Tokyo is an expensive city, and eating out while traveling can really add up. But we’ve found plenty of Tokyo restaurants we call medium priced. Tokyo does offer many places where you can eat a reasonably priced meal for lunch or dinner. We’ve eaten at many of these restaurants both at lunch and dinner.
Here’s a tip: Try a set menu at lunch, which includes a main course, a glass of wine or beer and a dessert. You can choose how you want to combine these things for a lower price. Many Japanese eat their big meal of the day at lunch because the portions are larger, and the cost is less expensive.
Also check out our other Tokyo posts.
Cafe La Bohéme Azabu-Juban
The Azabujuban neighborhood is a melting pot of locals and expats. It’s close to Roppongi and Roppongi Hills. If you are in the area, you’ll want to visit this small but special Italian restaurant. They are open for lunch and dinner.
The quality of food and service at Cafe La Bohéme are great. Many Tokyo restaurants offer lunch time deals, and Cafe La Bohéme is no exception. Choose a main course, and then chose a drink, an appetizer, a salad, etc. It’s a fixed price depending on how many things you order.
For both lunch and dinner, the pricing is moderate. Lunch pricing is lower, particularly with the set menu. With dinner, you might linger longer and enjoy a glass of wine or limoncello, so pricing tends to be higher. And portions are larger at dinner.
In the summer, Cafe La Bohéme opens their street-side windows. The restaurant has two floors, so you can do people watching from multiple levels.
Pizza Strada, Azabujuban
I can guess what you are thinking. Pizza?! This isn’t medium priced; it should be cheap eats! Well, in Tokyo, a medium pizza runs about $20. Since we lived in Azabujuban, we loved the convenience and food at Pizza Strada.
This is terrific pizza. The selections are not wide, but the quality is very good. Delivery is available for many locations in the surrounding area, or you can dine in. If you are looking for some American-style pizza in Tokyo, Pizza Strada is the one you need to check out.
The restaurant is walking distance from many locations in Azabujuban or Roppongi. We often ordered a take-away or take-out order. The delivery person rode a motorcycle and dropped off our pie at the front desk. Just like home!
TGI Fridays, Shinagawa
TGI Fridays will bring back memories for American customers because it has the look and feel of a TGI Fridays restaurants in the United States. This restaurant originally was in Roppongi, but later moved to Shinagawa.
TGI Fridays in Tokyo serves a wide variety of American foods, including burgers, ribs, salads and steaks. Draft beer choices aren’t great with only three selections. But TGI Fridays offers plenty of bottled beer and mixed drink selections. Service is friendly and swift.
One thing to get used to in Japan is smoking in restaurants. For us, that meant going upstairs, but of course the smoke from downstairs wafted upstairs. It’s not terrible, but it’s not what you probably were hoping for. Be sure to ask to move to a different table because the wait staff know where the least offensive place is for nonsmokers.
We heard about Frijoles and how it was similar to Chipotle in the United States. Like Chipotle, Frijoles uses only fresh ingredients. And you select your fillings in a very similar manner.
Frijoles’ quality of the food was excellent. They’ve been around for five years and do a good lunch crowd. And they’re busy on the weekends. We did carryout a few times and walked back to our apartment at the Oakwood Residence. But if you prefer to dine in, there are a few tables inside.
We loved this restaurant, and it still is very popular. Enjoy!
Salvatore Cuomo, Roppongi
We heard Salvatore Cuomo in Roppongi offered an excellent lunch buffet. So we tried it for lunch and to take in the view of the Mori Garden.
Salvatore Cuomo has more outdoor seating than indoor. The outside seating overlooks the Mori Garden, which dates to the Edo Period. You also get a view of Tokyo Tower. If you want an outdoor table, be sure to go in to be seated. For chilly days, they have lots of gas heaters keeping everyone warm. And if you’re still chilled, they’ll offer you a blanket!
The lunch buffet is all you can eat, with a wide variety of pizzas, pastas and salad. You can get a drink and dessert added to your meal for a nominal charge. They even offered wine and champagne options for the set menu.
