Japanese people love eating (who doesn’t?) and while you’re traveling in Tokyo, we strongly recommend that you try their all you can eat buffet restaurants or what people fondly call tabehoudai. Tabehoudai, a word that came from taberu (“to eat”) and houdai (“as much as one likes”), is basically a buffet where you pay in one price and eat everything on the menu. Most people say it’s more affordable this way because you get to taste everything from the menu. Tabehoudai is also referred to as Viking, a loan word that came from Sweden after the restaurant manager of Tokyo Imperial Hotel went abroad, found about buffet style restaurants and took it home to Japan.
Many tabehoudai restaurants in Japan serve Western-style food such as pasta, pizza, and the likes. However, you can also find restaurants which serve authentic Japanese dishes like tempura, gyoza, sushi, etc. What’s interesting about the concept of tabehoudai is that it doesn’t limit what kind of dishes they will serve. You can find a restaurant that serves all you can eat desserts where you will find yourself piling up your plate with cupcakes and macarons or a restaurant that serves everything skewers and appetizers. Some restaurants also have a time limit, usually, between 1 to 3 hours or they set a time of the day like buffet time during lunch, snacks, or dinner. There’s also nomihoudai, the counterpart of tabehoudai where you get to drink everything and enjoy them over skewers. Although tabehoudai and nomihoudai is both an all-you-can concept, it doesn’t change the fact that Japanese people respect the idea of not bingeing and leaving leftovers on their plates because it’s considered rude and unethical (called mottanai or the sense of regret when one wasted something).
While the majority of these all you can eat buffet restaurants focuses on serving traditional dishes like sushi and yakiniku, there are also other places which serve all Japanese food. Below are some of the best places for all you can eat in Tokyo:
Sukiyaki and shabu-shabu are one of those dishes usually served during winter to keep your hands, ears and of course your tummy warm during the cold weather but in this buffet restaurant, you can have it any time of the day. While quality black beef is expensive in the market, here in Ganryujima, you will be able to taste some of the best slices of black beef at a very reasonable price. Serve it up with vegetables fresh from the farm and you’ll know why a lot of people like it here. Located in Pacific Ginza building 5F, 7-2-20, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo,104-0061.
- Daichi no Okurimono Ueno Shop
Popular for having one of the healthiest menus in town, Daichi no Okurimono Ueno Shop is the place where you will find scrumptious dishes ranging from the traditional to creative ones and what’s unique about this restaurant is that they only use organic ingredients to their dishes. People can choose from what their hearts desire from the salad bar with fresh vegetables and fruits, dessert bar which serves soft serve ice cream and cakes, and various types of drinks ranging from tea to brandy. Located in 4F Ueno Black Gate, Okubetsuteinai, 1-20-11, Ueno, Taitou-ku, Tokyo.
- Amusement & Sports Bar M-SPO
Craving for some freshly baked pizza and delicious salad to balance the meal or maybe some free-flowing drinks to pair with your desserts? Then this buffet restaurant is for you. It’s mostly crowded during lunch with their popular menu boasting of delicious goodness that will surely make your mouth water even just by reading it. The best part is that there is no restriction here so you can spend longer times munching on your salad or digging into your cake. When you visit here, make sure to get the pizzas which are baked in a genuine stone oven. Located in 2F, 12-3 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo.
- Spicy Spicy
If Korean food is your thing, then Spicy Spicy is the place to go. It lives up to its name where they offer a wide range menu of well-loved spicy Korean dishes like the ever popular bulgogi, chapchae, jeon, and bibimbap. Pile up your plate with these and have yourself some free-flowing soda drinks. They over a budget buffet lunch every weekend so might want to go here as early as possible since people line up fast. Located in Shibuya 8F, 12-9, Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo.
- Sandog Inn
This isn’t your typical bakery because they offer a one of a kind buffet every lunchtime and keeps up to the latest trends there is when it comes to food. Established in 1918, Sandog Inn uses the freshest seasonal fruits for their breads and offer katsu sandwiches, pastries, and other baked goods. Aside from that, they also have a wide selection of soups and drinks like sodas, coffee, and tea. Located in B1F, 2-1 Yaesu, Chuo-ku, Tokyo.
- DinaGyang Dos
What’s great aout DinaGyang Dos is that they change their menu daily so everyday’s a surprise for those people looking for buffet restaurants. Everything is carefully selected from seasonal to traditional ingredients and the menu stretches from offering Japanese and Western-style dishes. So you can have your tempura and miso soup with risotto or yakitori and okonomiyaki with your pasta, strange combinations that most people find really interesting. Salad and desserts are also offered here. Located in 2F Shiba-Koen First Building, 3-8-2 Shiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo.
- Numazu-ko Kaisho
Ordering and eating sushi and sashimi can be expensive in restaurants but in this buffet restaurant, give in to mouthwatering fatty goodness found in tuna and other seafood at reasonable prices. There are other types of seafood offered in here like octopus, salmon, and mackerel. Aside from seafood, they also have skewers and customized donburi meals which go well together. Affordable and delicious, this place is to go. Located in B1F Gomi Building, 6-8-4, Ueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo.
- Shuko Chiichi
Who can resist a serving of fried chicken, better yet, a karaage deep fried to its perfection? A classic, score some of this fried goodness in Shuko Chiichi which specializes in serving an all you can eat karaage feast that comes with 12 different dipping sauces. Pair your karaage with sidings like rice, eggs, tofu, and miso soup. Located in 1F Ohashi Building, 3-9-4 Shimbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo.
- Moyan Curry
This special buffet restaurant makes their own curry which includes 23 different types of spices and takes two weeks to make. But that’s the best part because all spices are well blended with the other ingredients and make some of the best, delicious tasting curries in town. There are several types of curries available from beef, pork, and vegetables and when poured over rice, you’re instantly going to be addicted to it because it’s that good. There is also udon, tandoori chicken, and salad on the menu to pair with your curry. Located in 1-7-5 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo.
- Bittersweets Buffet
Give in to the sweet temptation that is dessert. In Bittersweets Buffet, you’ll find yourself in a wonderland of dessert ranging from cakes, cupcakes, macarons, and soft-serve ice cream. You’ll also find cold desserts such as trifle. Pair it with free-flowing drinks like coffee or tea and you’re good to go. Though dessert is the main attraction to this buffet, they also offer savory dishes to cut through the sweetness. Located in 160-0022 Tokyo, Shinjuku, 3 Chome−38−1.
She’s cooking and baking for her family and friends. She finds grocery shopping therapeutic, always takes the longest time in the Asian section and debates with herself whether she needs that extra pack of instant ramen. A lover of sweets, she dreams of owning a patisserie and publishing her book but most of the time, she’s just really thinking of what to eat for breakfast the next day.