How to Stay in Tokyo for Free: Part 6 – Why Tokyo is the Culinary Capital of the World

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How to Stay in Tokyo for Free: Part 6 – Why Tokyo is the Culinary Capital of the World

Million Mile SecretsHow to Stay in Tokyo for Free: Part 6 – Why Tokyo is the Culinary Capital of the WorldMillion Mile Secrets Team

We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Emily:   Have you always wanted to visit Japan?  You can get there for a fraction of the cost with a few credit card sign-up bonuses!

My boyfriend and I recently flew from Austin to Japan for ~$200 round trip in Business Class.  And for 3 weeks of lodging (including some fancy hotels), I spent ~$450!

Japan is a beautiful country with LOTS to see and do, from high-rise skyscrapers to old temples to hot springs.  I loved Tokyo for its energetic neighborhoods, shopping, and delicious restaurants.

How To Stay In Tokyo For Free Part 6 Why Tokyo Is The Culinary Capital Of The World
Tokyo Is One of the Culinary Capitals of the World. And I’ll Share Some of My Favorite Spots to Eat!

Wherever you go, you’re sure to have an amazing time!  In this series, I’ll go into detail about where I stayed in Tokyo, what to do, and some of my favorite restaurants, and show you how you can do it, too!

How to Stay in Tokyo for Free Trip Report Index:

Where to Eat in Tokyo

Tokyo is filled with amazing restaurants, and is home to the most Michelin starred restaurants in the world.

If you’re interested in trying a few of these spots, here’s a list of 4 affordable Michelin restaurants in Tokyo.

That said, you don’t have to visit a Michelin star restaurant to find delicious food.  Restaurants that serve tasty food & drinks can be found all over Japan!

Here are some of my favorites.

1.   Albatross Bar & Gallery

When you’re in Tokyo, be sure to check out Albatross Bar & Gallery.  They serve delicious cocktails in a cozy, bohemian-style setting.

How To Stay In Tokyo For Free Part 6 Why Tokyo Is The Culinary Capital Of The World
The Albatross Bar & Gallery Is Known for Its Funky Decor

The first floor was decorated with huge chandeliers.  But we went upstairs to an eclectically decorated outdoor patio.

How To Stay In Tokyo For Free Part 6 Why Tokyo Is The Culinary Capital Of The World
You Have to Walk up Some Tiny Steps to Get Upstairs

The prices were reasonable and the ambiance was very cool.  I’d definitely come back here on a return trip to Tokyo!

How To Stay In Tokyo For Free Part 6 Why Tokyo Is The Culinary Capital Of The World
Their Cocktails Cost ~$7, a Decent Deal in Tokyo

2.   Tori-en

Tori-en is a popular Yakitori restaurant in the heart of Tokyo.  Yakitori is a Japanese-style grilled meat, similar to kebabs.

How To Stay In Tokyo For Free Part 6 Why Tokyo Is The Culinary Capital Of The World
Check out Tori-en for Delicious Japanese-Style Grilled Meat

The menu was in Japanese, so our friends ordered some of their favorite foods.

How To Stay In Tokyo For Free Part 6 Why Tokyo Is The Culinary Capital Of The World
We Were Lucky to Have Friends Who Speak the Language to Order for Us

We had an assortment of meats, and had fun trying so many new foods.

How To Stay In Tokyo For Free Part 6 Why Tokyo Is The Culinary Capital Of The World
The Skewered Meat Reminded Me of the Delicious Kebabs You Can Get in India

We ordered lots of different dishes, and the total came to ~$80.  Which is a good deal for dinner & drinks for a group of 4!

3.   Ebisu Dagashi Bar

At the Ebisu Dagashi Bar, you can try all the unique and delicious dishes (both sweet and savory) you want.  It’s a lot of fun trying different Japanese snacks, with all kinds of flavors and textures!  There are:

  • Rice crackers
  • Lightly sweetened puffed barley
  • Chocolate covered puffed barley
  • Different flavored corn puff snacks (like American cheese balls/puffs) with flavors like sauce (tonkatsu sauce), sugar, cheese, corn soup, and even spicy fish eggs and shrimp mayo, pickled squid, pickled plums, squid jerky
  • Ramen noodle snacks (bags of crushed up noodles with flavors on it)
  • Thin wafers that taste like the cake ice cream cones (not the sugar cones)
  • Katsu strips (jerky with panko coating and fried)
  • Different types of candy (soft, hard, chewy, gum, etc.)
How To Stay In Tokyo For Free Part 6 Why Tokyo Is The Culinary Capital Of The World
My Favorite Snack Was “Cheetos” on a Stick

As you can see, we all had a lot of fun trying everything and going back for seconds for our favorites!

