In Japan, tabehoudai 食べ放題 is a type of meal plan which allows diners to eat to their hearts’ content at a fixed price. Similarly, there is also nomihoudai 飲み放題 which allows customers to drink, usually alcohol such as beer, sake, shochu, and so on, as much as they want.
There are numerous places offering all-you-can-eat deals across the country, and the variety is endless, from desserts to yakiniku to sushi to pizza. For visitors, this can be a good dining option because you get to fill up on scrumptious specialty foods without being shocked by the bill you need to pay at the end.
Specifically, there are some rarer tabehoudai deals which offer not just value for money grub but some interesting dining experience too. In this article, I will introduce 10 unusual but no less delicious all-you-can-eat courses in Tokyo. Check out the list below, would you be interested in trying one (or two!) of them while in the capital?
Before we start, here are some general rules to take note when dining at an all-you-can-eat place. While the rules may vary from one place to another, some knowledge can help you enjoy your food more and prevent disappointment.
- Some all-you-can-eat deals require advance reservation.
- Time limits ranging from 60 to 120 minutes are common for such deals.
- Unlike a buffet where you help yourself with the food placed in a public area, all-you-can-eat courses often involve ordering items from a designated tabehoudai menu.
- At some restaurants, last orders will be imposed usually 30 minutes before your time limit is up, so don’t wait until the very last to order your favourites!
Image: humahuma1122 on Instagram.
Available at natto specialty store Sendaiya during lunch hours, the all-you-can-eat natto course (790 yen) is actually a set meal that comes with rice, miso soup, side dish, pickle, and as many servings of natto as you want. There are eight kinds of natto to choose from – sesame, wakame, edamame, and so on. Besides all-you-can-eat natto lunch set, the shop also has other menu items featuring natto such as natto bibimbab and natto udon.
Various natto-related products are also sold here, including the popular natto doughnuts and a selection of natto crackers. There is even a natto vending machine outside the store dispensing natto products 24/7 – something you don’t see often in Tokyo!
Natto Kobo Sendaiya 納豆工房せんだい屋
Hours: 11 AM – 7 PM (lunch 11 AM – 3 PM)
Access: 4 minute walk from the West Exit of Ikejiri Ohashi Station 池尻大橋 on the Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line 東急田園都市線.
Image: benkei_511 on Instagram.
All-you-can-eat mentaiko is the ever popular item at Hakata Motsunabe Yamaya, a restaurant chain owned by a famous mentaiko manufacturer based in Fukuoka. Its actually comes in the form of lunch set (1,100 yen) with free flow of mentaiko, rice, and takana (pickled vegetables), along with your choice of main dish: karaage (fried chicken), buta shogayaki (ginger pork), chikuzenni (simmered chicken and vegetables) or today’s special.
The restaurant has many locations across the country. But note the lunch deal is offered seven days a week at some shops, while at some other shops it is available from Monday to Friday only, you can refer to their website for more info.
Hakata Motsunabe Yamaya Marunouchi Store 博多もつ鍋やまや 丸の内店
Hours: 11 AM – 2 PM (lunch), 5 PM – 11 PM (dinner)
Access: Direct access from Tokyo Metro Otemachi Station, or a 4 minute walk from JR Tokyo Station Marunouchi North Exit.
Location: B1 floor of Marunouchi Eiraku Building (iiyo!!).
Image: mon_derella on Instagram.
TexMex Factory is a Mexican restaurant known for its Endless Tacos lunch deal where you can have all-you-can-eat tacos with unlimited refills on soft drinks for 1,280 yen. Grab some tortillas then top them any way you like from over 15 fillings and toppings on offer, including beans, vegetables, beef, pork, chicken, salsa, guacamole, cheese, not forgetting also dressing like garlic mayonnaise and tabasco hot sauces to spice things up!
The lunch special is available on weekdays only. Other than all-you-can-eat tacos, the restaurant which is located near the famed Shibuya Scramble Crossing also serves classic Mexican favourites such as burrito, fajita, empanada, and nachos.
TexMex Factory テクスメクスファクトリー
Hours: 11:30 AM – 11 PM (lunch 11:30 AM – 3 PM)
Access: 5 minute walk from JR Shibuya Station.
Location: Haimanten Jinnan Building 2nd floor.
Image: desert_oyster on Instagram.
Desert is an Italian restaurant which prides itself on using locally sourced, quality ingredients from all over japan. Besides mouth-watering a la carte menu and extensive wine list, diners apparently also love the restaurant’s all-you-can-eat oyster course which features fresh oysters harvested in the country’s waters, from Hokkaido in the north to Kyushu in the south.
At 3,980 yen, you can eat as many oysters you want – whether it is raw, steamed, grilled or fried – for 90 minutes. Reservation is needed at least 3 days in advance, and a minimum of 2 persons is required for each booking. While enjoying them raw is the most common way to eat oysters, many customers seem to like the steamed and fried oysters too!
Hours: 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM (lunch), 6 PM – 11:30 PM (dinner), closed on Sundays
Access: 1 minute walk from Tokyo Metro Roppongi Station Exit 2, or a 5 minute walk from Toei Oedo Roppongi Station.
Location: Roppongi 7th Building 2nd floor.
Image: hi_cheesechannnn on Instagram.
Don’t get enough vegetables on vacation? Head to Yasai no Ohsama, a vegetable-themed restaurant in Ginza where its popular lunch buffet is a spread of delicious dishes such as vegetable soup, vegetable tempura, and vegetable curry. Better yet, the course also includes all-you-can-eat vegetables at the restaurant’s salad bar, which displays an array of fresh, seasonal and even some uncommon vegetables.
The lunch buffet is priced at 999 yen on weekdays and 1,280 yen on weekends and public holidays, time limit is 60 minutes. Note that this is not a vegetarian restaurant because they also serve meat and fish dishes, but still considered a vegetarian-friendly place with the salad bar as well as the vegetarian options available.
Yasai no Ohsama Ginza Store やさいの王様 銀座店
Hours: 11 AM – 3 PM (lunch), 5:30 PM – 11 PM (dinner)
Access: 5 minute walk from Tokyo Metro Ginza Station or JR Shinbashi Station.
Location: Ginza Southern Building 7th floor.