The pricing is reasonable for all the food you could eat, and the wine prices are affordable, too. We think you’ll be pleased.
Torigin Honten, Ginza
Affordably priced, Torigin Honten in Ginza offers nicely varied options, but the theme is Yakatori.
Generally, yakatori is chicken on a stick, which is grilled over a charcoal fire with spices. Torigin Honten offers many different varieties of chicken but also grills many tasty vegetables.
They also serve kamameshi, which translates to kettle rice. The rice is cooked with various types of chicken and vegetables, flavored with soy sauce and mirin. The process slightly burns the rice at the bottom. But it adds to the flavor, so mixed it around!
Torigin Honten is where the locals go, so you won’t hear much English. But they have an English menu, and you can have a great meal and experience.
Of note, Torigin Honten is cash only. We’ve been to so many different Tokyo restaurants, and all of them accept credit cards. Torigin Ginza, however, does not accept credit cards. There is an ATM nearby to get cash if you need it.
Tonkatsu Tenyama, Shinkawa
Tonkatsu Tenyama is close to where I worked in Shinkawa, which is near Kayabacho in Chuo-ku. We went here for lunch only because our usual Korean BBQ restaurant closed. Tonkatsu Tenyama is very cozy and warm, especially on a cold and rainy Tokyo day.
Tonkatsu Tenyama offers many Korean BBQ choices for lunch. You did not actually cook your meat on the burner set into the table. For lunch, they do this for you. We had a deconstructed version of bibimbap, with the rice, meat, sauce and pickles on different plates so you can make your own the way you like.
The food was reasonable at ¥1000 for lunch. The dinner menu looked more robust. The tables all had burners, so I assume you enjoy a larger and more expensive meal at dinner.
Tonkatsu Tenyama played Beatles music all through lunch, so that made me a big fan of the place!
I don't know why the name of the restaurant has tonkatsu in it. We didn't see any tonkatsu on the menu; this restaurant is Korean BBQ.
Asian Dining & Bar Jalpan, Kayabacho
I passed by Asian Dining & Bar Jalpan on a side street. One of the owners stepped outside to introduce himself. They had a sign outside that had English and Japanese names for their dishes. That's rare in Tokyo.
I went back to have a curry. It was excellent! For ¥800 you get a large Indian naan, a salad, yellow rice and curry. Also included is a drink. They offered me more naan, but one was large enough for lunch. Service was fast and friendly.
Uogashi Nihonichi, Kayabacho
Like many restaurants in Tokyo, you can get a first-class sushi lunch at Uogashi Nihonichi for a reasonable price. It is virtually the same meal as dinner but less expensive.
Case in point: We had ten pieces of fresh sushi, soup, a custard tea, green tea and other items for less than ¥1000. The quality was excellent, and the service was quick. This is a chain, with ten restaurants noted on their flyer. The Uogashi Nihonichi in Kayabacho is below street level. You can look at the sample dishes from the street, before going below for a fine sushi meal.
My translator and I used to go here. It was close to work and always was crowded when we passed. Popular restaurants normally are a sign for good quality. We went early (11:30 AM) for lunch because we knew the crowds would arriving soon.
Between us, we had sweet and sour shrimp and cashew chicken. Both were delicious. The lunch service included tea; soft drinks were a small extra charge. Pricing was inexpensive, and dining with the locals was pleasant. My translator took care of ordering, but the menu had plenty of pictures and I could easily point to something. Our server also spoke some English. It was fun trying to figure out what we both could say in each other’s languages.
We tried Sky Survey for the tempura. This restaurant is in the Chuo area, close to both Kayabacho and Shinkawa.
The standard lunch dish includes shrimp, whitefish, squid and vegetables served on rice. They also serve a delicious soup and pickles. Tea is unlimited. The atmosphere is basic, but the food is very good.
Aux Bacchanales, Kioicho
Aux Bacchanales might be Madeline’s favorite restaurant in Tokyo. The restaurant has multiple locations all over Japan, including four in Tokyo.
When we lived in Azabujuban, we would frequently went to the Ark Hills location, which is now closed.
