Exploring Japan's All You Can Eat and Drink "Houdai" Culture
All you can eat
There was an infinite refill culture in countries like America when it comes to soft drinks, coffee, and tea where if you pay for a cup you can drink as much as you want. Then with food there of course is all you can eat buffets allowing you to eat your hearts out. Japan has a similar culture, but in many ways better.
In Japan, there is an "all you can eat/drink", or "houdai" culture that completely opens new doors to what we thought we knew about dining out. Available at most izakayas and other restaurants, Japan's "tabe-houdai" (食べ放題), all you can eat, and "nomi-houdai" (飲み放題), all you can drink, culture's make you wonder why more people in Japan aren't alcoholics and how they remain so skinny.
Recommended "Tabehoudai" (食べ放題), All You Can Eat Restaurant
All you can eat menus can range anywhere from 1000yen to 9000yen depending on the restaurant. What makes it different from a buffet is you stay at your table and order the food you want from the menu. Sometimes the menus can be specific, like yakiniku (grilled beef) or yakitori (chicken skewers) tabehoudai, others you get a wide variety of food allowing you to try lots of different things.
One place we recommend is in Roppongi and allows you to eat a lot of yummy Japanese food:
Shabu-Shabu & Sushi Hassan
🍴Hassan (八山 六本木)
Roppongi Station (2min walk)
Price range - 8,000～15,000yen
⏰Weekdays - 12pm～3pm (LO 2pm), 5:30pm～11pm (LO 10pm)
Saturdays - 12pm～3pm (LO 2pm), 5pm～11pm (LO 10pm)
Holidays - 12pm～3pm (LO 2pm), 5pm～10pm (LO 9pm)
All you can eat menu
Recommended "Nomihoudai" (飲み放題), All You Can Drink Restaurant
Just like with tabehodai, you can enjoy all you can drink (nomihodai) menus at restaurants. When hearing that, you would assume that would only include non-alcoholic drinks, but nope! Beer and hard liquor is also included in the nomihodai menu. In fact, that is what most Japanese people go to do, drink tons and tons of alcohol in the allotted time. There are so many places that offer nomihodai but some don't have a wide variety of drinks, so if possible ask to check the menu before deciding otherwise you may end up drinking the same thing all night.
Since Shibuya is another great place to hang out at night, we wanted to recommend an izakaya located in the middle of Shibuya:
🍻Yonesuke Shibuya Branch (米助 渋谷店）
- JR Shibuya Station Hachiko Exit (3min walk)
Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line Shibuya Station (same exit) (3min walk)
⏰Mon～Thurs: 5pm～midnight (L.O. 11pm)
Fri & Sat: 5pm～5am (next day) (L.O. 4am)
Sun & National holidays: 4pm～midnight (L.O. 11pm)
Infinite Games too!?
Japan's gaming and entertainment is another side of Japan. It's even better when the "houdai" culture applies! At the room spy-themed escape room InSPYre in Shinjuku's Kabukicho district there is a special plan for foreigners allowing them to play unlimited for two hours. In traditional escape room fashion, the games include lots of problem solving as you become a spy. There are multilingual instructions so no need to worry if you don't speak Japanese!
⏰ : 11am - 5am the next morning (no fixed holidays)
💴 : 1 game (20 minutes) 980yen
・2 games (+ drink bar) 1980yen
・3 games (Mon~Fri open to 6pm) 1980yen
・3 games (Mon~Fri 6pm to 11pm, + drink bar) 2480yen
・3 games (Weekdays&Holidays open to 11pm, + drink bar) 2480yen
・5 games (Mon~Fri open to 11pm, + drink bar) 3480yen
・"Asobihodai" All you can plan (Holidays, Sun~Thurs 11:30pm to 2:30am, + drink bar) 3480yen
・"Asobihodai" (Fri, Sat, day before holidays 11:30pm to 2:30am, + drink bar) 3980yen
*Final game is at 4:30am
There are many restaurants in Japan that offer the great tabehoudai and nomihoudai menus, like Korean food, Western food, sushi, hotpot, tons of meat, and so on. There are even some all you can eat dessert restaurants in Tokyo like the restaurant Sweets Paradise
. Usually, you are given 90 minutes with last order being either the last 30 minutes to an hour of the meal.
When you come to Japan, we strongly advise you jumping into the tabehoudai, nomihoudai culture! Not only does it give you a cool look at daily Japanese life, but it is also very economical. But if you do, one thing to look out for is leaving food. Some places will charge you a little extra for the waste, but normally a little bit is fine. Have a nice meal!
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