How to Stay in Tokyo for Free: Part 6 – Why Tokyo is the Culinary Capital of the World
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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.
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:
- Part 1 – Introduction and Planning
- Part 2 – Our $200 Business Class Flights to Japan
- Part 3 – Grand Hyatt Tokyo Hotel Review
- Part 4 – What to Do in Tokyo
- Part 5 – Where to Shop in Tokyo
- Part 6 – Why Tokyo is the Culinary Capital of the World
- Part 7 – Day Trip From Tokyo – Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort & Spa Review
- Part 8 – Day Trip From Tokyo – What to Do in Hakone
- Part 9 – Day Trip From Tokyo – Where to Eat in Hakone
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.
The first floor was decorated with huge chandeliers. But we went upstairs to an eclectically decorated outdoor patio.
The prices were reasonable and the ambiance was very cool. I’d definitely come back here on a return trip to Tokyo!
2. Tori-enTori-en is a popular Yakitori restaurant in the heart of Tokyo. Yakitori is a Japanese-style grilled meat, similar to kebabs.
The menu was in Japanese, so our friends ordered some of their favorite foods.
We had an assortment of meats, and had fun trying so many new foods.
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.)
As you can see, we all had a lot of fun trying everything and going back for seconds for our favorites!
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!
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.
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.
On the day we went, there was a beach-themed photo shoot, complete with elaborate backdrops!
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.
For tourists, they offer an English menu. And even have dishes for those with food allergies.
I liked the food a lot, but prefer my made-from-scratch version. So you’re feeling adventurous, here is the recipe!
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.
Plus a couple of unusual items, like a Spam Burger.
I liked my burger. But it wasn’t the best burger I ever had.
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.
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.
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.
If you have any restaurant recommendations in Tokyo, share them in the comments!
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