Hidden Tokyo: Cheap Eats

Hidden Tokyo: Cheap Eats

I can’t recall how many times I’ve stepped foot onto the platform of Shibuya Station. Nor can I recall how many bowls of ramen I’ve smashed during my 2-3 years of living in Tokyo and Japan. What I can tell you is that Tokyo is bustling. Bustling in its quirks, its people, its systems, its neon lights, its signage. Underneath the layers of bustling, out the back door and into the hidden pockets are the quirky hidden gems that construct this guide. It’s called Hidden Tokyo. This post on Hidden Tokyo is one of four travel posts about Tokyo. Refer to Hidden Tokyo: Cheap Eats, Coffee, Sightseeing and Nightlife as I continue writing them on purposize.

Tokyo Sushi

Sushi been done right.

Hidden under the surfaces of the metropolis are the best-hidden gems. I’m talking about community pockets, cultural festivals and serene little tea houses: contemporary, traditional or even both, somehow fused into the fabric of gargantuan Tokyo. I love it all. I loved living there. It’s such a unique city. And with it, are all the niche hotspots, cafes, cheap eats and cultural experiences that I think are a must-do if you aren’t the conventional type of tourist.

I have compiled a list of my top favourite Hidden Tokyo: Cheap Eats. So, buckle up, book your shinkansen ticket, get out your chopsticks, rub your ramen belly and get ready for Hidden Tokyo.



 1. BUTA DAIGAKU (豚大学)


Tokyo Butadon

Butadon (豚丼) – BBQ Pork Rice Bowl

This place is the bomb. Buta Daigaku is wedged into the wall of a 1970’s concrete building. It’s a tiny, smoky, counter-style 10 seater restaurant. The place is staffed by 3 staff and 1 ticket vending machine and their speciality is only one dish: Marinated BBQ Pork Slices fanned across a bed of rice. Faaar out it’s good!

Avoid the worker’s lunch rush and come for an early or late lunch. You can’t really expect anything in terms of atmosphere or service, cause this place is as legitimate as it gets for salaryman life food. The building is looking to be demolished in 2023 for redevelopment, so get in quick before they might move!


2-16-1 Shinbashi Minato Tokyo  |  東京都 港区 新橋 2-16-1 ニュー新橋ビル

JR Shinbashi Station 1 Minute Walk

Opening Hours:

Mon ~ Fri |  10:30AM ~ 9:45PM

Sat ~ Sun  Lunch 11AM ~ 3PM  |  Dinner 4:30PM ~ 8:15PM


Less than ¥1000




Tokyo Okonomiyaki

Tsukushi Monjya (つくし もんじゃ)

Tucked away in the back streets of Asakusa among the foodie streets is a little okonomiyaki place called Tsukushi. My first experience here was in 2012 and I’ve been back 5 years later to still find the same little old lady running the joint. You’ve probably heard of Okonomiyaki as one of those ‘must-try’ food experiences from travel veterans of Japan. Well you’ve come to the right place because this okonomiyaki is KING. If you’re familiar with Monjya-yaki, or want to try the wild side, order the mochi cheese monjya.

If Tsukushi is too far out of the way, you’ll no doubt find yourself stumbling across Shibuya as you circuit around Tokyo on the Yamanote train line. My runner up pick for Okonomiyaki would be a place called Okonomiyaki Wahaha which has a great selection of Okonomiyaki and Monjya-yaki for a reasonable price.

Tokyo Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is a DIY meal. The ingredients are served in a bowl ready for mixing so you can chef it up on the hotplate yourself.


2-4-13 Asakusa Taito Tokyo  | 東京都 台東区 浅草 2-4-13

Tsukuba Express Asakusa Station 2 Minutes Walk

Tokyo Metro Asakusa Station 7 Minutes Walk

Opening Hours:

Mon ~ Sat | 11AM ~ 11PM

Sun ~ Holidays | 10AM ~ 10PM


¥1000 ~ ¥2000


 3. YATAI RAMEN TAKARYU (屋台らーめん鷹流)


Tokyo Tsukemen

Dipping broth on the left and toppings & noodles on the right. 

5 minutes walk up the hill from Takadanobaba Station (yes you heard me right.. Takadanobaba) is a speciality ramen and tsukemen bar.  It’s a best kept secret and refreshing change from the standard thick pork broth you might expect from Tokyo’s street-style ramen shops. Takaryu specializes in a salty, white chicken broth. If you’re lost for words just ask for “Paichee Men”. After ordering your ticket from a miniature old-school vending machine, you hand your ticket to the chef, sit down and wait to be served up a delicious serve of noodles. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. I personally love the tsukemen here (a dipping style broth with chewier noodles on the side).


4-17-17 Takadanobaba Shinjuku Tokyo | 東京都 新宿区 高田馬場 4-17-17 高田馬場プリンスマンション 1F

Takadanobaba Station 5 Minutes Walk

Opening Hours:

Mon ~ Fri Lunch 11:30AM ~ 2:30PM |  Dinner 6PM ~ 11PM

Sat ~ Sun ~ Holidays Lunch 11:30AM ~ 4PM  |  Dinner 4PM ~ 5PM




4. RAMEN-STYLE KURII (らーめん風来居)


Tokyo Ramen

Salt Base Tonkotsu Ramen

For a place that claims it has the taste of Sapporo style noodles in broth and texture, it hits the right spot pretty hard. I took my partner’s sister here for her very first bowl of authentic Japanese ramen. The response I got after her first sip was: “Holy Shit!” Kurii is a 10-minute walk from Shibuya station, but not that far from Center-gai (which you’re bound to walk down from the crossing). It’s definitely worth checking out. I’d recommend their Tonkotsu broth. English Menus available.


1-29-2 Shoto Shibuya Tokyo  |  東京都 渋谷区 松濤 1-29-2 松濤スクエアビル 1F

JR Shibuya Station 9 Minutes Walk

Keio Inokashira Shibuya Station 6 Minutes Walk

Opening Hours:

Mon ~ Sun 11AM ~ 11PM


Less than¥1000


Lastly, I’ve taken the liberty to compile a map of all of the Hidden Tokyo places I love. You’re welcome to sus it out or create your own copy for when you’re able to adventure through Tokyo. Do you have any recommendations from your experience in Tokyo? Feel free to share below? I’d love to hear about them or possibly add them to a future post.




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