12/03/2021

Satisfyingly expensive to surprisingly cheap: The average cost of a sushi meal in Japan

When people are talking about Japanese food, sushi is usually the first thing that pops into our minds. Its reputation around the world has made it a staple when it comes to Japanese food. In taking a trip to Japan, never forget to try the authentic sushi offered there.


Table of Contents

  1. What makes Japanese sushi special
  2. The average cost of a sushi meal
  3. Etiquette observed when eating sushi
  4. Summary

 

What makes Japanese sushi special

Sushi is not just paying for a platter of fish, rice, and seaweed. It takes the hands of a skilled chef to blend all the ingredients in the most delicious way possible before it is laid out gracefully to satiate your hunger. The top-tier chefs train for years before they are allowed to serve customers.

Sushi is prepared delicately from the finest ingredients. The best sushi is not just fresh tuna or mackerel, but is set apart based on the grade, cut, location and so on. This dish, before served, is made to pass the standard of world-class sushi - safe, neat, valuable, and delicious.

So what you’re paying for is the skill and the quality all in one delicate piece of sushi.

Types of sushi and sushi rolls

In account of sushi’s popularity, the innovation of the dish became a trend. Restaurants stepped up in exhibiting the different paintings of sushi. Some of the common types of sushi and sushi rolls are:

 1. Sashimi

Representing not your typical sushi, but just enjoying your fish served raw with wasabi paste and other seasonings. This is the fish part of the sushi without the rice. How beautifully and delicately the chef can cut the fish is praised.

 2. Nigiri

This is what most people picture when they hear sushi. Nigiri is sashimi placed on top of special sushi rice.

 3. Chirashi

It is a mix of fish and vegetables spread over seasoned sushi rice, thus, ‘’scattered’’ in translation.

 4. Kaisendon

This is essentially a sushi bowl. The higher grade the ingredients, or the more variety of ingredients in the bowl, the more expensive it tends to be. 

 5. Maki

This is the other type people may picture when they think of sushi. This is basically sushi rice,raw fish and some vegetables carefully rolled in seaweed and cut into often round pieces. It is offered in several sizes and rolls - Futomaki, Hosomaki, Gunkanmaki, and the hand-rolled cone shape Temaki. There is another type, uramaki, which are not found as often in Japan but overseas. These include things like the California Roll, spicy tuna roll, etc. that often use ingredients like avocado. They have become a little more popular in Japan recently, but are not what Japanese people think of when they talk about sushi.

The average cost of a sushi meal

Sushi is often categorized by prices, and since quality-grade sushi is really expensive, the following list will let you enjoy tasty sushi bought at an affordable price. One hint is that if sushi is written 寿司 in the name of the restaurant, it is probably on the more affordable end, whereas sushi written as 鮨 tends to be more expensive. Also ordering the omakase set - which means leaving the choices up to the chef - may be more expensive but great if you’re not picky, in for an adventure and want a guaranteed great taste that you may have never tried before.

Cheap sushi 

If you are outside of Japan, people usually avoid cheap sushi as it usually doesn’t taste so great. But in Japan, you can enjoy the taste of sushi in your mouth with an initial price amounting at an affordable cost in these places:

 1. Sushi takeout by the station or sushi bowl shops 

At many stations, there are takeout shops lined up just outside for convenience for those heading home from work and too tired to cook. Oftentimes, a sushi takeout shop is included, such as the chain shop Chiyoda Sushi. Discounts are often offered closer to closing. Another option are the 500 yen kaisendon sushi bowl shops, like Donmaru. 

 2. Conveyor Belt Sushi Restaurants

Not all conveyor belt sushi restaurants are cheap, but you can definitely find some of the cheapest sushi options at some of them! You can probably purchase sushi at the following at around 100~200 yen per plate and find the taste still absolute. Look for Ganso Sushi, Kaitenzushi Katsumidori, Genki Sushi, Hamazushi, Sushiro, Sushi-Daidokoya, Uobei Sushi, Senryo, Kurazushi, Daikokusan, and more! These include both the kinds where you take the plate of what you want to eat yourself off the revolving counter of many sushi types, as well as the ones you order on an ipad. 

