Eats under $5 and with no Japanese

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By: truthchild on May 2, 2006 - 9:16pm

So much to say about food in Japan! Here are just the foot notes on some reasonable and easy places to eat:

  • Ticket vending machine restaurants are easy, cheap and great if you're a limited or non-Japanese language speaker. Look at the pictures or fake food in the window, match the characters, press the button, pay the machine and a ticket comes out. Take it to the person at the counter, have a seat, and within minutes (usually not more than 3) your meal has arrived. These diners are scattered everywhere throughout major cities in Japan and target businessmen and commuters who literally inhale their food and are out the door within minutes
  • Similarly there are GREAT gyudon (beef on rice) restaurants.  They cater to the fast pace crowd but you can find a yummy bowl of steaming teriyaki-ish beef on rice for $3. All you need to do is point at the picture in front of the register. No speaking necessary. My recommendation is Yoshinaru (bright orange signs with a bowl with steam coming out of it - EVERYwhere in Tokyo and major cities - $3/bowl and always satisfying.
  • 7-11 (Seben ereben) and any convenience store are also an easy and affordable place to grab food on the go, and much better quality than the states. They have a variety of musubi, sandwhiches, ramen, pasta, salads and pastries everyday. Not to mention all your regular 7-11 stock. Again, absolutely no speaking necessary. This is the perfect place to stock-up for a Shinkansen or long train ride (bentos on trains run pretty steep and aren't quite so tasty). No place to sit down and eat at these stores though, and don't forget eating in public (on the streets, on transportation, in stores, etc., etc.,) is frowned upon unless you're on a long train ride or on a bench in the park. Big metropolitan city with Starbucks popping up everywhere, but rarely do you ever see someone walking with one anywere!) 

By: kaibrown on May 5, 2006 - 12:05am
The food in Japan is SO good!! In 2 weeks, almost every dining experience was exceptionally good. Stacy is right about the convenience stores...we didn't see many 7-11s but we did frequent Lawson's a lot. Good place for riceballs and quick breakfast. More suggestions for cheap eats -- department stores and the area leading out of major train stations. Oh and look for set meal prices. These are usually prominently displayed, are inexpensive, and easy to order. As for being able to order without Japanese...that can be challenging but so many of the restaurants have pictures or plastic displays I was usuallly able to get away with pointing. Sometimes you got something different than you expected but hey, that's part of the experience!
By: sachilefever on May 7, 2006 - 7:32am
Thanks Stace! We're getting 7-11 for the shinkansen tomorrow morning and we tried a vending machine place in Shibuya for gyoza. It's so easy...We're also going all the way to Kumamoto - we think - so we're taking a couple of extra musubis. I think they're called onigiri here though. Throws us for a little bit of a loop when we're thinking of sashimi on rice. Lee has been impressing the restauranteurs as well with his "gochisoosama deshita!" and "-anything- onegaishimasu." Not bad for learning on the plane ride.