New alley in Shibuya, Tokyo with many izakaya

Izakaya | Japanese Food Guide

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Whether you go to a tiny village’s little center or to Tokyo’s most famous areas, everywhere in Japan you will be able to find izakaya. It is easiest to think of an izakaya as the Japanese equivalent of the Western gastropub. What can you expect from a meal at one of these restaurants in Japan?

Casual Meal

Izakaya are a good place to visit when you want a casual meal. There are a wide selection of food, a lively atmosphere, and plenty of beer and sake. This is the place where colleagues go for after-work drinks, friends go to catch up, and families go for a Saturday night dinner.

It is not a place where you go to meet new people in spite of the convivial atmosphere. People tend to stay with their own party and you are not really supposed to go over to other tables or rooms to talk to the people occupying them.

Visiting Izakaya in Japan

When you enter an Izakaya, you are usually given the choice of sitting at the counter, at a table, or on a tatami floor. In many izakaya you can even get your own private room. You usually order a bit at a time, choosing from a selection of typical small Japanese dishes. Examples are yakitori, sashimi, grilled fish, or edamame as well as Japanese interpretations of western food like French fries and beef stew.

In general, food is ordered to share so everyone can have a variety of dishes. Izakaya, especially the larger chains, usually have menus with pictures. So it is also easy to order for foreigners who can’t read Japanese.

Since izakaya food is casual fare to go with drinking, it is usually fairly inexpensive. Depending on how much you drink, you can expect to get away with spending 2,500 yen to 5,000 yen per person. If you are a big drinker you might want to consider taking advantage of all-you-can-drink plans. These are offered at most izakaya.

Having dinner at an izakaya is a great Japanese experience that you should definitely try! Do you need help choosing one and making a reservation? If you book with us, you can always use our concierge service that comes free with every package.

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