Japan has the most Michelin starred restaurants in the world and we wanted to experience some of them, but without having to fork out for a hefty price tag. A good way to get around this is to go for the lunch menus which are often around a 10th of the price of the dinner menu. Nakajima in Tokyo is a perfect example and offers a cheap lunchtime menu consisting of sardines, with three different cooking methods to choose from.
There is a pretty large queue outside so try and get there early before it opens so you can get in the first seating. We got there just before 11.30am and got a seat without a problem. The decor is old school Japanese, where you either sit at the bar or get seated around a table that you share with others.
Like most places in Japan, Nakajima served complimentary green tea.
Nakajima’s lunch menu offers variations of sardines, either fried, sashimi or steamed, and come in a set meal with rice, miso soup, and pickles for 800¥. Sardines are one of our favourite fish and we love it grilled simply on the BBQ like they do in Portugal, so we were really excited to taste the Japanese style.
We shared the fried and sashimi sets. I think this is the perfect combination because you get to have the fatty fried fish which was wonderfully crisp with the distinct fishy sardine flavour. But this could have been too heavy on its own, so it was nice to dip between this and the sashimi, which was fresh and zingy when you ate it with the accompanying ginger and lemon.
For the low price, you are getting an extremely high-quality meal. It may not be the biggest of portions, but it’s definitely quality over quantity and this way you have room to try the many other dishes Japan has to offer.
Looking for more cheap Michelin Starred restaurants to try? Check out our review of Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle hawker stalk – where you can get a meal for $2!