Tokyo Food Hunt: Cheap Eats in Japanese Standards

Japanese food isn't my favorite. I enjoy eating katsudon but I’m not a fan ramen. I love wasabi but not all types of sushi. It’s somewhat a selective kind of thing in terms of taste. But when it comes to aesthetic appeal, hands down, Japanese food is the best.

For Filipinos, Japanese food isn't as strange as other cuisines that a Japanese fast food stall in Divisoria isn't surprising at all. I had the chance to sample an authentic Japanese dining experience a week before our trip and Hatsu Hana Tei Japanese Restaurant in Makati is legit as they claim it to be. But then, I had to try the real thing to compare it to ones we have in Manila.

Our Japan autumn trip was spearheaded by a dear friend who scored a great deal on Manila to Tokyo roundtrip flight. After securing a Japan Tourist Visa and searching online for a very comprehensive Japan Travel Guide, the group of four headed to the Land of the Rising Sun—I was the only first-timer (check here for discounted tours, transportation and activities in Tokyo).

Japan Hi Tech Menu
Ultra-modern menu
Our trip coincided with a super typhoon which altered most of our plans. We had one full day of exploring Tokyo and did side trips to see Mt. Fuji in Hakone and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Nikko. And in between those, we indulged in Japanese food fest, including beer drinking sesh, of course. Our home in Tokyo, Wired Hotel Asakusa, provided a good home base for this quest as the vibe of old school Tokyo is totally felt here.

Tokyo Japan Street Food
Fancy desserts at Ameyayokocho Market in Ueno
I have been around Asia and enjoyed the local food scene. I specifically loved our local food finds in Maldives, India, Nepal, and Taiwan. Having been to South Korea earlier this year, I realized that on East Asia, a hundred dollars can be a normal budget for a meal for four. Yes, Japanese food isn't cheap in Philippine standards but during the course of our five-day jaunt, we indulged in Japanese food, with our meager budget.


McDonalds Tokyo Japan
Lifesaver #1
I know it sounds funny but it was our food refuge. Me and my buddies would go to McDonald’s for quick eats or those times when our money could afford only fast food stuff. 

McDonalds Tokyo Japan
800-Yen McDonald's Breakfast (USD 7.06)
This is really good!

Convenience Stores

Tokyo Japan Cheap Food
Lifesaver #2
Japanese convenience stores would suffice in terms of meal survival. Seven Eleven, Family Mart and Lawson are some of the famous ones and you could get decent meal without spending too much.

Tokyo Japan Cheap Food
Onigiri - JPY 240 (USD2.12)
Tokyo Japan Cheap Food
Steamed bun -and instant cup noodles - JPY 400 (USD 3.53)
Tokyo Japan Cheap Food
Fried stuff and rice - JPY 370 (USD 3.27)
Tokyo Japan Cheap Food
Fried pork with rice - JPY 491 (USD 4.34)


Tokyo Japan Cheap Bento Box
Discounted bento boxes in supermarkets
Bento boxes are the most common set meals in Japan. We were lost inside a supermarket once and found an area dedicated to on-the-go meals. Bento boxes are expected to go on promotion during afternoons and expect to pay half the original price during this time of the day.

Tokyo Japan Cheap Bento Box
Discounted Bento Box - JPY 400 (USD 3.53)


Tokyo Japan Vendo Restaurant
Vendo-operated restaurant in Shibuya
After experiencing the famous Shibuya Crossing, we tried the vendo-operated restaurant and one of the best ramen houses (according to my buddies) in the area. I'm not a fan of ramen so I didn't try it, oh, I did. It was too salty for me. Haha.

Tokyo Japan Best Ramen
Ichiryu Restaurant
Tokyo Japan Best Ramen
I forgot to take note of these but here's what I remember;
Crispy fried chicken - JPY 450 (USD 3.97)
Ramen (I didn't know what kind) - JPY 930 (USD 8.21)


Tokyo Japan Cheap Beer
Torahachi Restaurant
After a day of field trip outside Tokyo, we found ourselves looking for a dinner place under the elevated railways in the area of Shinbashi. We ended up on a street full of restaurants and ended the day with bottles of beer alongside with local salarymen. Almost all the restaurants we tried do allow smoking inside, just like in the movies.

Tokyo Japan Cheap Beer
Asahi Beer big bottle - JPY 550 (USD 4.86)
Tokyo Japan Best Yakisoba
Japanese fried noodles - JPY 540 (USD 4.77)
The best Japanese fried noodles I've tried!
Tokyo Japan Cheap Restaurant
Crispy fried chicken gizzard - JPY 324 (USD 2.86)
Tokyo Japan Cheap Restaurant
Skewered fares
Pork belly - JPY 216 (USD 1.91)
Chicken thigh - JPY 194 (USD 1.71)


Tokyo Japan Piss Alley
Shinjuku's Piss Alley
We checked out the famous Piss Alley in Shinjuku where locals would go to have cheap beers and barbecued fares. My buddies wouldn’t want to be squeezed inside the cramped bars so we searched the area for our dinner place. We enjoyed our beer night meal too much that we ended up taking a cab because Tokyo Metro was already closed (our cab fare was almost equal to our meal that night, too bad).

Tokyo Japan Cheap Food
Horumon Jonetsu - Shinjuku, Tokyo
Tokyo Japan Cheap Food
Lean meat all-stars - JPY 3,290 (USD 29.05)
Beef rib slices, cattle's loin, boneless short ribs, beef short ribs, inside skirt, soft inside skirt, and assorted vegetables
Tokyo Japan Cheap Food
Rice topped with raw egg - JPY 320 (USD 2.83)
Tokyo Japan Cheap Food
Ice cream - JPY 290 each (USD 2.56)


Tokyo Japan Best Katsudon
Katsuya Restaurant
Our home base was the perfect place to have food trip sessions. Me and my buddy found our favorite katsudon on a local restaurant that we always went there to grab a quick bite even if we weren’t hungry at all.

Tokyo Japan Best Katsudon
Shrimp, pork fillet, and minced cutlet katsudon - JPY 745 (USD 6.58)
My best Japanese meal! :)


Where To Eat In Hakone Japan
Hotoriya Restaurant - Hakone, Japan
We just had a quick tour around Hakone to catch a glimpse on the tallest mountain in Japan. We didn’t get the chance to see Mt. Fuji but we were overwhelmed on the great lunch meal we had with a view of Lake Ashi.

Where To Eat In Hakone Japan
Hotoriya's special curry with fillet cutlet - JPY 1,600 (USD 14.13)
Where To Eat In Hakone Japan
Honjin hamburg steak - JPY 1,450 (USD 12.80)
Where To Eat In Hakone Japan
Hotoriya's special curry and rice with chicken - JPY 1,450 (USD 12.80)
We may not have fully explored our food options in Tokyo but enjoyed all of our meals nonetheless. Suffice to say, no matter how bad or good the food is, it’s the shared dining experience you have with a great company that’s more important. With that, I have to say that I love Japanese food and can’t wait for more Japan food adventures in the future.

Check here for discounted accommodations in Tokyo.


  1. Happy New Year. Thank you for 2017. Your posts have been a wonderful read. More power to 2018.


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