Ah, the buffet. Is there anything more exciting than walking into an all-you-can-eat restaurant and sampling different dishes? Japan loves a good spread, and Tokyo is full of them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Known as tabehoudai (all-you-can-eat), you’re just as likely to see the word buffet spelled as byuffe (or ビュッフェ), from the original French, or even the entertaining baiking (バイキング), or Viking—after the first buffet in Japan, the Imperial Hotel’s Viking buffet.
Many restaurants have different buffet courses with different prices, depending on the food, time of day or whether it’s a weekday (weekend is usually more expensive). That said, here are our picks for the best all-you-can-eat spreads in the capital.
Yakiniku and Brazilian Barbecue
For a Buddhist country that didn’t really start eating it until the late 1800s, Japan really loves meat. Gyukaku is a popular yakiniku (grilled meat) restaurant chain with locations nationwide. While yakiniku is usually a group outing, single diners can enjoy a meal solo. Gyukaku’s tabehoudai course is around ¥4,000, giving you 90 different meat options (occasional vegetable and dessert).
Another meat-focused restaurant is Mo-Mo-Paradise (the name means moo moo). The popular Tokyo chain serves up shabu shabu (hot pot) and sukiyaki (beef and vegetables in an iron pot). It’s ¥4,000 and ¥5,000 for all-you-can-eat pork and beef. Try Mo-Mo-Paradise’s sister chain, Nabezo, for a similar menu.
Brazilian barbecue, known as churrasco in Brazil, has been cropping up all over Tokyo. You pay a fixed fee and are treated to an extensive selection of meats, expertly skewered and slow-roasted over an open flame or grill. Barbacoa is one of the more popular restaurants, but there is also Gocchi Batta in Shibuya and Que Bom! in Taito.
Indian Curry and Tacos
Tokyo is an incredible city for non-Japanese food, and that’s reflected in its buffet options. If you’re craving affordable and tasty Indian food, Check out Nirvanam in Minato, Milan Nataraj in Shibuya or Masala Dining in Shinjuku. My pick for northern Indian tabehoudai is Indo in the hipster enclave of Shimokitazawa.
If you love tacos, head to Texmex Factory in Shibuya. They offer an all-you-can-eat Taco Party menu featuring their famous (and very cute) pink tacos. The plan includes free fries refills, and you can upgrade to nomihoudai (all-you-can-drink), too—perfect for pregaming before a big night out in Shibuya clubs (or after).
Some of Tokyo’s best buffets are at hotels. Sure, They’re pricey, but the food quality more than makes up for it. You can even visit the hotel with the first buffet in Japan. Now called The Imperial Viking Sal, it’s still going strong, with an updated menu, everything from appetizers and entrees to desserts.
For a fantastic view, head to the Asakusa View Hotel’s Sky Grill Musashino to feast on the views of Skytree and Sensoji Temple. Of course, the food is also superb, with breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets available.
How Sweets It Is
Man does not live on bread alone. You’ve got to have dessert too. When you’ve had your fill of Tokyo’s many savory dishes, take yourself to one of the city’s many dessert buffets.
Never has a name been more descriptive than Sweets Paradise. With locations around Tokyo and courses starting at around ¥1,500. You’ll be stuffing yourself with all manner of sweet goodness in no time. Seasonal fruit, all kinds of cakes, Haagen-Dazs ice cream, even pasta and curry if you need a savory break—it’s all here in paradise.
If pastries in a glamorous location are more your thing, Delices Tart & Cafe in Ginza offers the “Select Tart Buffet.” For around ¥2,500, you’re given two hours to eat as much of the patisserie’s famous pies as you like.
What’s your favorite Tokyo buffet? Where can you find the best deals? Tell us in the comments!