Sunday, 10 September 2017

How to Eat Out on a Budget in Japan

Eating out in Japan is not cheap.

Just to give you an idea on the cost of eating out in Japan, let me share with you some of the meals I had when I was there in June.

A dinner of udon, 2 pieces of tonkatsu and a drink like this in the Dotonbori area in Osaka costs around JPY 1,500 (sorry I didn't jot down the exact figure).

Udon + 2 sticks tonkatsu + drink = Approximately JPY 1,500

This shabu shabu that we had for dinner in one of the restaurants in Shinjuku, Tokyo costs JPY 2,680 per person:

Shabu shabu buffet dinner (JPY 2,680 per person)

Takoyaki from the famous Hanadako in Umeda Station:

Left: JPY 420, Right: JPY 520. 
Totally worth the price as it was so delicious. After tasting Hanadako's takoyaki, all other takoyaki pale in comparison.

Okonomiyaki from one of the eateries in the Dotonbori area in Osaka:

Okonomiyaki (JPY 500)

From one of the cafes in Umeda Station, Osaka:

A set of sandwich + matcha latte = JPY 680


Tough luck if you hope to find street stalls in Japan that are common in South East Asia, because you ain't gonna find any.

So where to find cheap food in Japan?

ANSWER: They can be found at convenience stores like Family Mart, Lawson and 7-Eleven. You can also find cheaper food at supermarkets like Fresco which slash their food prices by 30% or more after certain time in the evening in order to clear the stock.

You may ask staff at these convenient stores to heat up your food. Some of the bigger outlets even have tables and chairs where you can sit and enjoy your hot meal.

Here are examples of food that I bought from Family Mart and Fresco and their prices.

From FamilyMart:

Fried noodles (JPY 360)

From FamilyMart:

Steamed rice + salmon + fried egg + preserved vegetables = JPY 430

From Fresco:

Fried rice: JPY 298 (after 30% discount)
Salad: JPY 198 (after 30% discount)
Didn't jot down the price of the cherry tomatoes

Another cheaper alternative is to buy ramen like this:

Ramen (JPY 450)

... that is ordered through ticket machines like this:

All instructions on this machine are in Japanese. So if you can't read Japanese (like me!) you may observe how the locals do it, or ask for help.

And to end this blog post, let me share with you the price of banana and watermelon in Japan:

Banana and watermelon have to be imported to Japan thus the exhorbitant prices. Now I understand why my Japanese colleague eat lots of banana when he was in KL.

For a person like myself coming from South East Asia where banana and watermelon are considered cheap fruits, I couldn't help but exclaim that food in Japan is indeed expensive.

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