Solo-Mid-Price Options for Tokyo and Kyoto
I am travelling to Tokyo (2 nights) and Kyoto (5 nights) next week on my own. I am primarily going to photograph the autumn colours but as I am a real foodie I wonder if anyone has suggestions for solo dining. Also I don't particularly want to break the bank so my budget will be up to USD 30 for lunch and maybe USD 50 for dinner. I may have one splurge if I find a suitable place... So what I am looking for are the budget-mid price gems that locals and maybe ex-pats have made popular... I don't speak Japanese so ideally places that have English menus/staff...
The list of foods on my to-try are:
Not sure if all of the above are suitable for lone diners (eg, Shabu-Shabu is probably more a communal experience)
Any advice appreciated!
This type of query comes up a few times a month it seems. You should use the search function for each item rather than ask for the holy grail of Japan threads. The foods you list are among most popular with foreigner tourists, so they've been covered a lot. Tokyo is an immense city, so you should try and get an idea of where you are staying relative to the restaurants you come across. Also, I would recommend doing some basic web research on food in Kyoto. That city is not particularly known for any of the specific items you mentioned- although there will be decent restaurants for them.
Japan is great for solo dining, though if you're a real foodie, you should probably dial down your expectations for English menu/staff. That requirement would eliminate about 99.9% of the restaurants in Japan- especially in your price range.
Kyoto is the home of Katsukura, some of the better tonkatsu from a chain restaurant--now a huge chain, but 15 years ago was quite local. In terms of settings, the one in Kobe Mint is much nicer than any of the Kyoto ones, but my favourite Kyoto branch is near Daimaru. I used to go there a lot when I lived in Kyoto (I think that particular one opened in '94?).
Katsukura does have English menus, though I don't know if all the branches do (I assume so, but can't guarantee it).