Not really, we loved the cheap high-quality sushi, but for real, Japanese food is so much more than that.The same effort and perfectionism the Japanese put in jobs apply to their kitchens: it tastes wonderful and it's insta-perfect. Japan is a paradise for foodies, and while we are on a tight budget, we managed to get some great experiences without breaking the piggy bank. Here's how.
Udon / Soba / Ramen is not just noodle soup it's a combination of flavors and toppings that will leave you full and happy for the smallest price.
Budget: USD 6~10 p/p
Okonomiyaki is Hiroshima's traditional dish, a mix of everything available between a pancake and an egg, delicious.
Budget: 7~12 USD p/p
Donburi is as simple as it is tasty, a rice bowl covered with premium quality produce.
Budget: USD 8~10 p/p
Izakaya is the traditional Japanese restaurant where workers go to get drunk and eat with colleagues after work. Not a burger joint! More similar to a tapas bar where the Master, yes the Master, directs the place to serve fresh and perfectly elaborated dishes in the most beautiful presentation. Not the cheapest but Wow!
Budget: 15~25 USD p/p including Sake.
Yakitori means skewers, delicious ones, a bit expensive since you'll need several to fill up, but worth a try. Especially the special Japanese beef (Wagyu) among them the Kobe one if you're not on a budget.
Budget: USD 2~5 per skewer, be prepared to pay USD 20 to get filled.
Supermarkets are not easy to find, but every chance we had to cook in the hostel we seized the chance to reduce our expenses. Usually, we didn't manage 🙂 the products are so so sexy on the shelves we just took more and more! The fish is clean and inviting, even the butchery. Forget about your neighborhood fish shop you can smell from blocks away! Everything is neatly packed (too much plastic) and even salads or sauces are ready made.
Budget: 10 USD p/p for a whole meal.
Sushi: yeah, fuck it, but it's still deliciously fresh and so much cheaper than the one at home that you just can't a ignore it. Usually on a conveyor belt, as you can just pick whatever comes your way. When you're done they count your color/price-coded plates and you go home stuffed with these delicacies.
Budget: between USD 1 and 5 per plate, usually 10 USD p/p.
Finally, Conbini is the not-so-secret code for the convenience store that took over the Japanese streets. 7-Eleven, Lawson, Family Mart and more are probably the most ubiquitous shops in the whole country, and they offer a wide variety of cheap and not bad fast food: rice balls, noodles, curries, buns and even some disgusting things floating in water for days. All ready to warm and go. Some bento boxes will fill you up.
Budget: 5~7 USD p/p.
There's no shame in Western food: usually, we try to eat local, it's a good way to experience the country we're visiting and at the same time keep the bucks in the right place. But sometimes you can't stand it. Japan was the first place where we recurred to the western cuisine not because we were sick of the local food, but because it was sooo good. The Japanese learned the best treats and made it better, as usual: Croissants that shames Paris', better pancakes than the Americans and beef that almost plays even with Argentina's.
Budget: USD 12 + USD 3 for coffee.
*Most places serve "Set-o" for lunch, where you can have rice and miso soup by adding only a couple of dollars to your order.