When we’ve been back to Tokyo, we go to the Aux Bacchanales near the New Otani Hotel in Kioicho. I used to work in Kioicho and occasionally had lunch at Aux Bacchanales. I enjoy their steak frites.
Madeline loved the French onion soup and often ordered it.
She also frequently ordered the Caesar salad. She’d share it with me, and I’d give her some of my frites, or French fries.
The food here is excellent and so is the service. The staff is very attentive, but also allowed us to linger after the meal; it’s nice not to be rushed to leave.
They offer patio dining, as well as lots of seating inside with a very nice old-world bar.
This is a great place to go to get a little Paris in the middle of Tokyo.
When I worked in Shinkawa, I ate at Ryufuku with a Japanese business colleague. The restaurant is below street level, but you easily can find it. The menu was in Japanese but provided pictures of most items. And I recognized many of the traditional Chinese dishes. I cheated since my colleague spoke Japanese, but really she just confirmed my guesses as to what the dishes were.
The servers did speak a little English. I tried the sweet and sour pork (from the picture!). There were many other styles that would have been suitable for a Western palette.
My lunch came with egg drop soup, rice, salad and a small dessert. They also offered complimentary coffee and tea.
Ryufuku provides ample seating. The staff was very friendly to me and tried to speak my language. The food tasted great, and we’ll eat here again on our next trip.
Tip: Because many restaurants in Tokyo are below street level or on the second floor, be sure to look up and down when looking for your restaurant.
Ishibashi is a yakitori restaurant. I went for lunch with a Japanese colleague. It would have been difficult without her. I don’t speak fluent Japanese, but I recognized meals from their pictures.
I chose a multi course set meal for ¥850, or about $8. It included yakitori-style chicken on top of rice with a savory sauce. My meal included green tea, miso soup, a salad and two skewers of a chicken meatball. The meal filled me up, and we sat among salary men on their lunch break. It was very enjoyable, and you feel as if you are having a more traditional Japanese meal.
Ishibashi is not a place to linger. We saw people lined up outside and waiting to eat. We didn’t rush our lunch but left soon after we finished eating to let others enter and dine. If you want to eat like a Tokyo native, try Ishibashi.
The King of Sword Cutting Noodles, Kayabacho
I had a tough time getting the exact address of the King of Sword. The restaurant was on my way to and from work, and I remember frequently walking past. In the window I’d see one of the chefs with a knife, and he was flicking long strands of uncooked noodles into a very large pot.
I couldn’t get the translation of the restaurant but always remembered the chef with the knife. With dogged persistence I found it on Google Maps.
The King of Sword is famous for its noodles, which are white and thick and served in various styles. I had mine with minced pork and vegetables; it was very good! The noodles are similar to udon, a bit al dente so it's a slightly chewy texture but goes very well with all the toppings.
The space small, with only space for 30 or so diners. When you are done eating, they ask you to leave so they can serve other diners. (This is a Japanese tradition!) You’ll be dining with the locals at this restaurant, which is always fun—and tasty!
Cona is close to where I lived in Tokyo. An Italian restaurant, it served other things, too. We went here for lunch and I was lucky to be with a Japanese-speaking friend who translated.
For lunch they had a set menu with different kinds of hamburger steak, topped with red wine sauce, demi-glaze and the like. With the set meal, you also got a salad, soup, rice and curry, all for ¥900!
We noticed that they also offer ¥500 pizzas in many styles.
Pizzakaya is located closer to Nishiazabu than Roppongi. But it’s easier to get there by going to Roppongi and walking toward Roppongi Hills. You can also get take-out or order for a dinner delivery.
Pizza is expensive in Japan—roughly $40 for a large pizza delivered. But many American products are expensive because the ingredients are expensive. You’ll save the delivery charge if you go to the restaurant. They have craft beers on tap and allow smoking only outside, unlike many other restaurants in Roppongi. They also make gluten-free pizza.
Itsumo, an Italian restaurant, was next door to where I worked in Shinkawa, near Kayabacho Station.
I went to Itsumo with Japanese work colleagues for lunch. We noticed it because of the large display of pictures of food adjacent to the restaurant. They are open for lunch and dinner.
