Food, especially the local cuisine, is a huge part of the travel experience. And in a country like Japan where the food is so well-loved here at home, you’ll want it to be as authentic as it can get. We’ve written a lot about Japan food: from the best Japanese restaurants, to the their strangely themed cafes. And while Japanese Japanese street food is also great, here are a few other options when you’re on a budget.
Convenience Store Bento Boxes
For the penny-pinching traveler, convenience store take-out is usually a sad attempts at a decent meal. But in Japan, convenience stores have anything and everything—including really, really good food. The generic Donburi (rice bowls) come in different styles to choose from: there’s gyudon (marinated beef strips), katsudon (deep-fried pork and scrambled eggs), and oyakodon (chicken and scrambled eggs). Not just that; You can find all sorts of snacks and quick bites here as well!
Average price: 400 to 600 yen.
Try: Natural Lawson Donburi, which is a healthier variety.
If you’re looking for a cheap but filling meal in Japan, look no further than any of the major Gyudon stores. At its most basic, you get a rice bowl topped with minced beef and onions drizzled in soy sauce with a bowl of miso soup. But for a couple more yen, you can add a soft-boiled egg, extra onions, and natto. Even better than the price? Most Gyudon stores are open 24/7!
Average Cost: 250 to 350 yen
Check Out: Yashinoya, Matsuya, Sukiya
A favorite among Singaporeans, the ramen dish has lots of variations across Japan. Tokyo style ramen is usually served with kamaboko, half an egg, and topped with leeks and bamboo shoots. Hakata style ramen, from the Kyushu island, is topped with chashu, scallions, sesame seeds, and pickled ginger. And then there’s Tantan-men Ramen, which is a take-off from the Chinese dandan noodles. This particular style is a specialty from the Nakiryu restaurant. Nakiryu is not only affordable, but has also garnered the prestigious Michelin star!
Average Price: 600 to 800 yen
Check Out: Nakiryu Restaurant, Kourakuen, and Hidakaya
Who would’ve thought that kaiten (conveyor belt) sushi is actually the budget option? You’ll find tons household names in Tokyo. Plates often start at just 100 yen, and also have tempura, fried chicken, soups, teriyaki. For even better deals, go to these places during lunch time; prices tend to be a lot cheaper.
Average Price: 800 yen for a filling meal
Check Out: Genki Sushi, Katsu Midori, and the Tsukiji Fish Market
Of course, the food travel experience doesn’t have to stop with just eat. Take it a step further by learning how to make your own sushi, attending a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, or experiencing Washoku cuisine in a traditional kimono.