‘Zanmai’ is Japanese for indulgence or luxury. While sushi is certainly an indulgence compared to a lot of regular fare, Sushizanmai serves it up at a reasonable price—especially if you follow the Cheapo maxim of ‘posh lunch, cheap dinner’.

The Roppongi branch is under Gas Panic, but don't let that put you off.
The Roppongi branch is under Gas Panic, but don’t let that put you off. | Photo by Gregory Lane

Sushizanmai is a sushi chain with 41 branches in Tokyo and Kanagawa. Just to show this place has real sushi cred, 9 of these branches are located around the head office in Tsukiji—the sushi mecca of Tokyo. While a few of the branches offer the conveyor belt type sushi, most of them are like the Roppongi branch which this cheapo frequented recently—sushi-bar style with the ingredients in display cases with the sushi chef making the sushi by hand behind the counter.

cheap sushi restaurants in tokyo
The ‘ichininmae’ (one person) nigiri sushi lunch set. | Photo by Gregory Lane

The basic one-person lunch set (800 yen) provides you with 8 pieces of sushi, tamagoyaki, makisushi (rolled sushi), a bowl of miso soup, a salad and free refills of green tea. For an extra 200 yen, you can get the 1.5 person set which has 13 pieces including the tamagoyaki.

Suggested Activity
Challenge Sumo Wrestlers and Enjoy Lunch
Eat, train, and fight like a real Japanese sumo wrestler during this sumo demonstration and authentic 'Chanko Nabe' (hotpot) meal.

The sushi was excellent—the rice and fish was extremely fresh—a definite advantage of the sushi bar over conveyor belt variety. The gari (pickled ginger) was also very good—crisp and crunchy. This is one of the places in which a cheap sushi joint will try to save money so that was a nice touch.

The Chirashidon set for 1,000yen.
The Chirashidon set for 1,000 yen. | Photo by Gregory Lane

In addition to the nigiri sushi sets they also a variety of donburi (rice bowl with toppings) including a donburi of the day for 800 yen and about 3 different kinds around the 1,000 yen mark.

Service was prompt and polite although a little awkward as any hesitation with ordering was met with a repeat of the question in English—probably something you’d only come across at the Roppongi branch!

Ask our local experts about Tokyo

Get our Tokyo Cheapo Hacks direct to your inbox

Watch this next