If you like to eat or drink, you owe yourself a trip here.
With RocketNews24’s great love of all-you-can-eat deals, some might worry that our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, but we usually come away perfectly happy with our jumbo-sized meals. However, while our peepers and our bellies are equally large, our bank accounts aren’t all that big.
As such, when we gorge ourselves, it’s often on something delicious but fundamentally inexpensive, like fried chicken, cookies, or a whole bunch of eggs. But we recently treated ourselves to an all-you-can-eat crab dinner in downtown Tokyo, because the limitless shellfish cost just 1,995 yen (US$17.65).
We didn’t have to travel to some far-flung corner of the capital, either. The restaurant, called Chikugoya, is a five-minute walk from Tabata Station. While Tabata doesn’t get tons of tourist traffic, it’s on the Yamanote train line that encircles the heart of Tokyo, so if you’re working or travelling anywhere in the city center, you’re at most a half-hour away from unlimited crab.
That’s not Chikugoya’s only amazing offer, either. As we approached the entrance, we spotted a sign for the restaurant’s happy hour. Really, calling it a “happy hour” is pretty inaccurate, though. Not only is it actually two hours long (from 4 to 6 p.m.), during the time block shochu sour cocktails and whiskey highballs are just 50 yen (US 44 cents) each, which isn’t so much a “happy” situation as an “ecstatic” one.
▼ This highball cost less than half of what you’d pay for a bottle of water from a vending machine.
Chikugoya’s all-you-can-eat crab deal has a two-hour time limit, but the restaurant doesn’t try to skimp you with small servings to conserve costs as you wait for a refill. After we’d taken a few sips of our drink, our server came back with the first plate of seafood for our two-person party, which looked to be at least two full snow crabs.
We cracked open a leg and scooped out a morsel, which was flavorful and amazingly juicy. Chikugoya’s crab is shipped direct from the northern island of Hokkaido, known for having the best-tasting crab caught in Japan’s seas.
Once we’d finished our first plate, the waiter came back with another…
…and once we’d polished that off, it was time for round three.
We’re not sure how exactly Chikugoya manages to stay in business offering so much high-quality seafood for such a low price. According to the restaurant’s Facebook page, it doesn’t try to turn a profit on its all-you-can-eat crab deal, but instead tries to eke out a small net gain on alcoholic drinks. We didn’t see how that could be possible at 50 yen a glass, so we decided to order a couple other items off the menu too, including Japanese-style stewed beef and vegetables, a salad, and, because we just couldn’t resist eating even more crab, some crab ochazuke (rice with green tea), all of which provided tasty accompaniment to the piles of snow crab we were stuffing our faces with.
So in the end, we’re unable to understand how a restaurant like this can exist, but we’re extremely happy that it does.
Chikugoya / 千九五家
Address: Tokyo-to, Kita-ku, Tabata Shinmachi 2-14-8, Hinomoto Dai 2 Building, 1st floor
Open 4 p.m.-11 p.m. (weekdays), 4 p.m.-10 p.m. (Saturday)
Closed Sundays and holidays
[ Read in Japanese ]