All you can eat and drink options, are a common sight in Japan, especially amongst its dining and drinking scene. In Japanese 食べ放題 (たべほうだい or tabehoudai) means all you can eat, or 飲み放題 (のみほうだい or nomihoudai) means all you can drink. Together it can be written as 食飲放題 (しょくいんほうだい or shokuinhoudai), basically meaning all you can eat and drink.
Surprisingly, a generous number of eateries offer this as a standard package as part of their drinks menu. Here we list some of the common options you can find in Tokyo’s main districts and the cities if Japan:
牛角 (ぎゅうかく or Gyukaku) means horns of the bull in Japanese. Its name is appropriate too, as it is also full of many kinds of beef too. The actual restaurant is a fairly common sight, not only in the main districts of Tokyo but also in major Japanese cities. This kind of meal is considered a social meal, as the whole concept is people sharing a meal around a common grill. The grill could be a more traditional wood charcoal grill, called a 炭火 (すみび or sumibi) in Japanese, or an electric or gas grill.
The experience is actually fun in that you have control of how well you want your meat grilled. It is definitely good for social outings too, having attended many birthday parties or group dinners at one of the many Gyu-Kaku’s across Tokyo. They’re quality and range of meats are great too, and I especially love some of the different marinade options they have. Garlic is one of my personal favourites.
In terms of pricing, it is hard to match Gyu-Kaku’s all you can drink and eat packages. Currently, their most basic price point starts at 4,000 yen for a full 2 hours, although they take last orders at the 90-minute mark. This includes 80 different menu items, including side dishes also. Plus, there are over 50 types of alcoholic beverages also available including beer on tap.
Of course, they have other all you can eat and drink choices, some that include more premium cuts. There are also premium courses available also. Alternatively, you can order everything separately, but with the value of their all-inclusive deals, I would not recommend it.
You can check out the Gyu-Kaku English menu site for further information about their menu items and store locations (in Japanese).
In Japanese, the word 鍋 (なべ or nabe) means hot pot, and can also be used to refer to Japanese hot pot style cooking. The main varieties include Oden, Sukiyaki, Shabu Shabu, Motsunabe and Chankonabe. Nebazou specialises in both Sukiyaki and Shabu Shabu.
Sukiyaki is a nabe dish which is very simple to prepare. The broth is made from basic ingredients that include salt, soy sauce and mirin. Thin slices of meat, vegetables and a variety of other things are dipped and simmered in the soy-based soup. Once cooked, you then dip the cooked meat or vegetables in mixed raw egg before eating.
Shabu Shabu, on the other hand, is a little more complex. The dish is generally prepared using a dashi-based broth. In the broth people will dip everything from beef, pork, chicken, lamb and even lobster. People also use many kinds of vegetables like carrots, shiitake mushrooms, Chinese cabbage and tofu. Dipping sauces generally include ponzu, a citrus-based sauce and a sesame based sauce.
Pricing actually can change depending on the restaurant, but generally tends to be good value. For Asakusa, my regular nabezou visit, all you can eat shabu shabu or suyikayi courses start at 2,600 yen per person. All you can drink starts at 400 yen for soft-drinks only, and 1500 yen including alcohol. All courses last 100 minutes in total. They also have lunch specials starting at 1,800 yen per person for all you can eat package.
For your closest location, you can check out their restaurant search via their website.
The Japanese izakaya is a casual drinking outlets, that also provide cheap food options. They have been compared to western style pubs or bars, but with the inclusion of food are very similar to a bistro. The word also entered the English realm of vocabulary back in the late 1980s. The ‘i’ means to stay, whereas the ‘zakaya’ means alcohol shop or outlet. Together it means stay and drink.
Out of all the izakayas available in Japan, and there are literally millions a few stand out for their all you can drink value packages.
Wara Wara 笑笑
This tends to be the most family-friendly and cheapest entry into the izakaya foray. If you’re lucky enough you can sometimes have access to private rooms that feature a playroom for kids. They also have private karaoke room options too, and karaoke is free. This izakaya has a broad selection of menu options and course choices. They also have the cheapest all you can drink set at 1,200 yen for 2 hours or a premium option including beer for 1,700 yen. This can also be upgraded to 3 hours for those willing and able.
You can check their website (in Japanese only) unfortunately for more info.
Doma Doma 土間土間
This cheap eatery is available in many locations across Tokyo and also Japan’s major cities. You have the large but standard selection of Japanese and western style food choices. Plus, they’re all you can drink packages are pretty good value. At 1,800 yen for 2 hours all you can drink alcohol package that has over 50 items, or 2,100 yen which includes beer and more than 90 options.
Check out their website for further information.
Of course what we have listed above are some of the main chain stores that offer all you can drink menus. There are many other kinds of other bars and eateries which offer this kind of package. This can include sushi bars, okonomiyaki restaurants, yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) and so on. If you have any other recommendations please comment below.
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