There are endless places to eat in Tokyo, and although the city boasts a handful of Michelin Stars and high-end restaurants, we’re here for the cheap eats in Tokyo! Think of this heaving metropolis and you’ll envision bright neon lights, colourful flashing signs, weird and wonderful anime, and the juxtaposition of futuristic skyscrapers with stunning historic temples. Think of things to eat in Tokyo and you might envision trays of sushi and, well, not much else. But the there is a whole world of Tokyo street food to uncover. You just need to know where to look!
We’re here to take you through the foodie paradise that is the Tokyo night market, plus some of the best food options in Shinjuku. The aim is to open your eyes to the mouth watering selection of street food in Tokyo and give you the inside scoop on what to eat in Tokyo – without having to break your budget. Think of this as your ultimate Tokyo food guide on where to find the best Japanese street food in the city… (and without a sushi tray in sight!)
This is egg-xactly what you need right now! 📷: @foodieinbristol
Tamogoyaki is a sort of Japanese Omelette, served on a stick. We’re not talking about your ordinary omelettes, oh no! This is an egg-ceptionally tasty, fluffy, sweet omelette served sunny side up on a stick. Tamogoyaki literally translates to grilled egg, and is made by rolling several layers of seasoned egg in a rectangular frying pan. Cracking!
Typical Price: ¥100
Get it from:There are many tamagoyaki shops around Tokyo, but Marutake in Tsukiji’s Jōgai, Outer Market is a good place to start!
So cute, I could just eat you up! 📷: @angguung
Ningyo-yaki, or Doll Cakes, are as adorable as they are delicious. They’re made by pouring a pancake-like batter into intricate moulds. These tiny cakes are jam-packed with anko, a red bean paste, or if you fancy something a little sweeter you can fill your Ningyo-yaki with chocolate or custard instead. They come in a variety of shapes, ranging from the more traditional lanterns or pagodas shapes to extra Instagram-friendly Hello Kitty or Doraemon shaped.
Typical Price: ¥500 for 7
Get it from: Any of the ningyo-yaki stalls around Sensoii Temple in Asakusa.
Too cute to eat? 📷: @dtlyly711
One of Japan’s beloved classics, Dorayaki is a type of soft, fluffy sponge cake sandwiched around sweet red bean paste. Popular fillings include custard, chestnuts, fresh fruit or matcha cream. It’s a palm-sized treat too, which makes it the perfect grab’n’go snack for any visitor.
Typical Price: ¥205
Get it from: Usagiya, a long-established dorayaki store that’s said to have invented the distinctive UFO shaped dorayaki!
4. Beef Manchikatsu
Street meats 📷: @leichian
Made from black-haired Wagyu, one of the Big Threes of Japanese beef, these deep fried beef balls are a true flavourful indulgence! That crispy crunch of panko and the explosion of oh-so-tender, juicy meat will have hooked from the first bite.
Typical Price: ¥220
Get it from: Satou Steak House. Be prepared to wait as the lines are insanely long, but trust us, it’s one of the best places to eat in Tokyo!
5. Mitarashi Dango
Un-ball-eviably tasty! 📷: @merli_sunsan
These adorable little dumplings, made from rice flour, are grilled over charcoal, and then served on bamboo skewers with a gorgeous coating of sweet and gooey soy sauce glaze. Mitarashi Dango is one of the best cheap eats in Tokyo! The contrast between sweet and salty is glorious, and these little balls of chewy goodness will soon become an unexpected favourite.
Typical Price: ¥100 – ¥150
Get it from: Festivals around the city or outside most temples in Tokyo
Oh my god. Look at that bun! 🍑 📷: @koji_komatsu
A classic Japanese pastry, the anpan was first made back in 1875 by a samurai (yes, you read that right… a samurai). One of the best options for Tokyo street food, anpan is a sweet and soft roll with seasonally changing fillings. Typically filled with anko, (that delicious red bean paste), during cherry blossom season you’ll find anpan filled with sakura and in fall they’ll be filled with chestnuts. Ask anyone what to eat in Tokyo and you’ll always hear about anpan!
