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NOMIHOUDAI: THE BEST PLACES FOR ALL-YOU-CAN-DRINK IN TOKYO

One of the things you will discover in Tokyo is Japanese people's love of drinking. And this isn’t just a casual one-or-two bottles of beers over conversations kind of drinking, but the type with neverending free-flowing alcoholic drinks! We all know that Japanese people love food, and they often like to enjoy dishes like yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) and edamame while drinking sake. After work they'll go out, sharing thoughtful conversations with a friend or co-worker and dealing with the stresses of the day with laughter and free-flowing spirits. And that’s the concept of nomihoudai, the drinking counterpart to tabehoudai, all-you-can-eat.

People are cheering

Nomihoudai plays an integral part in the contemporary culture of Japan. Many working class people in Japan go to izakayas on a daily basis to have a drink or two before calling it a day. It’s their way of relaxing after a hard day of work. While most bars and restaurants with nomihoudai have different prices and menus, the drink menus are almost always the same, offering sake, ice-cold beer, wine, and mixed drinks. Sometimes you’ll spot a free-flowing coffee or tea nomihoudai restaurant, complete with sweet and savory snacks for an afternoon indulgence. As the night deepens, usually bars and izakayas offer discount prices. Nomihoudai is truly a great way to have fun with your colleagues and friends without going broke. It is recommended to come and visit at least one nomihoudai restaurant or bar, and enjoy capping off the night with a toast to great relations, great memories, and a great life. Read on for a list of the best places for all-you-can-drink in Tokyo!

1. Torikizoku

Torikizoku is a chain of izakaya in Japan, famous for extremely low prices and delicious chicken dishes. These izakayas can be found all over Tokyo, just look for the bright yellow sign with red lettering: three stylized kanji (鳥貴族) with “Torikizoku” written underneath. All the dishes and drinks on their menu are only 280 yen each. Of course, they also offer an extremely affordable all-you-can-drink nomihoudai option for those of you who really want to get the most bang for your buck. All-you-can-drink is available for under 1500yen, while you can get nomihoudai and tabehoudai together for under 3000 yen. Locations include Roppongi, Shinjuku Kabukicho, Akasaka.

2. Suzume no Oyodo

This Tokyo restaurant used to be a traditional geisha house, and while it has been refurbished, it still has the charm of a traditional Japanese house. Located in Shibuya, Suzume no Oyodo has a super local atmosphere, and despite being just a stone’s throw away from Shibuya Crossing, it is still a very hidden gem, relatively unknown by tourists. The nomihoudai all-you-can-drink plan is also super affordable, at around 1200 yen. If you’re adventurous, come here and you can cook up your own okonomiyaki, a type of savory Japanese cabbage pancake, on the griddle in front of you while enjoying nomihoudai with friends. The menu also includes monjayaki and teppanyaki, as well as seasonal dishes.

3. Kainomi

Just two minutes away from JR Yotsuya Station, Kainomi is an izakaya that offers a wide-ranging menu and free-flowing spirits for their guests. While their menu is an ever-changing list of delicious dishes, they usually offer seafood to pair with your drink. It is highly recommended to pair shrimp fries, shirako, and shellfish with your sake. You’ll also find sushi, sashimi, and the like. As for the beverages, there are over 100 types of drinks to choose from. Kainomi offers two types of all-you-can-drink deals at very reasonable prices, considering they offer some of the most expensive spirits in town, so you can enjoy yourself without hurting your wallet.

The inside of Kainomi

4. Suisui

Suisui is a popular Japanese izakaya mostly specializing in and serving free-flowing sake drinks. They have over 100 types of sake listed on their menu, from all 47 prefectures of Japan. The owner hand-selects the sake, so you know you’re in good hands when he recommends a drink. You can try a taste of everything and discover on your own what piques your taste buds. Once inside, you will instantly feel the happy vibe and the cozy atmosphere helps to relax your body and mind.

5. Gusto

Coffee junkies, rejoice! This family restaurant offers an extensive menu of coffee that ranges from the typical black coffee to the fancier macchiato and drip coffees, not to mention some unique pairings like hibiscus and rosehip coffee and jasmine and oolong coffee. The fun part of this is that you get to try them all. But of course, because it includes caffeine, it is recommended to take everything slowly and just have a taste of each first, before settling on the coffee beverage you’ll be drinking for the rest of the time. Students often frequent Gusto, as well as teachers and working class people who prefer to power up with coffee. Gusto has locations all over Tokyo, in areas such as Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Meguro.

6. Volks

Now, here’s an interesting nomihoudai restaurant that will surely capture your attention the moment you see it. It’s cheap, it's delicious, it’s free-flowing, and of course, there's ice cold beer waiting for you. The catch? You only have ten minutes to do your ordering and drinking! Though there’s a time limit, there’s really no penalty if you don’t finish your drink, as most guests just pay again to restart the clock. If you aren't in the mood for a glass of beer, you can always opt to order wine or other liquors, at very affordable prices. So if you’re looking for an adrenaline-filled night of pounding drinks, Volks is the place to go. Volks has a few locations all over Tokyo, including Yoyogi and Shimbashi.

Food and drinks that are provided by Volks

7. Kobushi

If the yummy ramen poster outside didn’t get you, then it’s definitely the unlimited beer that will have you walking inside this restaurant. Easy on the eyes with a homey sense of comfort, Kobushi is a ramen restaurant in Tokyo that specializes in a dipping-style of ramen called tsukemen, and if you feel like pairing your ramen with some drinks, order the free-flowing beer. They offer two types of unlimited beer plans to choose from. Once decided, they give you your pint of beer. For a snack, you can't go wrong with their scrumptious karaage, some of the juiciest fried chicken in town! Order up and drink the night away.

8. Restaurant 1899 Ochanomizu 

Drinking matcha green tea is a part of every Japanese person's life and tea ceremony is a longstanding Japanese tradition. But can you really incorporate green tea with alcohol, and make something delicious? Restaurant 1899 Ochanomizu experimented with this unlikely combination, to great success! They offer a wide range of unlimited beer, mixed with Japanese tea. You might be surprised at first at this eyebrow-raising combination, but give it a shot and you’ll find yourself coming back the next time you’re around. Aside from that, they also offer unique dishes like green tea-infused sausages and desserts like cake and ice cream.

food and drink that are provided by ochanomizu

9. Ikkenmesakaba Okachimachi Ameyoko

Ikkenmesakaba Okachimachi Ameyoko is an affordable, hole-in-the-wall Japanese izakaya that is open 24/7. With local clientele, it really feels like authentic Tokyo, though there is an English menu available if you ask. Offering typical Japanese izakaya fare, such as small plates of karaage (fried chicken), gyoza (pan-fried dumplings), katsu (deep-fried cutlet), and french fries, they also have some insanely delicious yakisoba. They serve chu-hai and sours for only 190 yen, or you can go the extra mile and pick nomihoudai all-you-can-drink, and take full advantage of their drink menu!

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Catherine Flores
She’s cooking and baking for her family and friends. She finds grocery shopping therapeutic, always takes the longest time in the Asian section and debates with herself whether she needs that extra pack of instant ramen. A lover of sweets, she dreams of owning a patisserie and publishing her book but most of the time, she’s just really thinking of what to eat for breakfast the next day.
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