Get your greed on for a set price – All-you-can-eat restaurants in Japan
Tabehodai – is the Japanese word which basically translates into ‘all you can eat’ and is a good one to learn. It is often accompanied by Nomihodai – ‘all you can drink’, which is an essential word to learn if you ask me!
All you can eat in Japan is in a completely different league to that found in the west. Whilst you can find the enormous buffets offering a variety of cuisines there are also specialty restaurants ranging from all you can eat natto to cookies and ice cream and, my personal favourites, those where you collect your food from a buffet and cook it at your table.
One of the best thing about these restaurants is the price. Upon arrival you are usually asked to select how long you want to want to eat for, this usually ranges from 45 minutes – 120 minutes with a different price depending on which you select. On several previous occasions, with eyes bigger than our bellies, we have selected 120 minutes and usually ended up stuffed and unable to move after an hour whilst fellow Japanese diners seem able to eat constantly for 2 hours and put us to shame!
Here are some of the best we’ve sampled:
This is a hugely popular Osaka-based chain that lets you select your own kushiage skewers to be cooked at your table. Select from a wide variety of meat and vegetables, return to your table, dip in batter and breadcrumbs, cook and then dunk in one of their many sauces. If that doesn’t whet your appetite then they also have unlimited soft drinks, ice cream and a chocolate fountain! There are many of these restaurants in Japan and at ¥2625 per person at dinnertime, with a 90-minute time limit, it’s a real bargain!
Viking Grilled Meat
In Japan, the word for buffet is バイキング (バイキング = baikingu = Viking). And if Korean Barbeque gets you going then Viking Grilled Meat in Ikebukuro is the place for you. The restaurant is all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink soft drinks, or you can pay an additional fee for all-you-can-drink alcohol.
The staff speak very limited English there but this really isn’t an issue. Upon arrival you’re shown to a table with a grill in the middle, the staff switch this on and then it is off for the food!
There are many different meats to choose from including beef, pork and chicken. Sides range from fries, to rice, soup, noodles and many more. There are a number of sauces you can use and when you're full of meat there is ice cream, fruit, a candy floss machine and lots of other desserts to follow.
This international chain seems to be a favourite in Japan with it’s sprawling salad bar, cheesy toast appetitsers and a wide menu to pick from. We visited the Odaiba branch in the evening, we have previously walked past at lunch time and it seems that schools take whole classes of children to eat there!
There are a surprisingly large number of these in Japan and we’d never been to a Shakey’s before (in or outside of Japan) so Ikebukuro’s outlet was our first. For ¥1650 at dinner time you can eat as much pizza as you want/can! There is also the option to add unlimited drinks to this which we were more than happy to take advantage of. The pizzas are really good and they also do dessert pizzas with toppings like nutella and marshmallow!
The only slight drawback we had here was that it was very busy and it was difficult to get the attention of waiting staff to order more drinks to take full advantage of nomihodai!