Typical Price: ¥150
Get it from: Kimuraya, the original anpan store founded by the samurai, Yasubei Kimura, himself!
7. Matcha Gelato Soft Serve
Eat your greens! 😋 📷: @ofnomsandmore
This Japanese street food craze has taken the entire globe by storm. If you haven’t been caught up in the matcha craze, Tokyo will give you the warmest of introductions! Made from finely ground and powdered green tea, matcha is rich, delicious and great for your health – well, before the sugar and mountains of delicious toppings of course!
Typical Price: ¥340 – ¥360 for 1 scoop
Get it from: The award-winning Suzukien Asakusa sells the most intense flavoured matcha gelato in the world. With over 150 years experience, you know you’re in good hands.
8. Harajuku Crepes
Holy Crepe! 😯 📷: @nezuki
What many consider to be the quintessential Harajuku treat, these crazily photogenic crepes are an exemplary representation of Tokyo’s most vibrant and eccentric neighbourhood. Toppings range from chocolate brownies, ice cream, and fresh fruit, to entire slices of cheesecake! True decadence. Prepare yourself for the ultimate sugar rush!
Typical Price: ¥300 – ¥600
Get it from: Basically any creperie in the Harakuju area. Look out for the long lines, that way you’ll know the crepes are good! Marion Crepes or Santa Monica Crepes are always a good shout.
9. Apple Custard Pie
Gimme! 📷: @ringoapplepie
Tokyo’s take on an American classic, these miniature hot cakes are selling like – well – hot cakes! Baked first to get that delightful crunch on the outside, followed by an injection of tart apple filling and heavenly custard cream. These heavenly pies are so good that even your Grandma would be proud!
Typical Price: ¥400
Get it from: Ringo’s Apple Pie. A small corner shop in the Ikebukuro area. Just follow your nose to that glorious smell of apples and cinnamon!
Delish fish 🍤 📷: @assinco
One of Japan’s most world-renowned delicacies, there is an impeccable assortment of Tempura in Tokyo – obviously! The golden perfection comes in many mouth-watering forms, we recommend seafood or vegetable tempura. Deep fried in a super thin coat of batter, tempura is light, crispy and incredibly flavourful. Is this what they call love at first bite?
Typical Price: ¥100 – ¥150 per piece
Get it from: Everywhere. Shinjuku food markets are great for fresh tempura.
Is this saucy enough for you?🐙 📷: @soft_bank_porks
Takoyaki are crispy, golf-ball sized balls with a soft and gooey inside. They are made from wheat flour and filled with green onions, pickled ginger and a bite-sized piece of octopus. Watch the vendors make takoyaki and you’ll be amazed at the impressive display of dexterity involved. For the ultimate flavour explosion be sure to slather on a lavish amount of takoyaki sauce!
Typical Price: ¥400 to ¥600 for 8
Get it from: You’ll be able to find takoyaki at most places to eat in Tokyo, but for a reliable spot head to Gindaco. One of the more popular takoyaki chains, Gindaco is always a safe bet and they’re all over Tokyo.
Ice, ice baby! ❄️ 📷: @yuui_lily
Kakigori is essentially a bowl of shaved ice with syrup, but what makes it really stand out is that it’s exceptionally soft and fluffy, with a powdery texture that closely resembles freshly fallen snow. Top it with flavoured syrup, condensed milk and your choice of toppings for a little bowl of winter as the perfect summer treat – poetic right?!
Typical Price: ¥1000 – ¥2000
Get it from: Various Japanese confectionery shops, but stop at Atelier Sekka, where the ice is from Mount Fuji and the syrups are handmade.
I’ll take four please! 🦑 📷: @donburifeed
A whole, entire squid served straight off the grill on a stick and gently flavoured with sweet soy sauce. The meat is chewy, but tender and succulent in the best of ways. We’re not squidding – it’s sensational!
Typical Price: ¥500
Get it from: Local wet markets are a great place to source this giant grilled squid. But when it comes to seafood, Tsukiji Fish Market is where you want to be! Look out for Ikayaki stalls around the Outer Market area.
