Tokyo is a city of endless dining options, from the super cheap ramen joints to Michelin star soba restaurants to world class pizza. Although the endless options can at times seem overwhelming, the best thing about eating in Tokyo is that you can find something for any taste and budget. For those with high-class taste, but a more modest budget, here are seven surprisingly affordable fine dining experiences you can have in Tokyo.
Restaurant, Italian, Australian, $$$
When the overwhelming culinary choices in Tokyo get to be too much, there’s just one place to go: OUT. Conceived in Australia, inspired by Italy and located in Shibuya, this restaurant has a very simple concept. The menu offers just one dish (a truffle pasta), one wine and plays one band, Led Zeppelin. Offering a contemporary take on the fine dining experience, this stylish and moody pasta joint serves up different truffles depending on the season. The set meal and wine costs 4,500 yen (about $42 USD / £30).
For the fine dining experience on a very tight budget, head on over to the Tsurutontan udon restaurant chain in Roppongi. This dimly lit, sophisticated, multi-level restaurant is filled with surprises. The first thing you’ll notice is the restaurant’s massive bowls, the diameter of which is at least as long as your forearm. Expect to be even more astonished when you browse the menu prices: anytime between 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., you can get a huge bowl of udon for 1,500 yen ($13 USD / £9). You’d think with prices like that, some expense would be spared, but even the bathrooms here feel like a five-star establishment with complementary toothbrushes, mouthwash and other amenities free to use.
Although this one is a little more on the pricier side, in terms of value for money and experience, you can’t overlook this cult favorite. Started by one of Japan’s most groundbreaking and famous modern chefs, Zaiyu Hasegawa, The Den has been named one of ‘The World’s 50 Best Restaurants’. Here the dining experience is all about just that, the experience. Each dish is personally tailored to each patron in some little special way. The restaurant also serves up strange and quirky parodies of big name chain restaurants including Starbucks and KFC. It also offers a new take on kaiseki, which involves a series of small, intricately crafted dishes. Each course is a fun little adventure in itself.
Chain and fine-dining don’t necessarily sound like two things that go hand-in-hand, but here at Ume no Hana that’s changing pretty quickly. Serving up contemporary tofu kaiseki (small dish) with a classic charm, Ume no Hana allows guests to travel between Japan’s culinary past and future with each bite. With a sophisticated interior and prices ranging between 2,000–9,000 yen per person ($19-85 USD / £14-61), there’s a fine dining experience here for all budgets.
When it comes to eating the very best meat in Japan, you can’t beat Kobe beef. Tokyo is home to some of the best fine dining Kobe restaurants, but for something that won’t blow your budget, visit Kobe Beef Kaiseki 511. Located in the high-end neighborhood of Akasaka, this stylish restaurant serves up only top-grade Tajima cattle in almost every way imaginable. If you’re looking for a budget experience, you can visit for lunch, as the menu offers options between 1,800- 12,300 yen ($17-120 USD / £12-86) depending on what you’re after. For dinner you’ll have to sign up for a Kobe beef course, which is going to cost a little more.
For the quintessential high-life Tokyo experience, you can’t miss Shinjuku’s New York Bar and the New York Grill in the Park Hyatt, aka, the bar from ‘Lost in Translation’. While looking through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows at the almost endless Tokyo skyline, you can enjoy the best both New York and Tokyo have to offer with the grill’s extensive list of local and imported beef. For a full luxury lunch experience, you’re looking at around 5,500 yen ($53 USD / £38) or 4,500 yen ($42 USD / £30) for a US Black Angus New York strip steak. As is typical in Tokyo, dinner can get a little pricier.
For fine sushi dining, you can’t do much better than Manten Sushi in the salaryman hub of Marunouchi. It’s called a mid-to-top range sushi restaurant, but that’s really only because the price is cheaper than expected. The sushi is nothing short of world class. One of the restaurant’s dinner options is a 6,000 yen ($64 USD / £46) omakase, meaning chef’s recommendation course, bring guests 13-15 different plates of top-of-the-line sushi. Why it’s so cheap is a little bit of a mystery; however, those prices have made it one of the city’s most popular sushi hangouts. It even frequently appears on many local TV programs.