Japan

Where to eat in Tokyo: budget to mid-range sushi

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When it comes to the quality and diversity of food, Tokyo is truly unrivaled. Before you are overwhelmed by the vast choice of restaurants of this mega city, you’d better turn to the tabelog, the crowed-sourced restaurant grading website. You will find yourself enormously relieved in choosing the food of your craving on each occasion.

It works similar to Yelp or Openrice, but what makes tabelog stand out is its sophistication, showing the grading scale up to 1/100, such as 3.68 or 3.94, not a simple 3.5 or 4.0 scale. Unlike inflated Yep or Openrice rating, 3.5 grade on Tabelog is considered very good, with over 4.0 rating exceptional (over 4.5 rating can be once-in-a-lifetime meal).

Below are Sushi restaurants that I’ve tried during my visit to Tokyo last Oct and Dec, 2017 and honestly, I didn’t find any single restaurant that I didn’t like in Tokyo so far. Each and every place shined with its never-compromising quality and service like a 5 star hotel.

1. Namazu Uogashi: Tokyo Station, 1F Kitchen Street, Marunouchi 1-9-1 Chiyoda, Tokyo

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One of my favorite budget sushi restaurants in Tokyo, conveniently located in Tokyo station, a serious food mecca. Various sushi sets which come with a big bowl of crab miso soup and salad were so satisfying that I didn’t even bother to find other high-end sushi restaurants during my stay in Tokyo.

Not just value for money, absolute quality of food in Namazu Uogashi left us almost nothing to be desired. Highly recommend if you want to experience local sushi place with the best bang of the buck.

2. Numazuko: 3 Chome-34-16 Shinjuku, Tokyo

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If you are new to the city and don’t know what to eat in this busy Shinjuku area, why not trying Japan’s quintessential gaiten sushi, aka conveyor belt sushi? If you are traveling with kids, it can be another focal point for entertaining them.

Conveyor-belt sushi is not high-end sushi, but as in most Tokyo’s restaurants, quality is never compromised, while delivering fresh and yummy cut of sushi at an unbelievably reasonable price.

3. Otaru Masazushi: 14F Takashimaya Times Square, 5-24-2 Sendagaya, Shibuya, Tokyo

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Mid-range sushi place in Takashimaya Time Square in Shinjuku, filled with local patrons who enjoy conversations with the master sushi chef. You will easily forget that you are right in the heart of busy Shinjuku area once you step into this restaurant perched on 14F of the fancy department store. Going to spacious underground Depachika (food hall) is an added pleasure if you like to take some sweets home along with you as gift or souvenirs.

4. Manten Sushi: 2 Chome-6-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda. Tokyo

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It is in Manten Sushi where you can taste virtually over 15 different kind of Omakase sushi at about USD 60 so it is no wonder that this place is always bustling with travellers. Good place to go if your appetite is hardly satiable with a regular sushi set and walking around this beautiful Marunouchi area will give you an ample time to digest all the food.

5. Sushi Sei: 4 Chome-13-9 Tsukiji, Chuo, Tokyo

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Good budget sushi restaurant if you are in Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji market area. Surrounded by over 50 sushi restaurants in the vicinity, it is easy to get lost but Sushi Sei did a great job satisfying my Sushi craving in an orderly and cheerful manner.

Next, I will take you to “good to great” non-Japanese restaurants that you will love in Tokyo, so stay tuned.

 

 

Seoul

Sushi Ume(梅)

In terms of food, everything available in Seoul can be found in Hong Kong at comparable or better quality but Japanese food seems not the case. Especially, when taking the price of Omakase into account, it feels like eating Sushi/Sashimi by flying to Seoul could be cheaper, even including plane ticket. As I adore Japanese cuisine, I eat them a lot in Hong Kong, but never miss chances of eating Sushi/Sashimi whenever I am in Seoul.

Dongbu-ichongdong, wealthy residential district filled with unique and fun independent restaurants and shops, also known as “Little Tokyo” in Seoul,  is the perfect place where you can enjoy authentic Sushi/Sashimi Omakase dinner at around 1/3 price of comparable restaurants in HK. Sushi Ume(梅) is the sister restaurant of Sushi Kiku(菊), probably the most famous Japanese restaurant in the area where over 15 Japanese restaurants call home. Sushi Ume costs slightly cheaper, also easier to make a booking than Kiku, it tastes just equally good.

Sushi Ume is not a fancy place where you can impress your date with its down-to-earth and humble ambience. But it is the place where you can truly wind down after your exhausting day over authentic Omakase dinner and a bottle of Sake (they even keep your unfinished bottle of Sake if you are a regular or turn out to be a good(?) patron).

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The best moment came when the chef asked me, “Is there anything that you want to eat  more?” after completing above 18 amazing Sashimi Omakase. Yes, Omakase in Seoul never ends, rather it was me who turned down another deliciously-looking Maki as I can’t digest anymore, cutting short original 20-course dinner. Although there are many fancier high-end Japanese restaurants in Cheongdam-dong or Apgujeong-dong (belonging to Gangnam area), for those who don’t have a deep pocket including myself, Sushi Ume is undeniably a bang for the buck.  With its quality food and cozy ambience in a lovely neighborhood, I will definitely return next time I visit Seoul.

Rating: Taste 4.5/ Ambience 3/ Service 4.5/ Price 3 /Value 5