavorful, made with chicken and pork bones that have been simmered for hours to develop a deep umami flavor. And the noodles, oh the noodles, they are as thick as they are chewy (in the best way possible), perfect for dipping and slurping up all that deliciousness.
Along with your perfect noodles, you get a generous serving of tender chashu (braised pork belly), a perfectly cooked soft-boiled egg, and a mound of fresh green onions. And if that’s not enough, you can even add extra toppings like bamboo shoots and seaweed — which I highly recommend you do. So worth the splurge!
You can get a hearty bowl of tsukemen for under ¥1,000, which is a steal considering the quality of the food and the portion size. It’s no wonder that Rokurinsha is always packed with locals and tourists alike!
Address: 丸の内1-9-1 B1F Chiyoda, 東京都 〒100-0005
If you’re a fan of tonkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlet), then you have to check out Katsukura in Tokyo. This chain restaurant specializes in tonkatsu and has several locations throughout the city, making it easy to find a location near you.
Katsukura originated from Kyoto, so it’s a great opportunity to try a regional specialty in Tokyo without having to travel all the way to Kyoto.
At most locations, be prepared to line up, especially during peak hours! Just note that the lines do move rather swiftly so there’s no need to worry about waiting for hours. And trust me, the wait is worth it!
One of the best dishes at Katsukura is the Premium Loin Cutlet, which ranges from ¥1180-1800 yen. The meat is juicy and tender, with just the right amount of fatty layers. The sesame sauce is the perfect accompaniment to the pork, adding a nutty and fragrant flavor to the dish.
When you dip the cutlet into the sesame sauce and take a bite, the fats just melt so luxuriously in your mouth. It’s an incredibly satisfying experience that’s sure to leave you wanting more!
The restaurant at the Times Square Building is located on the 14th floor, so it’s best to take the elevator up rather than the escalators.
Address: Shibuya City, Sendagaya, 5 Chome−24−2, Times Square Building, 14F 高島屋
Ichiran, multiple locations
If you’ve traveled anywhere in the world, you probably already know of Ichiran. But they’re often way overpriced compared to what you pay when you’re actually in Japan!
This “vending machine” ramen chain restaurant allows you to customize your bowl of noodles to your liking, from the firmness of the noodles to the strength of the broth.
At Ichiran, you start by ordering your ramen from a vending machine. Then, you’re taken to a private booth where it’s literally you and your bowl of noodles — no other distractions. Unless you showed up with someone else — then they’ll be your only distraction!
Once you’ve made your selections, your bowl of ramen is prepared and delivered to your booth. The broth is rich and flavorful, with a depth of umami flavor that’s hard to resist. The thin ramen noodles are also perfectly cooked, with just the right amount of chewiness!
And with locations throughout Tokyo, it’s easy to find a location near you.
Torikizoku, multiple locations
If you’re a fan of grilled meat skewers, then you have to check out Torikizoku in Tokyo. This chain restaurant specializes in yakitori (grilled skewers) and offers a wide variety of options at affordable prices.
Each skewer is priced at just ¥298, making it easy to try a variety of different flavors without breaking the bank. And with options like chicken thigh, pork belly, and even chicken liver, you can stay as safe or get as adventurous as you want! Along with the meats, they have free refills on cabbage (super yummy) and an amazing potato salad too.
One of the must-try items I recommend at Torikizoku is the grilled mochi. This chewy rice cake is grilled to perfection and served with a savory soy sauce glaze. It’s a delicious and unique twist on the classic yakitori skewer.
And if you’re looking for a drink to pair with your meal, be sure to try the assortment of high balls. This classic Japanese cocktail is made with whiskey and soda water, and it’s the perfect complement to the salty and savory flavors of the yakitori.
Kyushu Jangara, Akihabara
In my opinion, Kyushu Jangara Akihabara is a must-visit ramen restaurant in Tokyo, known for its delicious and authentic Kyushu-style ramen. This restaurant is part of the Jangara Ramen chain, which has several locations throughout Tokyo, but the Akihabara location is particularly popular among locals and tourists.
The restaurant’s signature tonkotsu (pork bone) broth is simmered for over 20 hours, resulting in a creamy and savory flavor that’s hard to resist. The noodles are also made in-house, giving them a fresh and chewy texture that perfectly complements the broth!
You gotta get the Jangara Ramen, which is topped with a variety of ingredients like chashu (sliced pork), menma (bamboo shoots), and green onions. You can also customize your ramen with additional toppings like ajitama (seasoned egg) or extra chashu. Do both if you have the belly space for them!
Other Cheap Eats Around Tokyo, Japan
Yakiniku Like – A chain restaurant that specializes in Korean-style grilled meat, where you can cook your own meat at your table.
CoCo Ichibanya – A chain restaurant that serves Japanese-style curry with a variety of toppings, from vegetables to fried chicken.
Matsuya – A chain restaurant that serves Japanese-style fast food, including rice bowls with toppings like beef, chicken, and pork.
Sukiya – A chain restaurant that serves Japanese-style fast food, including rice bowls with toppings like beef, chicken, and pork.
Gyoza no Ohsho – A chain restaurant that specializes in gyoza (dumplings) and Chinese-style dishes like fried rice and stir-fry noodles.
Hanamaru Udon – A chain restaurant that serves delicious udon noodles and tempura at affordable prices.
Shin Udon – A small and cozy udon restaurant in Shinjuku that serves handmade udon noodles with delicious toppings like tempura and grilled chicken.
Tsukiji Outer Market – A bustling market in Tokyo where you can find really affordable and REALLY fresh fish as well as street food vendors serving sushi, tempura, and other Japanese delicacies.
Japan Travel Insurance
This is a no-brainer. When traveling internationally, be sure to get yourself some travel insurance.
I’ve heard of too many unfortunate experiences where friends and family have had baggage lost/stolen, hotels canceled, or have had unexpected medical emergencies while traveling where they’ve had to cut their trips short.
True story alert — in 2022, my partner even had his shoulder completely dislocated while surfing in Mexico, resulting in a $950 USD emergency room bill that we had to pay out of pocket for! Not fun… and most definitely not cheap.
Without travel insurance, you would have to pay out of pocket for these mishaps. This is why I get travel insurance for all my international trips now!
One of the best budget-friendly travel insurances for those traveling outside their home country is SafetyWing.
SafetyWing Insurance provides coverage for unexpected illness or injury, including eligible expenses for hospital, doctor or prescription drugs. This means that if you get ill or injured, they will cover the medical expenses.
In addition, it provides emergency travel-related benefits such as emergency medical evacuation (much needed if you like to go hiking / trekking in the wild), travel delay, and lost checked luggage.
Looking for more Japan travel tips? You may also like: