10 Tokyo restaurants with great sushi under $50

The very best Tokyo sushi restaurants are incredibly expensive - typically charging between ¥20,000 and ¥35,000 (about $200 to $350 US) per person for a full omakase experience. But that doesn't mean that you can't find very tasty sushi in Tokyo at more reasonable prices. Even if you are on a tight budget, you don't have to settle for crappy kaiten-zushi (conveyor belt sushi) shops or large chains like Zanmai, nor do you have to wait in line for hours at decent, but incredibly overhyped Tsukiji shops.  Below is a list (in no particular order) of ten Tokyo sushi restaurants where you can grab a great lunch for ¥5,000 (±$50) or less. Sure, these cheaper offerings typically comprise of "nigiri-only sets" (no expensive otsumami, or appetizers, are offered) and won't feature the priciest ingredients like o-toro or uni, but you'll be able to indulge in great sushi without breaking the bank.

Of course, there are hundreds of restaurants in Tokyo that offer good sushi at reasonable prices, but the list below is a good start. I have included the Tabelog link for each restaurant, where you'll find addresses, phone numbers, hours of operation, et cetera. Enjoy, and if you make it to any of these shops (or have any questions) please leave a comment below.  

1. Sushi Suzuki

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This rather fancy Ginza restaurant is maned by Takao Suzuki, a young but extremely talented chef. Suzuki’s sushi is classic and straightforward in style: the pieces are big and well-proportioned, and the amount of shari (rice) to tane (topping) is perfect. The rice has a good piquancy to it, and the ingredients are high in quality. Prices can reach ¥30,000 per person at dinner, but a 10 piece nigiri set is offered at lunch on weekdays for only ¥5,000. You can read my full review of this great shop here. Reservations are required, but can sometimes be obtained same-day. (Tabelog

2. Bentenyama Miyako Sushi

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I absolutely adore this shop. Located in the no-frills, blue-collar neighborhood of Asakusa, Bentenyama Miyako serves up delicious, uber traditional Edomae-zushi. Seventy four year old chef Tadashi Uchida-san is friendly and has an encyclopedic knowledge of sushi. Did I already mention the sushi is delicious? A must-visit for anyone interested in trying classic Edomae sushi. Nigiri sets start at a ridiculously low¥2,200. Reservations are not required but they are recommended to avoid disappointment.   (Tabelog)

3. Kyubey

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Kyubey holds a special place in my heart as the first high-end Tokyo sushi shop I ever visited. The shop’s atmosphere is pretty unique. It is much larger than the typical Ginza sushiya, so its a bit louder and more boisterous. And the sushi, while not the very best in Tokyo, is still damn good. The chefs are highly skilled (many top sushi chefs apprenticed at Kyubey at some point), the food is delicious, and the service impeccable. It's still one of my top recommendations for those looking for a first Tokyo sushi experience, or for anyone looking for a great, affordable lunch in Ginza. Nigiri lunch sets start at¥4,000. My full review is here. Walk-ins are allowed at lunch, but I would recommend calling a few days ahead to reserve, if possible. (Tabelog)

4. Sushi Iwa

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Ginza Iwa is one of my favorite lunch spots. I have visited four times now, and it is always delicious. I recommend it as a great "first time visitor to Tokyo" experience, along with Kyubey. If I had to describe chef Hisayoshi Iwa's sushi in one word, it would be "balanced" - seasonal ingredients prepared skillfully, paired with delicious sushi rice to form a whole that is tasty, refreshing, addictive. I'm getting hungry thinking about it. Iwa's cheapest lunch set will set you back a mere ¥5,000 for ten mouthwatering pieces. My full review of Iwa can be found here.  Reservations are required, I would recommend booking 2 or 3 weeks ahead. (Tabelog)

5. Seamon

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Seamon is not considered one of the very top purveyors of sushi in Tokyo, but they serve reasonably good quality sushi at great prices. Both locations (in Ginza and Nihonbashi) are a little bit bigger than your typical sushiya, with nearly 20 seats at the large counters. The atmosphere is relaxed and tourist-friendly and some English is spoken. The¥3,800 lunch set offers 3 otsumami (small plates), 9 pieces of nigiri, a miso soup and dessert - a really great value.  Reservations are recommended, and can usually be secured on the same day. (Ginza Tabelog / Nihonbashi Tabelog) (photo credit: Tripadvisor.com)

6. Yoshino Sushi Honten

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Yoshino Sushi Honten is an old-school shop located in a nondescript part of Nihonbashi. The vibe inside the restaurant is distinctively working class – this is not a fancy Ginza sushiya but rather a neighborhood sort of joint. The cheapest nigiri set consists of 8 pieces of nigiri (pictured above) and one hosomaki for a very affordable ¥2,200. I am amazed by the high level of quality Yoshino is able to deliver at such low prices. The food is so much better than most other sushi options at that price point, including chains like Sushi Zanmai, Umegaoka Sushi No Midori, and the like. Anyone looking for affordable, great tasting sushi should put lunch at Yoshino Sushi Honten high on their list. Walk-ins are fine at lunch but note that not much English is spoken. My full review is available here. (Tabelog)

7. Sushi Taichi

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Chef Taichi Ishikawa-san has been operating this L-shaped, nine seat counter in Ginza since 2008, and has gained a very loyal local following. His sushi is fairly classic in style: pieces are on the larger side, shari (sushi rice) is seasoned with akazu (sake lees vinegar) and sea salt, and neta is of very high quality, with an emphasis on seasonality. OK, so the cheapest lunch set here is priced at¥5,400 - but Taichi-san's sushi is too good not to include on this list. Trust me, you'll be happy you ponied up the extra four bucks. Do note that reservations are absolutely required. The chef asks that those who do not speak Japanese be accompanied by a Japanese speaker, if possible. My full review of this great restaurant can be found here. (Tabelog)

8. Kizushi

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Another old-school shop in a working class neighborhood, this time we have Kizushi in Ningyocho. With 3rd generation sushi chef Ryuichi Yui-san at the helm, the chefs at this restaurant firmly adhere to traditional Edomae style preparation techniques. The shari (sushi rice) is really good: strongly seasoned with komezu, a little salty, and quite sour. A ten piece nigiri set is available at lunch for a mere ¥3,000 - a fantastic value. My full review can be found here.  Walk-ins are probably OK at lunch, but I personally wouldn't risk it, I'd recommend calling to reserve a few days ahead. (Tabelog)

9. Sushi Tokami

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If you love tuna, Sushi Tokami is the place for you. Owned by a famous Tsukiji tuna wholesaler, the shop is known for offering some of the very best hon-maguro available. Head chef Sato-san recently left, but I'm confident that the highly qualified new chef, Oda-san (pictured above, at center) will maintain the high level of quality that Tokami is known for. Those on a budget should order the ten piece lunch set for¥5,000 - it features some of that amazing tuna. My full review of Tokami is here. Reservations are absolutely required and should be made a month or more in advance. (Tabelog)

10. Sukiyabashi Jiro at Nihonbashi Takashimaya

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Can't afford to pay over $300 per person at Ginza's legendary Sukiyabashi Jiro (of "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" fame), or to pay $200+ per person to eat at the son's shop in Roppongi? No problem - the Sushi Geek's got your back! Very few tourists know about the much more affordable branch of Sukiyabashi Jiro located on the 4th floor of the Takashiyama department store in Nihonbashi. Nigiri sets begin at ¥3,000 ($30), the one pictured above is priced at a reasonable ¥4,320. Is this place as good as Jiro's main restaurant? Not even close. But the sushi is decent and the price is right... And after visiting, you can say you've had lunch at Jiro! Walk-ins are fine, although there can be a wait. (Tabelog) (photo credit: 盛岡はらぺこ日記)