Boasting a total of 263 Michelin stars across 200 restaurants, Tokyo has firmly held its place as the city with the most Michelin stars, including the most recently released 2023 Michelin Guide. While there’s this vision of Michelin restaurants requiring a fine top hat and your fanciest dress, Tokyo is also home to some of the most affordable Michelin-starred restaurants in the world. Want to try some of the finest foods with that coveted Michelin star rating without blowing your holiday budget? Here is your guide to the most affordable Michelin-starred restaurants in Tokyo that are dishing up delicious steals, starting at only around ¥1,000 for lunch!
3 Most Affordable Michelin-Starred Restaurants in Tokyo
Here are some of Tokyo's most affordable Michelin-starred restaurants for high-quality dining on a budget.
- Tsuta, Sugamo
- Sasuga, Ginza
- Shinjuku Kappo Nakajima, Shinjuku
1. Tsuta, Sugamo
Let us begin with one of Tokyo's most affordable Michelin-starred restaurants: Tsuta in Sugamo. This area has a long shopping street, the “Harajuku for old ladies,” at one of Tokyo’s most northern stations on the JR Yamanote Line. Tsuta is the first ramen restaurant to be bestowed with a Michelin star, and it is both delicious and incredibly budget-friendly. With bowls of ramen starting at ¥1,000, Tsuta's most expensive one is priced moderately, at well under ¥2,000.
Although classified as ramen, the noodles they serve at Tsuta are soba noodles. Tsuta specializes in light and clear but delicious broths of salt (shio), soy sauce (shoyu) and miso ramen. All are served with the finest ingredients sourced from across Japan.
One of the best bowls of ramen you’ll ever taste will likely be Tsuta’s signature flavor, defined by a perfect hint of truffle. The catch is that you have to head there in the morning, from 7am on a weekday or 6:30am on a weekend, to get a ticket for their waitlist. These tickets tell you when to come back and get in line to wait for one of the 150 bowls of ramen they serve per day. Usually, they're sold out by 10am
2. Sasuga, Ginza
Our next affordable Michelin-starred restaurant in Tokyo is Sasuga, a high-class soba restaurant located in Ginza. Their signature dish is a juwari 100% buckwheat noodle, a type of soba made purely made from buckwheat flour and water. This extra high-quality, ultra-fine soba is hand-rolled and cut with precision. For ¥1,000, get a bowl of this exquisite soba, ranging from kakesoba (soba in a bowl of hot soup) to zaru soba (where the noodles are served cold with a separate soup to dip them in).
For about ¥500 extra, you can upgrade to a slightly fancier topping such as the kamonegi soba, which features duck and green onions but with that posh Ginza-esque twist. So simple yet refined, this high-end soba is appropriately located just five minutes away from the glitzy and glamorous Ginza Station.
3. Shinjuku Kappo Nakajima, Shinjuku
Shinjuku Kappo Nakajima in Shinjuku offers one of Tokyo's cheapest Michelin one-star meals, famous for their signature dish: the humble iwashi (sardines). The art of preparing the perfect sardine is a tradition that has been handed down through this family business, now up to the third generation of highly trained chefs.
Starting from ¥800 for a lunch set, you can choose from a variety of ways to have them: Nakajima offers their sardines perfectly deep-fried, simmered in a stock of soy sauce, boiled in a Yanagawa-style nabe, or served straight as sashimi and dipped in a ginger and sesame marinade. The iwashi sardines are freshly sourced from Tokyo’s local fish markets and are cooked to perfection every time; they are a fishy delight any seafood buff could never say no to. A lunch set won’t leave you hungry and off to the konbini to top up afterward, as it includes rice, pickles, miso soup, and tea to wash it down. Shinjuku Kappo Nakajima also specializes in a Japanese soup called owan (meaning “bowl”), typically associated with traditional kaiseki cuisine.
The queue begins well before the restaurant opens at 11:30 and the restaurant is tucked a little way below one of Shinjuku’s many skyscrapers. So, again, be prepared to wait, but Nakajima's unbelievable price and incredible flavors are well worth it. However, Nakajima’s kaiseki dinner menu costs over ¥10,000 per head, so beware.
Not only does Japan offer some of the world’s most interesting and unusual cuisines, but you can also try some high-class Japanese foods on a budget at these affordable Michelin-starred restaurants in Tokyo. Tokyo also has almost as many Bib Gourmand commendations as Michelin restaurants, which is an honorable tip-of-the-hat to restaurants that make moderately priced food at an exceptional standard. You can try these out too for an exquisite meal that also won’t break the bank, or try some multi-Michelin-starred restaurants in Tokyo at a pretty reasonable cost (we are talking, say, a hundred dollars or so per head, as opposed to a few hundred as you’d find in other cities). Regardless, Michelin-starred restaurants in Tokyo are much more accessible than you might think if you're willing to hop on the waitlist.