There are cheaper places to eat in Tokyo, but unlike places like Sukiya and Yoshinoya, Ootoya offers a wide variety of Japanese teishoku (meal sets) that are healthy, cheap and authentic.
At 820yen, the teishoku I ordered was actually one of the more expensive items on the menu. My set had two main components — first, a mini maguro (tuna) donburi which consisted of tender slabs of maguro sashimi mixed with diced red onions, sprinkled with finely sliced negi (spring onions), sesame seeds and nori, splashed with a light, sweet soy sauce and mixed with a healthy glob of wasabi over a bowl of white rice. The second part was cold, fresh soba noodles served in a flat box accompanied with a tsuyu dipping sauce in a beautiful ceramic bowl. To wash it down, I had a steaming hot cup of hojicha which perfectly complemented the meal.
The menu will vary from season to season, but when I went there, there was a wide variety of teishoku. The image of the menu below shows lots of very typical Japanese dishes such as oyako-don, various charcoal grilled fish, maguro-don, chicken and pork cutlets, soba and udon noodles as well as various side dishes. Prices range from about 640 to 830yen. They also have beer for 450yen, wine (take your chances) for 420yen, soft drinks for 150yen and espresso (with a meal set) for 80yen(!).
As you can see, there’s no English on the menu (or the shop sign out front for that matter). If you don’t read Japanese, don’t fret as everything is well illustrated and you can point to what you would like.
Ootoya serves the same menu for both lunch and dinner. As you know from the cheapo golden rule of eating out in Japan, there are a lot more restaurants offering cheap menus at lunch time and much fewer in the evening, so if you’re on a budget, Ootoya is probably a good dinner option.
Akasaka, Kanda, Marunouchi, Shinjuku, Shiodome, Toranomon, Okachimachi.