Pressed for time on a Tokyo lunch break? Don’t fret - even if you’re sprinting between meetings, this city has you covered. When it comes to the Tokyo lunch scene, “fast” and “quality” aren’t mutually exclusive. Here’s how to make the most of your lunch break in Tokyo with time to spare.
Stop by a ramen restaurant.
You’ll likely spot a whole host of ramen restaurants near your office that are optimized for busy workers to squeeze in lunch fast. While an evening trip to a ramen joint might be a more relaxed sit-down affair, at lunch you can eat in a hurry at a standing-only bar. Don’t forget to slurp your noodles - it’s polite!
Grab gyudon on the go.
If you’re really tight on time, a gyudon spot is where it’s at. Enjoy a tasty (and cheap!) beef bowl in a hurry. A word of warning: keep your “polite office face” at the ready, because gyudon joints are hot spots for busy workers and odds are high that you’ll run into an acquaintance or two.
Feast on curry.
Curry over rice is about as tasty and filling as it gets, so it’s great fuel on days when you know you’ll be working late. In some curry restaurants, you can place your order via ticket machine and the waitstaff will hightail your meal over to you at warp speed. No promises that all those rich carbs won’t lead to one of the most intense 3pm slumps of your life, but hey, the taste is worth it, right? Here’s hoping there’s a secret nap spot in the office.
Savor some soba noodles.
If you’d like to linger over slightly lighter meal, you might opt for soba noodles. When served without soup, these buckwheat noodles are perfect for dipping in soy sauce and other flavor-makers.
Treat yourself to kaiten sushi.
At a kaiten restaurant, you’ll watch plates of sushi breeze by your table on a conveyor belt. Grab whatever you like as it passes by. Your bill will be tabulated based on how many plates are on your table at the end of your meal. How long you linger over kaiten depends on how many plates you grab, so it’s great for a leisurely lunch or a quick bite.
Pop into a convenience store.
Japanese convenience stores, or konbini, have just about any kind of fresh on-the-go snack you can dream of. Your local Tokyo konbini is likely to offer sandwiches, onigiri, pre-made hot meals, and more obscure varieties of pretty pastries than you can count. You can even grab a craft beer to go, because in Japan, it’s legal to sip on an afternoon brew on the street.
Take a walk in the park.
If you’ve loaded up on konbini food and have some time to extra time before heading back to the office, mix a little bleisure into your workday with a stroll through a park. If you’re spending time in Shinjuku or Shinagawa, where a majority of office workers are based, you might want to wander through Shinjuku Park or Gotenyama Garden. And of course, there’s always the option of just winding your way through the city streets to explore. If it’s a chilly day, you can always grab a can of hot vending machine coffee to keep you warm. (Or hot corn soup. Did we mention that Japanese vending machines have hot corn soup? Tokyo truly has it all.)
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