Less expensive dining options?
I'm just starting to plan my trip to Japan in spring 2012. It might be a little early to do a lot of planning, but I'M SO EXCITED! Especially about the food.
I've been looking through the forums and different websites and I feel so overwhelmed. I'm also nervous about budgeting. Most of the restaurants I've read about seem very expensive, and I'd rather eat cheaper and less formally if that means I can go sooner and/or stay longer. The more I look into dining, the more I stress out and worry about having to delay my trip or staying for a shorter period of time.
I would like to be in Tokyo for about a week, and am hoping to be able to spend a couple days in Osaka as well. Any suggestions for eating somewhat frugally while still having some of the best food of my life?
You should be able to eat very well in Tokyo on a budget of Y1000 at lunch and Y3000-4000 at dinnertime, and even less if you plan carefully. One suggestion is to eat at specialty restaurants (tonkatsu, tempura, etc.) at lunchtime and reasonably priced izakaya/dining bars in the evening. Department store restaurant floors often have less-expensive branches of well-known restaurants, with reasonable prices.
Here are a couple of recent threads on budget dining, although some of the specific recommendations may be out of date a year from now.