Japan’s Cheap but Delicious Food

You would think most meals are very expensive in Japan, but you’d be wrong about that! Thanks to competitiveness, many meals are cheap but very delicious.

Last year, it was proven Japan has more delicious cuisine than other countries as it won more of the famous and highly coveted Michelin stars than even France, where this system of ranking fine quality dining originated. Of course those “starred” restaurants are usually very expensive, where you can spend 10,000 yen ($125) very easily. But do you know it very often costs you only one-coin (500 yen; $6) or even less to have dinner in Japan?  You might think this is just a snack or some low quality food. But lo and behold, there is such a variety of good food to choose from for around this price!

Gyudon is a beef bowl, very popular especially with men. There are many gyudon chain restaurants, and this photo shows a 370 yen ($5) set menu. This chain is “Sukiya.”

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Udon is usually eaten at home but nowadays there are a few udon chain restaurants appearing. This one is “Marugame Seimen.”  It now has stores all over Japan.  The udon goes well with crispy tempura costing around 100 yen per piece (fish or vegetables).  This photo shows a meal for 460 yen ($6).

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Soba (made from buckwheat) is a very popular snack for “salarymen”. It is often had at a food stand at stations. Adding an egg (which may have been cooked over an “onsen” or hot spring in a basket) or tempura makes a very nice dinner. The photo shows a breakfast costing 290 yen ($4). There are many soba stands, but fewer soba chain restaurants. This one is “Yude Taro.”

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Ramen was originally Chinese noodles, but it has been developed to such an extent in Japan it is now exported back to mainland China and has become popular. Ramen is now Japanese food and very popular with all generations as a comfort food. There are many raman chain restaurants and individual ramen shops are ubiquitous. This ramen chain has a 290 yen ($4) ramen dish as shown in the photo. Gyoza, (meat or vegetable steamed or fried dumplings), costs 190 yen ($2) – so this photo’s set menu is 480 yen ($6).

Enjoy alcohol? Drinking alcohol with dinner enhances enjoyment of our meal. Drinking is also inexpensive if you go to an “izakaya”, a Japanese-style drinking establishment offering a wide variety of small dishes, and many of which are part of a chain all over Japan. This izakaya is famous for its standard price. Everything is 270 yen ($3) including beer, wine, Japanese sake, and all dishes including sushi and sashimi, or grilled fish. The menu is high-tech – you touch an electronic menu board to place your order.

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