When it comes to the consumption of raw fish in Tokyo, you’re spoiled for choice. There are plenty of cheap places where you can get your sushi fix. We’re guessing you’re after the “real” experience—sushi that comes rolling by on a conveyor belt, or rocks up on a cute little bullet train or some such thing. Over the years, we’ve compiled a list of favorite (read: best budget) sushi restaurants in Tokyo that check these boxes. Drumroll, please …
1. Ganso Zushi
Arguably the tastiest and cheapest “kaiten” or conveyor belt sushi chain is Ganso Zushi. The shops have no frills, but will give you an authentic experience where you can see everyday Japanese cheapos popping in for a quick sushi dinner. Plates start at 108 yen, tax included.
The branches are located all over Tokyo, so learn to recognize the four Japanese characters of their name – 元祖寿司 (for the curious this translates to something like “original sushi”, or “first sushi”). And be sure to ask for their English menu—all shops should have one, but we’ve seen them being a bit shy about handing it out. As well as choosing things off the conveyor belt, you can also bark your order at the chef in the middle.
2. Genki Sushi
We love Genki Sushi. Don’t let the frowny face fool you, this kaiten sushi restaurant leaves customers with a smile on their face—you can binge on delicious sushi for ultra cheap!
We’ve been to this restaurant in the heart of Shibuya and the suburbs of Ibaraki, and each time we’ve been happy with the quality and price. The salmon is always soft, the rice is the right blend of savory and salty, and their egg omelettes are (in our opinion) some of the best in Japan. Most of the plates cost 108 yen.
Some of the locations have the conveyor belt; others don’t. The places that don’t have a network of lines instead, where they send orders directly to the customers. The plate stops in front of you, you grab your food, and press a button to send the plates back to the kitchen. Other locations have the sushi chefs in the middle, so you can just call out your order.
You can also find this sushi chain in some other countries. Ever seen one outside of Japan?
3. Uogashi Nihon-Ichi
Uogashi Nihon-Ichi is a standing sushi bar with excellent value. While this chain is slightly pricier than the conveyor-belt sushi places on this list, its value is doubly reflected in the quality as you don’t have to “pay” for the costs of having seats.
Uogashi Nihon-Ichi uses lots of seasonal fish and veg, so you can try new tastes throughout the year.
Sushi-Ro is one of the most beloved budget sushi chains in Tokyo, popular among college students and families with young children. With branches all throughout Japan (even in Hokkaido), Sushi-Ro has gotten the practice of getting you in, fed, billed, and out again down to an art. You can either choose your items from the conveyor belt or order from the screen in front of you. They have English, Chinese, and Korean language settings. Most plates cost 108 yen for two pieces of nigiri sushi. They have a couple of “specialty” items that run for a bit more and a delicious assortment of desserts. Basically, Sushi-Ro is a good, “safe”, cheap, and delicious dining option.
5. Sushi Katsura
Unlike many of the sushi spots in this article, Katsura is a stand-alone restaurant. It is located right in Tsukiji Fish Market—so you already know that you’re about to get some quality stuff. It’s a contender for the much coveted (and imaginary) Best Budget Sushi Tokyo award.
A fair word of warning, though, don’t go here for dinner. Your meal will easily be over 5,000 yen! Instead, take advantage of their weekday lunch menu. An ‘ichininmae’ (1 person) set of 9 pieces of nigiri sushi and one maki roll sushi is 950 yen. The 1.5 person set is 1,050 yen. Both are absolutely delicious. The only downside is that the restaurant is a little bit difficult to find, and there is no English menu. If you don’t speak Japanese, try to go with a friend who can, or just remember the 950 yen or 1,050 yen prices and point to them on the menu.
6. Katsu Midori
This place punts itself as the “No. 1 conveyor belt sushi restaurant in Japan” and it’s definitely one of our top choices. There is often a queue snaking right outside the restaurant—but the wait is well worth it. It’s got a reputation for being one of the better quality budget sushi establishments.
Most plates will set you back between 100-200 yen, and that includes not only your standard excellent sushi dishes, but fried chicken, tempura, soups and more. You order on an iPad (don’t worry, there’s an English menu) and the food comes to you in a matter of minutes.
7. Zanmai Sushi
Look no further than Zanmai Sushi for quality and convenience. This sushi bar (sorry, no conveyor belts here!) chain offers fresh, high-quality sushi sets at over 40 branches throughout Tokyo. To keep things cheapo, we recommend the handmade lunch sets which go for 800-1,000 yen and come with soup, salad, and unlimited green tea.
Bonus Fun: Uobei
At 108 yen per plate for decent sushi, Uobei is another great kaiten sushi option. The atmosphere is pleasant, the grub is good, and the staff friendly enough to deal with crazy foreigners (like some of our writers—no names mentioned). Similar to Genki Sushi, at Uobei, you must personally order all your sushi. They don’t have a regular conveyor belt. This method saves money and gets you the freshest food.
But what about that famous sushi guy?
If you’re determined to dine at Sukiyabashi Jiro’s, don’t let us stop you. But you might want to read about these alternatives first. Oh, and take a look at this 10-yen sushi restaurant while you’re at it.
*For more on cheapo eats, our ebook has a complete guide on eating extreeeemely well on a budget (and not just sushi). Also, if you’re feeling a little fancier, we have a bunch of favorite sushi joints that are a little more upmarket, but won’t break the bank.
Pro tip: For a visual guide to the various types of sushi, check out SushiUniversity.