Well known for its colourful food scene, there are more Tokyo Michelin star restaurants than any other city in the world. Enjoying a top-rated meal is high on the to-do list for any foodie, but all the fancy meals can quickly pile up. Luckily there are Tokyo Michelin star restaurants out there that won’t have you breaking the bank!
The trick to enjoying top quality meals for cheap in Tokyo is to go during lunch. They are usually ‘previews’ of the more elaborate dinner menus! Here’s a list of very affordable Tokyo Michelin star restaurants to visit.
1. Shinjuku Kappo Nakajima
Shinjuku Kappo Nakajima probably has the cheapest Michelin-star lunch sets in town. While the dinner omakase starts from ¥13,300 (~S$160), lunch is priced from just ¥880 (~S$11)! Sardines are the star here, and you can have them in various ways. Deep-fried, simmered in shoyu stock, as sashimi or in a nabe (hotpot) set. We highly recommend the Yanagawa Nabe set! Lunch starts at 11.30am and the restaurant does not accept lunch reservations, so expect to queue.
The second ramen restaurant to receive a Michelin star, Nakiryu is known for its signature Dandanmen (¥850, ~$10). Here, the famous Szechuan dish receives a Japanese twist. The broth is made from a ‘triple stock’ – chicken, beef bone and oyster – to give a satisfying umami flavor. Don’t be afraid of the bright orange colour, the dish is only mildly spicy and as light as shoyu ramen! If you can handle more spice, go for extra spicy at an additional ¥50.
3. Ginza Uchiyama
Ginza Uchiyama is a high-end kaiseki restaurant that has consecutively received stars since 2008! Thankfully, their lunch sets won’t require you to sell your kidney. Prices start from just ¥1,500 (~S$18), which is a fraction of the dinner course meals which can easily set you back at least ten times that amount! Make sure to try their signature dish, the Sea Bream Chazuke. Refined, exquisite and comforting all at once, it is definitely no ordinary bowl of green tea rice.
Zuisetsu is well-known for its Japanese-Cantonese fusion cuisine. Serving up an elaborate menu with distinct and interesting flavors, dinner can set you back ¥10,000 yen. But at lunchtime, you can get a delicious bowl of noodles for just ¥1,200 (~S$15)! Better yet, go for a lunch set, which starts from ¥1,620 (~S$20). The exquisite Chinese-influenced bites will leave you wanting for the elaborate dinner menu!
Soba might be a surprising dish to receive Michelin recognition, but it’s a national favourite. Sasuga’s signature dish is their Juwari soba, which is made from 100% buckwheat. This extra high quality soba is handmade and can be enjoyed in a number of ways. For just ¥1,000 (~S$12) yen, you can have Kakesoba (soba in hot soup) to Zaru Soba (cold soba with dipping sauce). Or for an additional ¥700, get their Kamonegi Soba which comes with duck and a hot dipping sauce!
As one of the most affordable Tokyo Michelin star restaurants, the inconspicuous restaurant is easy to miss. Here, owner-chef Kenichi Nagumo uses seasonal ingredients to depict the changing seasons. Try the three-course Oshizushi to Nyūmen set (¥2,500, ~S$30), which include starters, nyūmen, and three pieces of mackerel oshizushi (pressed sushi).
Although it only opened in 2018, Hideto Akiyama’s kappō Japanese restaurant has already set itself apart from the pack. Chef Akiyama’s usual modus operandi is omakase, except on Sundays between 12 and 2 pm when he presents an affordable a la carte soba menu. Several varieties of handmade noodles and upscale takes on izakaya bar staples are available. It’s easy to exceed ¥3,000 (~S$36) especially if you’re having sake, making it one of the pricier but still affordable Tokyo Michelin star restaurants.