How to eat in Tokyo

Sukiyaki set lunch (teishoku) for about 900 yen.

How much does it cost to eat in Tokyo? What are the basic customs? How do you say “cheers?” How much should you tip?

How much?

Of course it depends on how much you eat and drink, but Tokyo is not as expensive as most people think.

  • A teishoku (set meal) dinner with a breaded pork cutlet, rice, a small salad and miso soup will cost around ¥1000.
  • You can get a bowl of ramen for around ¥800.
  • Sushi of course will cost more, but you can get a cheap sushi dinner at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant (called kaiten zushi) for around ¥1000.
  • A cheap izakaya (a drinking restaurant) will be around ¥2000 and a nice one ¥4000 and up.
  • Most izakaya restaurants offer an all-you-can-drink (beer, wine, shochu and whiskey cocktails) deal for around ¥1500 for two hours.
  • Budget travelers can spend as little as ¥500 a meal.

Price range of meals:
Dinner ¥1500-3000
Lunch ¥800-1500
Average cost of alcoholic drinks ¥500

What you should know:

  • Japan is a cash society, so bring enough yen when you go out. However, credit cards are accepted in most places.
  • Many places, especially izakaya, will serve a small appetizer when you sit down called otoshi and tack on a small charge to your bill, usually under ¥500. They won’t tell you about it and it is not customary to refuse it. Think of it as a table charge.
  • No tipping in Japan! You can try to leave something on the table, but they might chase after you and hand it back.
  • While tipping is not necessary, a few restaurants (usually the fancy ones) will add an automatic table charge and/or a service fee of 10-15%.
  • Many customers smoke inside restaurants and only a few offer non-smoking sections. Kinen-seki means non-smoking seat.
Fish on skewers.

Fish on skewers.

 

Etiquette

Here is a lesson on Japanese table manners, especially the use of chopsticks. But in Japan it’s okay to slurp your noodles!

Useful Words

Ikura desu ka?
How much?

Itadakimasu
Bon Appetit!

Oishi
Delicious

Umai!
What people say when eating something delicious

Mazui
Bland, tasteless

Kampai!
Cheers!

Okawari kudasai
Refill please

Kekkou desu
No thank you.

Gochisosama-deshita
Thanks for the meal.

O-kaikei kudasai
Check please.

O-hashi
Chopsticks

Fouku
Fork

Mizu
Water

O-hiya
restaurant term for cold drinking water, used by the staff, not by the customer

 

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