Flavorful, juicy, and fresh – this might be the first thing to come to mind if you are a foodie visiting Japan for the first time. It can’t be helped since Japan is home to numerous Asian cuisine featuring fresh seafood, including sushi.
With this in mind, you might be planning on adding those lip-smacking delish sushi in every meal.
Hold your horses!
Before ordering sushi, or any other food including pizza for that matter, better check the price if you can afford it. You never know, sushi might just be more expensive in Japan than anywhere else in the world.12
Cheap or Expensive?
In general, sushi remains affordable in Japan. This is because most of the ingredients used are readily and abundantly available since most are sourced locally.
But you can buy really cheap sushi at supermarkets, grocers, and convenience stores for less than ¥1000 or the ¥10 ones at a shop along a street in Tokyo that is popular for its affordable sushi.
Meanwhile, you can go for mid-grade to high-grade sushi at a casual conveyor belt restaurant or high-end sushi restaurant and expect to pay ¥2,000 which could go as high as ¥55,000.
Better if you are visiting a coastal area because even mid-grade sushi comes in cheap because of the abundance of available seafood used for making sushi.
Factors determining the price of sushi
Japan offers a wide variety of sushi and their prices vary depending on the ingredients used, where you are buying, and the grade or quality of sushi you are eating.
Rice cooked in vinegar is the main ingredient of sushi, and it is a common commodity in Japan.
Cheaper sushi uses more rice than more expensive ones to compensate for the lower price since rice is cheaper than other ingredients like seafood, vegetables, and garnishes.
Cheaper sushi also uses the cheapest locally sourced fish and veggies in the market.
Simple and cheap sushi like maki rolls mostly use yellowtail, salmon, tuna, green pepper, or mushroom, while futomaki uses surimi, cucumber and chives, cream cheese, Japanese eggs that can be eaten raw, and smoked salmon.
Meanwhile, expensive sushi uses premium ingredients and the finest cut of luxury fish and other seafood including red sea bream, pink salmon, abalone, freshwater eel, spiny lobster, matsutake, sea urchin, caviar, and snow crab.
Where you are buying
As mentioned above you can buy sushi for less than ¥600 to ¥1000 at supermarkets and convenience stores. You can even get them from vending machines at really low prices.
On the other hand conveyor belt restaurants and high-end sushi restaurants sell sushi sells at higher prices because of the chef’s mastery level, the restaurant’s reputation, and the amount of time and effort dedicated to making each sushi.
The store’s location also plays a role. Sushi bars and restos in Tokyo serve more expensive sushi, while those in coastal towns are relatively cheaper.
Sushi grade and quality
Fine dining restaurants also present their sushi as the most delectable and awe-inspiring pieces of artwork where everything is graded from ‘ume’ as the most affordable and ‘matsu’ as the most pricey.
Each roll is hand-made, with the chef having to deal with delicate ingredients that need to be assembled with exact precision to highlight sushi in a most appealing and elegant perfection worthy of its price.
Where to eat sushi
When in Japan, having authentic sushi is a must. You can either enjoy sushi on a budget or go crazy and spend a lot on high-grade, expensive sushi.
But which restaurant should you visit to experience the best sushi within your budget?
Don’t worry, in Japan, you can go on a budget without compromising quality.
Here are some sushi joints you should try if you want to have inexpensive yummy sushi.
Uogashi Nihon-ichi Shibuya Dogenzaka
This standing sushi bar is located in Dogenzaka Shibuya-ku Tokyo and offers excellent sushi prepared by wonderful chefs at an affordable price of ¥110 a piece.
Opening hours: M-F 11 AM – 11 PM, Sat 11 AM – 10 PM, Sun 11 AM – 9.30 PM
Kura Sushi Harajuku
Kura Sushi Harajuku is situated in YM Square Harajuku 4F, 4-31-10 Jingumae, Shibuya Tokyo across the Laforet shopping mall, this eclectic conveyor-belt sushi store is not just about taste but also a lot about style.
Not only do they offer traditional sushi, but they also serve Western-style rolls, crepes, ice cream, and parfaits.
Sushi is generally at ¥110 – ¥220 a piece.
Opening hours: 11 AM – 11 PM daily
If you are around Roppongi, Minato this sushi store is for you. The resto gives off a traditional Japanese vibe. You can easily grab sushi plates right off the conveyor belt and start munching on delectable sushi to your heart’s content.
What’s more, the menu is also available in English, making it easier for tourists to choose which they want to try out. Ten-piece sushi sets in Pintokona start at ¥1,000.
Opening hours: M-F 11 AM – 3 PM, Sat 5 PM – 11 PM, & Sun 11 AM – 11 PM
If you have space in your tummy and suddenly feel like eating a flavorful bowl of ramen, there are also various bars available where you can try affordable and expensive ramen.