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Dining on a Budget
Tokyo offers an astounding array of top-notch Japanese and international cuisines, but quality comes at a price. However, it's possible to eat well on a budget, and the recent trend for B-kyu gurume ("B-grade Gourmet") is making it even easier. These restaurants forgo the frills and just serve good food for affordable prices. Wallet-friendly establishments such as these can be found across the city. Here are a few of the best.
Kanda Matsuya (¢-$). Udon—thick noodles served chilled in summer and hot in winter—are available everywhere, even convenience stores. Matsuya offers authentic udon in a rustic atmosphere. A simple udon meal costs ¥600, or, for a bit more, get noodles topped with tempura or other goodies. 1-3 Kanda Sudacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 101-0041. 03/3251-1556. No credit cards. Subway: Marunouchi Line, Awajicho Station (Exit A3).
Kanda Yabu Soba (¢-$). Soba—thin noodles made from buckwheat flour and quickly dipped into a hot broth or cold dipping sauce—are the lighter cousin of udon. Because it can be eaten so quickly, soba is often sold at small stands in train stations, where it can be slurped down while waiting to change trains. Kanda Yabu Soba, set in a Japanese garden, offers a place to sit down and savor the dish. A basic soba meal costs just ¥700, but the shun (seasonal meal), which change 10 times a year, are excellent and affordable. 2-10 Kanda Awajicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 101-0041. 03/3251-0287. No credit cards. Subway: JR and Marunouchi lines, Awajicho Station (Exit A3).
Santa. ($) Tonkatsu, breaded, deep-fried pork cutlets, are synonymous with cheap but filling meals. Santa offers some of the best tonkatsu in the city in large portions for affordable prices. 3-33-10 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 160-0022. 03/3351-5861. Subway: Shinjuku Station (East Exit).
Umenoki. ($$) At an izakaya, food and drink are equally important and equally good. Umenoki, in Shibuya, specializes in sashimi, which can be astronomically expensive in award-winning restaurants, but is surprisingly affordable here. You will most likely share one of the long, sunken tables with a number of other diners, which is all part of the experience. 2-11-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-0043. 03/5428-6707. Subway: Shibuya Station (Hachiko Exit).
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