It’s often said that eating well in Japan will break the bank. You’ll blow your budget out of the water, and have nothing left when you return home. You’ll probably need to take out a new mortgage.

But that doesn’t have to be true. As long as you eat local, and occasionally, Michelin for under $3, you’ll be fine.

Okay, Michelin food in Japan for under $3? Fine, more often like $12, but the $3 one does exist.

Misconceptions about eating out in Japan

Many visitors perceive Japan to be a land of unlimited good eating…And that’s mostly true. We’ve heard that you could eat every meal at a restaurant in Tokyo alone for your whole life, and still not manage to eat at all of them. That’s not too hard to believe for the world’s most intense megalopolis, in a country that has a cuisine that literally holds UNESCO World Heritage status. Yeah, that’s true. Food is a big deal out here, so get ready. You’ll want to prepare for this.

What’s also known to be true, as of today, is that Tokyo has the most Michelin starred restaurants of any city in the world. It’s the Milky Way of Michelin-star restaurants.

Jiro’s sushi, Shima, Sushi Sugita, whatever it may be – you know the names. They’re out there, and they’re famous. And they’re going to cost you an arm and a leg. And maybe a whole lot of money (~$400) too.

Perhaps this is out of your budget, and you want to keep your limbs intact – but you still want to eat well, right? Michelin…right?

There’s hope!

One of the best bowls of ramen in Japan is found on nearly every street, on nearly every corner…in a quaint, air-conditioned conbini (convenience store). To be specific, a 7/11 conbini. Michelin starred instant ramen. We’re not kidding. Weighing in at a price of ¥290 (~$2.90, rounded up), the Nakiryu Ramen Next is both cheap and convenient. Google a picture of it. Hey, I said I have the information, but I didn’t say I have the pictures.

3 packets, a block of noodles, hot water, and a 3 minute waiting time. That’s all it takes before you’ll be sinking your teeth into those silky noodles and rich broth. Don’t write it off just because it’s cup noodle. If you’ve eaten your way through Japan before, we’ve no doubt that you’ll rank this instant ramen higher than many actual sit-down ramen restaurants. And that’s not to say those restaurants were bad – this cup noodle is literally just that good.

Admittedly, it’s a bit of a shame to come all the way to Japan and have instant noodles ranked as the highlight of your meals. If you’re interested in finding the truly epic restaurants – and they don’t need to be Michelin rated, seriously – then you’re best off by going with a local. They’ve got experience, and they’ve gone through a lot of trial and error. Trust their tastebuds. And trust their wallets – they’re not splurging either.

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