Cheap Eats in Japan

Feb 27th, 2009 | By | Category: Food

You may have heard that dining out is expensive in Japan but that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, you can sample a wide variety of foods from Japan for under $10!

Bento Boxes

Grocery Stores and konbini (convenience store) usually have a selection of pre-made bento boxes that average around US$5 or less.  A large portion of rice and a selection of seafood and/or meat are usually available or you could try a refreshing zaru soba (cold soba noodles) bento in the summer.

Bento Japan

How about a tasty selection of assorted sushi or sashimi for less that US$6?

Sushi Bento


Hanamaru Udon (English on signs read ‘Manmaru’) is a fast food Udon (thick wheat based noodle ) chain that operates 187 restaurants throughout Japan and  serves over 2.5 millions customers each month.

Hanamaru offers an English menu, but the picture menu will suffice if you are an adventurous eater that is not afraid of a mystery ingredient or two.  If that’s not you then try the kake udon (plain, pictured above) starting around US$2 or bukake udon (with lemon) for approximately US$3 and supplement it with a selection of ala carte tempura or onigiri (rice balls) many sstarting at under US $1 per piece  The Curry Rice Set of the Beef Bowl  both include a small bowl of udon in broth and will satisfy heartier appetites for under US$6.

A tasty and filling lunch or dinner for two can be had for between US$10-15 at Hanamaru Udon.

For those who prefer ramen noodles, pop into a local shop or Ippudo Ramen and join the salarymen and women for a similar experience – this time with a pork based broth and thinner noodles all for around US$8.

Ramen Salarymen


Donburi is a one bowl meal where a large portion of rice is topped with vegetables, sashimi, meat or tempura and drizzled with a savoury sauce.  My favorite is the ebi-tempura don which usually sells for around US$8.

ebi donburi

Top it all off with a One Cup Sake that can be purchased for around US$2 and you’re all set to eat like a samurai for under US$10!

one cup sake

Image Credit:  Personal Collection Flickr, Cheap dinner, Ramen Museum, Yokohama, DSC_2665 & Sake, single serving.

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  1. that bento looks quite delicious

  2. I have had some pretty good 7-11 bentos during my time in Japan so far.

  3. Nice information and nice pictures, I’m killing to eat the 590yen sashimi now @.@

  4. I just wanted to correct you real fast that its not called Yaki Soba (the cold noodle dish) its called “Hiyashu Chuka”

  5. Freedom, I too have found the convenience store bentos to be surprisingly good!

    Lisa, you did catch a “misprint” I meant to write zaru soba (cold buckwheat noodles) rather than yaki soba (fried noodles) which by the way are often served in bento at room temperature. Hiyashu Chuka is another great cold dish but it is made with ramen or somen noodles. All would fall into the cheap & delicious eats from Japan category though, don’t you think?

  6. I love the One Cup Ozeki.

  7. Those bento boxes look so colorful and delicious. And for $5? Wow that’s a good bargain!

  8. The donburi looks great, a personal favorite of mine… unagi (eel) donburi! Aaahh… but anyway, back on topic of cheap eats… how about just grabbing an instant-noodle and adding some fresh ingredients into it? I remember having a great meal of instant noodles with eggs and vegetables when I was in NZ… broke and on our last day of the trip! ?

  9. Very nice post!!! You made me hungry! I am going for Japanese Food tomorrow!!! Thank you for sharing!


  10. Wow, I love Japanese food like these ones photographed here

    I am a fan of unagidon and ramen

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