Send noods 🍜 📷: @fromwhere1eat
These stir-fried noodles are a popular childhood classic in Japan and an essential part of any Tokyo food guide. Egg noodles tossed in with fresh cabbage, bean sprouts, carrots, (and just about any other add-ins you’d like), stir fried with a generous splash of Worcestershire-based sauce.
Typical Price: ¥350 – ¥700
Get it from: Apetaito and Mikasa are two popular yakisoba restaurants for an amazing fix of Japanese street food.
Finger lickin’ chickin’ 📷: @lestercarefree
Japan has mastered the art of perfectly fried chicken. Marinated in sake, soy sauce, garlic and mirin, these tasty bite-sized morsels are deep fried with a light coating of corn starch for that extra crispy goodness. It’s really cluckin’ good!
Typical Price: ¥300 – ¥400
Get it from: Karaage can be found at various stalls, and particularly at Izakayas. The super hip Kin-No-Torikara is worth a visit for their chicken fries alone!
16. Fresh Potato Chips
Potato chips never looked so good! 😍 📷: @food_obsession89
You’ve probably seen these chips on the shelves of your local Asian supermarket, but over here in Harajuku, these signature crinkle cut potato chips are made in-store, fresh on the spot. Served straight out of the fryer, seasoned and topped with dreamy drizzles, these chips are a thing of beauty. We recommend the milk chocolate… or cheese… or Hokkaido milk soft serve… or why not try all three?!
Typical Price: ¥230 – ¥410
Get it from: The Calbee Plus store.
Nom nom nom nom 📷 @eiji_0108
Think of onigiri as sushi’s bigger, more voluminous cousin. This iconic Tokyo food usually comes in triangular form. It’s a simple creation, made using a thin layer of crisp seaweed wrapped around a tightly-packed mouthful of rice, often with a savoury filling on the inside. Cheap and easy to handle, it’s the ideal Tokyo street food for the hungry traveller to grab while on the go – especially if you’re running late for the train!
Typical Price: ¥100 – ¥250
Get it from: You’ll find onigiri shops inside railway stations and convenience stores around the city.
18. Daigaku Imo
This counts as one of your 5-a-day, right?! 📷: @_oimo3
Who knew deep frying and sugar coating sweet potatoes could be so, so good? Sweet potatoes are one of the best Tokyo street food options as they are, but daigaku imo take this delight a little further! Chopped into chunks, deep fried, and glazed with a beautiful concoction of caramelized sugar or honey, this snack sports a beautifully shiny and smooth, crunchy outer shell, with a soft, cloud-like, fluffy interior. Served piping hot with a sprinkle of black sesame seeds, it’s cheap, nutritious(ish) and utterly irresistible!
Typical Price: ¥700 for 400g
Get it from: Chibaya in the residential neighbourhood of Asakusa.
I want to dive in! 📷: @relumo112
Oden is the best comfort food and the perfect antidote to those cold wintry nights in Tokyo. Oden refers to a wide assortment of stewed ingredients, from fish cakes to tofu, from meat to vegetables, cooked in a rich, flavorful dashi-based broth. And the best part? Oden is custom-ordered so you get to pick and choose exactly what you want. Prepare to be incredibly warm and incredibly satisfied!
Typical Price: ¥100 – ¥300 per item
Get it from: Head to Maruken Suisan for an authentic oden experience.
How many sticks is too many sticks?! 📷: @smijares22
Yakitori is that chicken-on-a-stick fix you know you’ve been craving… probably! Served on skewers, yakitori features both traditional cuts of meat and, erm… not so traditional. Expect everything from chicken breasts to chicken hearts and even chicken butt! Chargrilled to perfection, these flame-kissed skewers are either slathered with tare sauce, a teriyaki-like sweet soy sauce glaze, or dry seasoned. Either way, they’re a Tokyo street food classic and must not be missed!
Typical Price: ¥100 – ¥200 per item
Get it from: Any of the tiny izakayas or roadside stalls in Shinjuku Omoide Yokocho, also known as Memory Lane.
About the author:
Inga is a food-obsessed globetrotter on budget who spent 4 months eating her way around Tokyo. Check out her instagram here @ofnomsandmore