What to Eat and Where to Stay On a Budget in Tokyo

With an extensive honeymoon planned, we wanted to stay within a reasonable budget for our first stop in Tokyo. We had been there previously and knew it was our favorite city, but our main splurge would come later in the honeymoon (Maldives). Some thoughtful planning led to some unforgettable meals and a hotel choice that was perfect for our preferences.

Park Hotel Tokyo

Park Hotel Tokyo is a lovely boutique art hotel located in the Shiodome business area, walkable to the Ginza district. It’s in a very convenient location with multiple metros stops closeby and is walkable to a mall with plenty of food options.

The concierge was extremely helpful at booking restaurants before we arrived. They were also kind enough to provide us with a print out map and photos of what to look for to find the restaurants (which is very helpful in Japan). The service didn’t stop there. When we arrived they also welcomed us for our honeymoon with a bottle of champagne and a beautifully decorated room.

Speaking of room, if you are into art you absolutely need to book a room on one of the artist floors. It was one of the major reasons we chose this hotel and we weren’t disappointed. There’s also a lounge you can access if you book one of these types of rooms, which serves limited breakfast snacks and evening wine. We loved our geisha goldfish room, and they even have the backstory online. Although most hotels in Tokyo aren’t big, the room felt like a decent size and had a gorgeous view of the Tokyo Tower.

Sushi (Sushi Dai)

The sushi in Japan can range from super affordable fun conveyor belt sushi to top of the line Michelin star omakase with impossible to get reservations. The best balance between the two is Sushi Dai, located in the (new) Toyosu fish market. During our last trip to Tokyo we tried to go to the old Tsukiji market location, but had to pass – the line was about 3-4 hours long and it was winter. This time, we decided to give it another try when we were jet-lagged and awake at 5 am.

The new fish market doesn’t have all the genuine down to earth appeal of the last one, but the major benefit is it’s now located inside and has stools. Get there as soon as they open or shortly after and you should not have a substantial wait. It took us less than an hour to get in for the second sitting and it was definitely worth the time. It was the best sushi meal I had for 4500 JPY and surpassed other sushi places that were over double that price. They even allowed you at the end to pick one piece of nigiri of choice, which for us was the Ebi (pictured above).

Izakayas (Jomon Roppongi) & Street Food

If there is any place that you need to try when you’re on a budget and want delicious food, it has to be izakayas and street food. Jomon Roppongi is the place to go as far as izakayas. It’s one of the few places in Tokyo where I was satisfied with the vegetable options and blown away by some of the meat skewers (get the short rib, pictured twice. No regrets.) Also, reserve a spot ahead of time. We made the mistake of waiting until the last minute and ended up having to make a reservation for late at night, but it was absolutely worth it.

“Street” and mall food in Tokyo can be outlandish and delicious. Takoyaki (octopus balls) is one example of food I wish we had in NYC. How come we get old boiled hot dogs and Tokyo gets these delicious foods? Also keep an eye out for the Japanese sweet potato, which at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, might blow your expectations out of the water when it comes to potatoes.

Wagyu Steak (Satou)

My husband is a steak/meat-eater to the core. He watched the Netflix documentary “Steak Revolution” more than once and might have a list hidden on his phone of all the places to go to on it. I’m an ex-pescatarian and while I enjoy steak, I’m usually not craving it, and if needed could go through life without it.

That being said, this was the meal he was most looking forward to and I had cautious optimism. Satou is the best steak I, or he, ever had. It’s tender, and depending on your cut, it has just the right amount of fat that melts in your mouth. Personally, I felt his steak was a bit too fatty for my preference, but he thoroughly enjoyed it.

The waitstaff was also spectacular. Extremely considerate and spoke English amazingly well. When they found out it was our honeymoon they were kind enough to give us Japanese fan gifts and their branded curry.

If you are able to, I highly recommend booking a table at Satou. Even though this is not the most budget-friendly option there are some more inexpensive options on the menu (and you can also go for lunch). Definitely make a reservation ahead of time.

Ramen (Ichiran) & Udon

Ichiran is known for their solo booths, so you might think why would we go on our honeymoon. The single booths can actually be extended for groups or couples that want to sit together, although I would not recommend visiting with many people. It was a perfect budget-friendly honeymoon meal – sitting next to each other in a small booth with two delicious bowls of ramen. It’s also a great stop if you’re in a rush (and if there’s no line) since you don’t have to deal much with any type of wait staff.

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