They do not speak English at Itsumo, but you can point at pictures of what you want or even say a few words in Italian; they are accommodating to English speakers.
Even though I had help from my Japanese colleagues, I could’ve ordered what I wanted. Itsumo's staff are very friendly, and they quickly realized my Japanese language skills were not great! So, they switched to a little bit of English and all was well.
Chinese Café Eight, Roppongi
Chinese Café Eight has an expansive Chinese menu. When we lived in Azabujuban at the Oakwood Residence, it was a short walk from our apartment. The first thing we learned about Chinese Café Eight: it’s open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year!
Chinese Café Eight’s menu has English for all dishes, so you can easily understand each dish. They’re famous for their Peking duck, but we stuck with more traditional Cantonese dishes. The quality was excellent; the portions were large.
Service at Chinese Café Eight was not terrific; there are just a few people serving and busing tables. If you're not in a hurry, it's no big deal. But if you’re on a tight schedule, be aware.
All the chefs are from China and are experienced in cooking traditional dishes. They offer more than 300 varieties of Chinese dishes. And this is an affordable restaurant. You can eat a filling meal for less than McDonald’s.
Chinese Café Eight’s staff are friendly. And it was nice to choose from a large menu. But best of all, it open all the time!
Outback Steakhouse, Roppongi
Roppongi has few restaurants familiar to Americans, including Outback, TGI Fridays, Hard Rock Café. We tried Outback Steakhouse for lunch on the weekend.
Like so many Japanese restaurants, Outback offers set menus to choose from. In our case, we had two appetizers that were very large portions.
Outback opens for lunch on the weekends only, beginning at 11:30 AM. They’re open for dinner seven nights a week starting at five o’clock. Service was great, and the food quality was excellent. Just what you’d expect from an Australian-themed American restaurant in Japan!
Tohryu is an elegant Chinese restaurant. It’s close to the Oakwood Residence in Azabujuban where we had an apartment. Madeline and I heard about the restaurant because they speak English and the menu is in English.
We ordered our food on our way home in the restaurant. Instead of waiting we went home, and Tohryu delivered our meal in fine dishes. We had a full set of dishes in our place, but since we were so close, they wanted us to feel like we were dining in their restaurant.
Tohryu asks for their dishes back the next day. If you have leftovers, find a place to store them where you’re staying. They are very friendly, and the cuisine is very good. We saw a fleet of delivery personnel and motorcycles, so I know they also deliver take away in standard Chinese cartons for customers farther away.
If you are in the Azabujuban area and want a fine Chinese meal, stop in and give Tohryu a try.
Symphony at the Royal Park Hotel Tokyo
I stayed at the Royal Park Hotel Tokyo on several occasions. The Symphony acts as the main restaurant for the hotel on the lobby level. For breakfast, they have a great buffet breakfast that caters to both international and Japanese guests.
The Symphony is next to an outdoor waterfall garden that you can watch from most every table. For dinner, the ala carte menu is excellent, with plenty of recognizable Western dishes along with Japanese specialties. I recommend the curry dishes.
The service at the Symphony is excellent, and all the staff tries hard to make your experience enjoyable. It's a nice hotel restaurant. And I recommend eating here even if you’re not staying at the Park Royal!
Uoka’-chan is not in Tokyo. It’s in Hamamatsu, which is an hour and a half Shinkansen ride southwest of Tokyo. And this one is unusual because the specialty of the house is Japanese eel, or unagi.
Uoka’-chan is on the seventh floor of the May One department store next to the Hamamatsu Shinkansen station. When I worked in Nagoya, I needed to go to a warehouse in Hamamatsu. My Japanese colleagues wanted to treat me with a special unagi meal. Unagi is the specialty dish in this area of Japan.
We went here for the unagi, but eel is not everyone. Personally, I don't like the skin, so I ate mine without it. They also have tempura, tonkatsu and many other dishes, so everyone can find something they like.
Being right next to the Shinkansen station, it’s just a half-day trip to and from Tokyo for a local taste of a unique dish.