It’s no secret that Tokyo is a haven for any foodies who crave top-quality ingredients and skillfully crafted dishes from master chefs. One way they can be sure what they ordered is the best is when they see that one or more Michelin stars have been awarded to the restaurant. In 2019, Japan held more Michelin stars than anywhere else in the world. However, this mark of prestige can also result in a large bill. In Tokyo, it’s still possible to get top-rated cuisine at a reasonable price. Here are some affordable Michelin-starred restaurants in the city that you should try.
Tim Ho Wan
This famous dim-sum restaurant was started by Chef Mak Kwai Pui and Chef Leung Fai Keung, with the former already having earned three Michelin stars at the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong before he had even launched Tim Ho Wan. It opened in 2009, with classic dim-sum menu items at prices around ¥600–800. In its first year of opening, the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star, and it became known as one of the most reasonably priced places on the Michelin guide. Additional locations can be found in Hibiya and Shinjuku.
Shinjuku Kappo Nakajima
For lunch, try Shinjuku Kappo Nakajima for a masterful teishoku set with sardines being the key ingredient. This is accompanied by rice, miso soup, and pickled vegetables. The quality and cost performance make this a favorite among critics and those who simply want an affordable lunch, which can be had for ¥880. Located in Shinjuku 3-chome, it is also relatively accessible within Tokyo.
Located in both the Yoyogi and Setagaya areas, this restaurant specializes in beautiful boiled gyoza and offers a relaxed atmosphere. Although a critically acclaimed restaurant recognized by the foremost guide to dining in the world, it wouldn’t be strange to see a mother take her child here to eat. With a lunch just over ¥1,000 that includes four types of gyoza, soup, and a rice dish, this homey spot is hard to beat.
Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta
If you are seeking pure Japanese flavors, Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta is a great choice. This ramen and soba shop was the first ramen restaurant in the world to earn a Michelin star. Their simple shoyu-flavored soba costs only ¥1,080. The fact that what may seem like such a simple food has been elevated to the global level is a testament to its quality. Head to Yoyogi-uehara to try it for yourself.
This pork cutlet restaurant is a must-visit destination for any meat lover. Using slow-cooked Okinawan pork that is fried in a light blend of corn and sesame oils, the resulting texture and juiciness of this tonkatsu is what earned it its spot on the Michelin guide. Lunch is again the hero at ¥1,250 for what will undoubtedly be a fulfilling meal. Head to this shop in Kanda Ogawa-cho with a friend, so that you can try out various items on the menu.
Onigiri Asakusa Yadoroku
This is the oldest onigiri, or rice ball, shop in Tokyo. Opened in 1954 behind Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, it is now managed by third-generation owner Yosuke Miura. There are only two main items on the menu—onigiri and miso soup. However, there is a large variety of fillings. Items on the menu range from about ¥200 to ¥500, despite everything being handmade. Onigiri Asakusa Yadoroku is a place where you can come in, chat with Yosuke, and be served the best example of one of Japan’s favorite foods at a great price.
If your mouth is watering after reading this, take it as your sign to grab a friend or family member and treat them to a Michelin-starred meal. Generally, if you stop by at lunch, you will get the best price, but the à la carte menu should be fairly affordable. Calling or arriving ahead of other customers may be a challenge, so try to plan ahead whenever possible. If you do manage to secure a seat at any of these restaurants, you are sure to be in for one of the best meals of your life.