Cheap Eats in Ginza – 1/2

This article first appeared in Metropolis magazine on May 13, 2010. Some of my favorite cheap eats in Ginza.

With shops like Forever 21 and H&M recently opening on Ginza’s main drag, the neighborhood is beginning to shed its reputation as a jet-setter’s playground. Yet budget-conscious diners have long known that the area is home to excellent inexpensive restaurants. Here are some favorites that will leave some yen in your wallet to splurge on a bit of fast fashion.

Tenryu Gyoza

Tenryu Gyoza

This popular Chinese restaurant, renowned for its jumbo gyoza, often has a line outside at lunch. Neon lights over the door and a red sign on the sidewalk designate the entrance just off of Chuo Dori, along with a display case of plastic versions of the popular dishes. The gyoza set menu (¥1,020) comes with six thick-skinned, chewy dumplings stuffed with pork and vegetables served with a bowl of rice. Notably, no garlic is used in the gyoza, which means Tenryu could serve as an off-price date destination. Other popular dishes are chahan (¥920), yakisoba (¥920), shrimp in a sweet and hot chili sauce (¥2,100), sweet-and-sour pork (¥1,900), and more. The gyoza are so popular that they’re even sold to go, omiyage-style.

Chuo-ku, Ginza 2-6-1 中央区銀座2-6-1

Tel: 03-3561-3543

Open Mon-Sat 11:30am-9pm, Sun & hols 11:30am-8pm

Scorpione Stazione

Scorpione Stazione

Located between Yurakucho station and the area’s large Muji store is Scorpione Stazione, popular for its selection of pastas and its large portions. On a recent lunch visit we had a hard time choosing, so tempting were the options, in particular the pastas with seasonal seafood. The lunch set includes bread and olive oil, a serviceable salad, a generous helping of pasta, and coffee or tea. Service is professional, albeit rushed, and during our visit the pasta was a bit overcooked—but, at ¥1,000 with everything included, we weren’t about to complain. Scorpione Stazione is the ideal spot if you’re on a lunch break, but if you hope to linger, let the staff know to bring your drinks after you’re finished; our espressos arrived while we were still eating. This is a large restaurant with about 100 seats, and at nighttime the prices rise to more standard levels.

Chiyoda-ku, Marunouchi 3-8-3 千代田区丸の内3-8-3

Tel: 03-5219-1610

Open Mon-Sat 11:30am-1am, Sun 11:30am-10pm. Lunch until 2pm.

Pyon Pyon Sha Ginza Una

Pyon Pyon Sha Ginza Una

Located near the Sony building and the Sukiyabashi crossing, Ginza Una is the local branch of the Iwate-based Pyon Pyon Sha restaurant chain. The signature dish is the regional Morioka specialty of reimen, a bowl of spicy, cold noodles. A similar Korean dish uses noodles made from buckwheat, but the Morioka variety is made from potato and wheat flour. Ginza Una’s reimen (just ¥1,100 as part of a lunch set) comes with kimchi, beef, hard-boiled egg, cucumbers and watermelon, with a broth made from both beef and chicken. If you’ve never had this dish before, this is a fantastic place to try it, especially in the heat of summer. The menu includes other popular Korean dishes, like the spicy tofu soup known as chige (¥800) and the popular hot-stone rice bowl bibimbap (¥1,000); Iwate beef is the base for hearty meat dishes like gyumeishi and bulgogi. In the evening, Ginza Una offers reasonably priced set menus with an all-you-can-drink option.

Chuo-ku, Ginza 3-2-15, Ginza Glasse 11F   中央区銀座3-2-15 Ginza Glasse 11F

Tel: 03-3535-3020

Open Mon-Sat 11am-11pm, Sun & hols 11am-10pm

Click for Cheap Eats part 2 of 2. Click for other Ginza Eats.

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