 3. Sushi at Supermarkets or Convenience Stores

The price varies in every supermarket and convenience store, with supermarkets tending to be a little cheaper. However, the price of about 6 to 8 pieces usually ranges from 500 to 700 or 800 yen. You can also buy individual rolls for about 100 to 120 yen each, more if depending on the size and ingredient. And it’s usually cheaper at night closer to closing at supermarkets, but it’s not a guarantee that any will be left!

Midgrade sushi 

Many sushi restaurants fall in the mid grade range. However, it’s important to go to one that has a good reputation. If you want to try sushi between a budget price and an expensive one at the tip of your tongue, the following may satisfy your cravings:

 1. Sushi Katsura

Sushi Katsura serves the best sushi rolls at a slightly higher price than the other conveyor belt chains, isolated in Tsukiji Fish Market. Their prices are much more affordable at lunch, falling under the cheap category, actually, with their 9-set sushi costs 1300 yen, with an extra maki roll. But at night, prices can go up to 10,000 yen and more. 

※Sushi Katsura, “Menu

 2. Fish Markets

Fish Markets are actually some of the best places to go for midgrade sushi because you get the freshest ingredients but dishes made at reasonable prices for those visiting, as the most expensive part of the market is the fish auction itself. Check out the fish markets in various cities across Japan, including the Toyosu Market in Tokyo, Kuromon Market in Osaka, the Hakodate Morning Market, and so on.

Expensive sushi (famous restaurants served by Itamae, top sushi chefs)

Experienced the taste of the best sushi in Japan, that is if you want to spend tens of thousands of yen like what the former US President Barack Obama did. The lists guide you to the pathway of the best sushi deals in Japan:

 1. Sukiyabashi Jiro Honten

This mouth-watering sushi restaurant in Ginza district will lighten your wallet but elevate your experience. This is by far the most expensive restaurant in Japan, made famous by being featured in a documentary, with sushi that will cost you 44,000 yen. It is pricey, but the set promises to  leave you wondering why you haven’t tasted sushi before. Experience what Obama felt! However, please check the rules and etiquette when visiting as it will not be a leisurely meal.

※ Sukiyabashi Jiro, "Menu"

 2. Sushi Matsumoto

A recognized Michelin restaurant in Kyoto, loved by locals and tourists alike, run by Chef Matsumoto. Lunch will cost you a little over 10,000 yen, and dinner will go up to about 20,000 yen, so the taste is not cheap, but it is outstanding!

※ My Concierge Japan, “Sushi Matsumoto

 3. Sushi Fukuju

Also a high-end Japanese restaurant in Ginza, Sushi Fukuju offers a satisfying omakase meal ranging from 9800 (limited to weekdays) to 20000 yen for dinner. You can get the omakase lunch for 9000 yen as well.

※ Sushi Fukuju, "Menu"

Etiquette observed when eating sushi

Your initial reaction when sushi is placed in front of you is how you will eat it. Are there steps in eating this famous dish? Should I eat it with my bare hands or pick it with chopsticks? 

You should eat sushi and just enjoy your meal in a method you are most comfortable with. It’s recommended to dip the fish or seafood part in the soy sauce, not the rice. Sushi can also be partnered with alcohol, if you like.

When the sushi is served, eat it immediately, especially in higher end places where the chef is making each piece at a time for you. It ensures the freshness of the sushi but can also be considered rude if you leave the piece for a while as there is a certain pace at which the chef makes the sushi.

If you are eating in a conveyor belt sushi place, you should keep in mind that returning a platter you didn’t even touch is unacceptable, so before picking up a plate, make sure that it’s something you’d want. 

Summary

Sushi is the perfect dish you can enjoy with your family and friends at prices flexible with your budget. This dish, made to perfection, is the most prized possession of the country, and it is something you should try once in your life. It is safe to say that with sushi, it is the same as enjoying Japan on a plate. 
 

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