Strapped for Time and Money in Shinjuku? Try These 3 Chain Restaurants

Contrary to popular belief, for all of the top-tier dining experiences Tokyo has to offer, the city is also a heaven for those who wish to dine on a budget. Affordable food that tastes great is often referred to as “B-kyu gurume” (B-grade gourmet food). These quick eats are perfect for travelers on the move with packed itineraries and tight budgets.
What follows are three of my favorite budget chain restaurants. They make the cut due to their value pricing, flavor, and portion sizes. First-time visitors to Tokyo will also appreciate that all of these restaurants often have English-speaking staff or English menus (or both)!
Although these chains can be found throughout Tokyo (and beyond), they are heavily concentrated in Nishi-Shinjuku, nestled among the skyscrapers and easily accessible from the famous hotels in this part of the city. Interestingly, not all of the food on this list is Japanese. If you ever start living like a local, you’ll find that variety is the spice of life, and food is no exception.

2018-12-10   Bars & Restaurants, Tokyo,


Xian

A small Chinese restaurant chain, Xian specializes in toshomen (thick, hand-cut noodles). Each variety of noodles varies in spiciness with tantanmen striking the best balance between spice and flavor. Not into spicy food? Go for the jajamen instead. Whatever you end up ordering at Xian will please both your stomach and your wallet.

A large order of tantanmen will only set you back 880 yen (780 yen for a regular-sized bowl). Extra coriander is free of charge and available upon request.

You’ll find the main restaurant within minutes of Shinjuku Station, on the west side near Yodobashi Camera. Additional restaurants can be found in Ginza, Kanda, and even as far as Yokohama. Keep the following tips in mind if you decide to stop by the Shinjuku location, which is typically the busiest (and liveliest) of them all.
• If lunch is what you are after, be sure to get in before noon (as early as 11:30 a.m.). Xian gets packed with local office workers (myself included), and if you go during the lunch hour rush, it’s a guarantee that you’ll have to spend your precious time waiting in line.
• Even on weekday evenings, Xian fills up easily, a testament to its menu and value. If you are planning to swing by for dinner, make a reservation first.

Thali-ya

Butter chicken curry, keema curry, yogurt and all-you-can eat naan for 930 yen.

One of the unexpected benefits of living in Japan is greater access to cuisine from other Asian countries. Xian is one example, and Thali-ya is yet another.
Indian food is one of the most popular ethnic cuisines in Tokyo, as evidenced by the countless restaurants throughout the city. However, Thali-ya stands above the rest with its buttery hand-made naan and rich, thick curry. Even if you spring for a two-curry set and a premium curry, such as butter chicken, your bill is still going to come in at under 1,000 yen. This is a great deal considering that the price includes all-you-can eat naan. The chain has been expanding over the years and now reaches well beyond Shinjuku. Still, you’ll find the greatest concentration of restaurants in and around the Nishi-Shinjuku skyscraper district.

Ootoya

A teishoku (set meal) from Ootoya. The main dish is a delightful mix of chicken, vegetables and, renkon (lotus root), smothered in a black vinegar sauce. Sides include a salad, zakkokumai (rice mixed with seeds and grains), pickled vegetables, and miso soup.

If you are really craving for reasonably priced, home-style Japanese food, Ootoya is your best bet. Additionally, Ootoya has plenty of healthy options and is a great way to load up on vegetables when recovering from a week-long ramen binge.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised by Ootoya’s varied menu. In a world where most Japanese restaurants specialize (sushi, ramen, yakitori, etc.), Ootoya has everything. Their menu includes pork, fish, beef, and chicken dishes, served in balanced portions with scrumptious vegetables. Additionally, you can swap out your white rice for nutrient-rich zakkokumai. If you are a vegetarian, it’s easy to fashion a custom meal by selecting a handful of appetizing side-dishes.

Once again, as a chain, Ootoya’s reach spans the country (and even the globe). However, you’ll find an especially high concentration of Ootoya restaurants in Nishi-Shinjuku.

Go for it

So the next time you find yourself pressed for time and cash in Shinjuku, give one of these restaurants a try. You’ll find that being a ‘B-kyu gurume’ in Tokyo is an A-grade experience.

For smartphone users, please click the link below to go to the Tadaima Japan website which includes additional location details:

Strapped for Time and Money in Shinjuku? Try These 3 Chain Restaurants

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AUTHOR

Anthony

Anthony

Writer / Translator

Originally from Riverside, California, I've been living, working, and writing in Japan since 2009. Japan has become my second home, and I'm especially fond of Shinjuku, Tokyo. That being said, I also love getting out into the countryside and exploring the entire country. Through Tadaima Japan, I hope to share the wonders of Japan with a wider, international audience. Check out my articles if you enjoy exploring on foot, convenient cafes, and affordable dining.

Information

Address Tokyo, Shinjuku, Sanchome
Hours 4:00 -1:30
Price Fare depends on the distance
Close None
Access JA Saikyo Line; JS Shonan-Shinjuku Line;
JY Yamanote Line; JC Chuo Line (Rapid);
JB Chuo-Sobu Line
Phone 050-2016-1600
Language Japanese
English
Chinese