How To Stay In Tokyo For Free Part 6 Why Tokyo Is The Culinary Capital Of The World
There Were Literally Hundreds of Treats to Choose From

The bill came to ~$78, or about ~$16 per person, including drinks.

4.   Character Cafes

I made it a point to go to a character cafe during our Tokyo trip.  Because I knew it would be a unique experience!

There’s an Alice in Wonderland-themed restaurant, a Shiro-Hige’s Cream Puff Factory for Studio Ghibli fans, and even a Pom Pom Purin Cafe.

How To Stay In Tokyo For Free Part 6 Why Tokyo Is The Culinary Capital Of The World
This Particular Cafe Had a Bunny Rabbit Theme

In addition to the character cafes, Tokyo also has animal cafes.  Where you can enjoy a coffee and interact with cute animals like cats, bunnies, and owls.

How To Stay In Tokyo For Free Part 6 Why Tokyo Is The Culinary Capital Of The World
I Can Totally Understand Why Kids Would Enjoy a Bunny-Themed Cafe

At some character cafes, you can pay to do a mini photo shoot with an animal where you dress it in costumes and take pictures.

How To Stay In Tokyo For Free Part 6 Why Tokyo Is The Culinary Capital Of The World
Bunny Conductor, Anyone?

On the day we went, there was a beach-themed photo shoot, complete with elaborate backdrops!

How To Stay In Tokyo For Free Part 6 Why Tokyo Is The Culinary Capital Of The World
At This Particular Animal Themed Cafe, You Can Dress a Bunny for a Photo Shoot!

5.   Curry House CoCo

Japanese curry is one of my favorite foods, and one of the Japanese people’s favorite comfort foods.  It is so delicious, I learned how to make it from scratch at home!

Curry House CoCo is essentially a fast food curry restaurant, with locations all over Japan.

How To Stay In Tokyo For Free Part 6 Why Tokyo Is The Culinary Capital Of The World
Curry House CoCo Is a Great If You’re in a Hurry and Want Decent Quality Curry

For tourists, they offer an English menu.  And even have dishes for those with food allergies.

How To Stay In Tokyo For Free Part 6 Why Tokyo Is The Culinary Capital Of The World
A Meal at Curry House CoCo Costs ~$9

I liked the food a lot, but prefer my made-from-scratch version.  So you’re feeling adventurous, here is the recipe!

How To Stay In Tokyo For Free Part 6 Why Tokyo Is The Culinary Capital Of The World
The Curry Was Good, but I Like My Homemade Version Better!

6.   Freshness Burger

If you’re in the mood for American style burgers and fries, try out Freshness Burger.  It’s cheap and fast, with the usual offerings from a burger joint.

How To Stay In Tokyo For Free Part 6 Why Tokyo Is The Culinary Capital Of The World
Sometimes You Just Need a Hamburger

Plus a couple of unusual items, like a Spam Burger.

How To Stay In Tokyo For Free Part 6 Why Tokyo Is The Culinary Capital Of The World
The Burgers Here Go for ~$7 or Less

I liked my burger.  But it wasn’t the best burger I ever had.

How To Stay In Tokyo For Free Part 6 Why Tokyo Is The Culinary Capital Of The World
I Would’ve Enjoyed a Few More Toppings, Like Onions, Mushrooms, and Tomatoes

Traveling to Asia with a Food Allergy or Other Dietary Restriction

Before I went to Japan, I was extremely nervous about eating there because I have a life-threatening food allergy to all fish.  Fish is common in Japan, and I’ve had a near-death allergic reaction while traveling before.  Thankfully, I survived that trip, but I literally thought it was my time to go.  Ever since then, I’ve been much more prepared and cautious during my travels.

The best thing you can do is have emergency medication, including Epi-Pens, Benadryl and Prednisone (an anti-inflammatory).  Also, I always carry Select Wisely’s chef cards with me.  You can customize them by language spoken and allergy.  They are the size of a business card and easily fit into my wallet.  

These have been invaluable to help prevent serious allergic reactions from happening in the first place because written instructions seem more serious than an informal conversation where words can get lost in translation.  

How To Stay In Tokyo For Free Part 6 Why Tokyo Is The Culinary Capital Of The World
Select Wisely’s Chef Cards Warn Waitstaff about Serious Food Allergies

Despite the love of fish in Japan, I felt extremely safe!  It’s part of the Japanese culture to take care of one another, and I could comfortably eat what I ordered without fear.  But because of my Chef Cards and my emergency medication, I felt much, much safer.

Bottom Line

Tokyo is considered one of the culinary capitals of the world.  And we had lots of fun eating & drinking at different spots around the city.

Some of my top picks include the Albatross Bar & Gallery, Curry House CoCo, and Tokyo’s many themed restaurants.

If you have any restaurant recommendations in Tokyo, share them in the comments!

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