Anthony Bourdain once said, “I love Tokyo. If I had to eat only in one city for the rest of my life, Tokyo would be it.” Not only does this foodie city have some of the best food options, you can dine on a budget, to boot. This itinerary takes you on an expedition through several of Tokyo’s neighborhoods to give you a taste of the cuisine that makes it one of the world’s — and not just Tony’s — favorite dining destinations.
Fuel up for the day with an onigiri.
Begin your day with a quick stop at Family Mart, 7-11, or any other konbini (convenience store) for an onigiri — the triangle-shaped, seaweed-wrapped rice ball is a quintessential on-the-go Japanese snack. Salmon, cod roe, tuna and mayo, or pickled plum are all popular fillings. If you can’t figure out what’s inside from the packaging, we suggest rolling the dice and enjoying the surprise once you take a bite.
Price: ¥100 (approximately $1)
Have a seafood breakfast at Tsukiji’s outer market.
While Tsukiji market is well-known for its tuna auction and specialty sushi shops, the real reason to visit is the fresh seafood in the outer market stands. Get a thick cut of toro sliced to eat as sashimi, or take your pick of all kinds of grilled seafood, like unagi skewers or oysters on the half shell. After you’ve had your fill of savory bites, try the tamago (egg omelette) on a stick at Marutake.
Price: ¥200 for grilled unagi skewer, ¥100 for Marutake tamago skewer; approximately ¥2000 ($16) total
Address: 4-10-16 Tsukiji, Chuo, Tokyo, Japan Marutake: 4-10-11 Tsukiji, Chuo, Tokyo
Get your fill of charcoal-grilled meat at Butayarou.
Stroll through Ginza’s high-end shops and on through the Imperial Palace to work up your appetite before you reach Butayarou in Ochanomizu. The line usually snakes up the stairs to the small, unassuming third floor shop for good reason. Place your order by vending machine and you’ll be rewarded with a bowl of marinated grilled pork over rice topped with chopped green onion. Bowls come in three sizes, though a small order is plenty filling — especially because you’ll want to leave room for the rest of the day’s meals.
Price: ¥500-¥900 ($4-$8) depending on size
Address: 3F, 2-6-15 Kanda Surugadai, Chiyoda, Tokyo
Stop by Gindaco for takoyaki.
Hop on the Chiyoda subway line to Meijijingu-Mae Station, where you can visit the peaceful Meiji Shrine and Harajuku’s Takeshita Street. Of course, while you’re in the area, you can also stop for takoyaki — balls of grilled dough stuffed with octopus. Takoyaki are crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and served piping hot with a generous amount of sauce and mayonnaise. Go for the original version first, but stuffings like cheese and green onion are worth a try, too.
Price: ¥550 ($5) for 8 balls
Address: Toshikazu Bldg., 1-14-24 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo
Enjoy a well-priced sushi dinner at Sushi Zanmai.
For high-quality sushi at reasonable prices, make your way to Sushi Zanmai, a casual 24-hour eatery. Take a seat at the bar and make your selection of nigiri from an English picture menu before passing off your order form to the chef. Some of our favorites are chu-toro (medium fatty tuna). engawa (flounder fin), and ebi (sweet shrimp).
Price: ¥100-¥400 per nigiri; around $24 for 12 pieces
Address: Kentos Bldg., 3-14-11 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo
Close the night with a bowl of Afuri Ramen.
After bar-hopping your way through the nightlife district of Roppongi, there’s nothing better to end a boozy evening than with a bowl of ramen. Half of a soft-boiled egg and a few slices of grilled chashu pork top the noodles. Known for its light, citrusy yuzu-flavored broth made with chicken, fish, and seaweed, Afuri won’t leave you sluggish right before bed.
Price: ¥1,000 yen ($8)
Address: 4-9-4 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo