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Apr 16, 2017

Solo dinner choices in Japan

I wanted to ask everyone what your 'go to' place is for eating dinner on your own in Japan. Recently, I've gotten into the habit of just going to a McDonalds when it comes to eating on my own. This is not out of fear of new experiences, foods, language, or being on my own. It's just a lazy habit I seem to have fallen into. I'm looking for some new ideas, besides cooking at home.

Tomuu

Tomuu

Traveler, surfer, and scribe. Based in Tokyo for six years.

23 Answers



  • Jackson

    on Apr 16

    Personally, ramen shops are my always go-to. Not only there are limitless choices to try, ramen is often better to go enjoy alone than with others.

    2
  • DaveJpn

    on Apr 17

    Saizeriya is usually my go-to place. The one where I live usually has lots of empty tables. It's a cheap and easy option.

    2
  • Jackson

    on Apr 18

    On the other hand, I want to add that any places that runs on a tabehoudai systems are not suitable. For some reason, there's just a strange feeling/stigma to go to all-you-can-eat alone, as much as I'd love to.

    1
  • Tomuu

    on Apr 18

    @Jackson Agreed with the ramen thing. Definitely a solo job, even if you're with other people. Everyone just concentrates on the slurping. Yea, I can't say an all-you-can-eat option is something I'd typically go for on my own, but then again, perhaps a solo situation is the best way to concentrate on getting your money's worth!

    0
  • edthethe

    on Apr 19

    I like going to cafes. When I first came to Japan, during study abroad, eating alone was so terribly daunting! But I often traveled alone, so I learned how to not care. I think as a female it's harder because ramen shops and standing soba places are almost always men. I transitioned into eating alone, by eating at cafes which are often designed for single seating. I've also been known to join the business men during lunch at the local parks eating bento. If you are looking to spend a good chunk of time, places with drink bar are great. Joyfull, Gusto, Royal Host, Flying garden(my favourite!!!) saizeria,...the list goes on.

    2
  • Babina

    on Apr 20

    Cocos is a good place too. I love their quesadilla so I open go there.

    1
  • Jackson

    on Apr 21

    @edthethe I do agree that cafes are good choices. As a guy, I have the opposite issue of going into a cafe alone when there are mostly ladies there (which is not a bad thing :D), but the food options are nice, a good variety of things, affordable, and usually the environment is nice and relaxing too.

    0
  • Tomuu

    on Apr 21

    @edthethe Thanks for the suggestions. 'Flying Garden' is one I haven't heard of. Sounds like an interesting name. Yes, I sometimes go to the cafes, usually the chains (Excelsior, Caffe Veloce), but not really for dinner. With Starbucks I can rarely find a seat!

    0
  • Tomuu

    on Apr 21

    @Babina - Thanks. Cocos! I haven't been there in a while. Maybe it's time to go back.

    0
  • SalarymanJim

    on Apr 21

    Sports bars / pubs are good in the sense that you've got the TV to focus on if you're the kind of person that feels self-conscious about eating alone. They also make it easier to hang around for a while. In other restaurants, if I'm on my own, I tend to wolf down my food and leave.

    1
  • Aluma

    on Apr 25

    I'd recommend trying a new, local restaurant every day. That way you get to try new places and you give money to local businesses.

    2
  • Saitama

    on Apr 25

    I know that habit! Its a few years ago now, but I used to do the same. There was a McDonalds at my train station so it just seemed like the easiest choice. Now; a bit of a mix of what everyone else has said. I do try and go for somewhere with a drink bar though. I love cola but I only allow myself drink it a restaurant, so drink bar allows me catch up on my cola dose! I use area magazines sometimes too; in our area they are Moteco. They are like a directory of shops and services, but they usually come with coupons for most of the places they list - so I find a new place and have a discount coupon. Win-win!

    1
  • Radar

    on Apr 26

    If you want to try varieties of food, why not try a local buffet ?

    1
  • JapanExpert

    on Apr 26

    Ikinari Steak - a chain that seems to have had quite a number of spots open in recent years. The food is great and it's not intimidating, even for those who often shy away from eating out alone.

    1
  • Tomuu

    on May 12

    @JapanExpert - Hadn't thought of this one. Thanks for the tip. I'll be on the look out.

    0
  • Tomuu

    on May 12

    @Saitama - Thanks! I would say that if you're restricting yourself to cola in a restaurant then, yes, one with a drink bar makes good sense! You know, I've never used those coupons. Are they a good money-saver?

    0
  • helloalissa

    on May 16

    Lots of good answers already, but I wanted to chime in. I prefer either cafes (like Joyfull) with drink bar - for when I have some time and want to do some thinking or studying, or a local place. The mom & pop places are really nice on weekdays when they aren't too busy and they'll often chat with you, if you're in the mood to chat with someone. (But as expected they always ask those same questions.) Ramen (or udon, soba, etc.) is great; okonomiyaki... is more awkward with your own teppan but alright when it's normal tables/bars. The non-chain donburi shops, if you can find a good one, are great. Yakiniku might also be strange alone.

    1
  • Tomuu

    on May 17

    @helloalissa I love yakiniku, but I agree, could be a strange one to tackle solo. Definitely beyond me, I would say.

    0
  • Louiseyd

    on May 24

    Ramen Taro or anywhere with a counter (Yoshinoya, Gyoza no Ohsho etc) are great places to eat alone and not be embarrassed.

    1
  • Tomuu

    on May 25

    @Louiseyd Noted. Thanks. Yea, counter places sound like a good choice if you're uncomfortable going solo.

    0
  • gracescale

    on Sep 14

    I recommend Ichiran Ramen for solo dinner go-to place for a fine cold evening (or even hot!). The restaurant has its own separate spaces with dividers allowing you to 'concentrate on the taste of their delicious broth'. Otherwise, it is also a good place to linger on your thoughts whilst bulging up a fine dinner without spending more than 1000 yen. For me it is like a coffee shop experience with a little spice!

    1
  • Tomuu

    on Sep 14

    @gracescale - "the coffee shop experience with a little spice" - I'd never thought of it like that but, yea, makes sense. I do like Ichiran and this is a good shout. Thx

    0
  • Weellee

    on Jun 13

    The Skylark restaurants in my area (Bamiyan, Gusto, Jonathan's) are my "go to" places for dining solo, although I would stay away from those on weekends. On weekdays, however, they are great - especially if I chance upon a seat by the window. I like Jonathan's the most because of their menu (looove their chicken dishes and desserts), and their drink bar serves drinks you won't see in the other 2. Yes, they may be family restaurants but I absolutely don't mind dining there solo - for as long as I get a good seat. Lately I've been doing most of my writing in those places rather than at home. For some reason I get to write more while I'm there.

    0

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