Or grilled fish, if you’re in the mood for something healthier.
Most of the time, when we stumble across an amazing all–you–can–eat deal in Tokyo, the catch is that there’s not a lot of variety to the meal. It’s an acceptable condition, though. As much as we’d like to think these restaurants are providing us with unlimited food out of admiration for our pleasing personalities and pleasant smell, we understand that they’re businesses, and the generosity of an all-you-can-eat deal has to be counterbalanced with the cost savings that come from purchasing and preparing ingredients in bulk batches.
So imagine our surprise when we stumbled across a restaurant in Tokyo with a lunch deal that not only gets you two types of all-you-can-eat grub, but also tosses in another main dish for free that could be the star of a meal itself, and all for just 500 yen (US$4.50)!
Hakata Mangetsu is a chain of izakaya (Japanese pubs), which means its peak business hours come at night, when groups of customers come in to order small plates of food and copious amounts of alcohol. In recent years, though, more and more izakaya are serving special lunch menus, and Hakata Mangetsu’s branch in the Ichigaya neighborhood of Tokyo has one of the most special of all.
What initially caught our eye was the promise of all-you-can-eat curry and udon noodles for 500 yen. Considering that a single serving of either can easily cost you 500 yen by itself, this is already a pretty great deal, but it gets even better.
In addition to the curry and udon, you also get to choose from one of five other main dish-worthy items. On the day we stopped by, the options were deep-fried chicken cutlet, grilled mackerel, or one of three different types of karaage (Japanese-style friend chicken).
We decided on the karaage with sweet vinegar sauce, and since you pay up front, we handed a single 500-yen coin to the cashier and headed to the buffet line while we waited for the chef to cook our fried chicken.
▼ Our first (but not last) helpings of curry and udon.
As is the norm in Japan, the curry s served with steamed rice, which is available in unlimited quantities. Also getting all-you-can-eat status are miso soup, pickles, and two types of vegetable dishes, which on this day were daikon radish and macaroni salads.
There’s so much tasty stuff that we had to keep reminding ourselves not to stuff our stomachs to capacity just yet, since we needed to save room for our karaage, which a server brought to our table before long.
▼ Our ridiculous cheap 500-yen lunch (not pictured: our subsequent refills of curry and udon)
Hakata Mangestu’s Ichigaya branch offers this all-you-can-eat lunch deal from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on weekdays, as its mainly aimed at the lunch crowd from nearby offices. That doesn’t mean you can’t join them for an extremely affordable and satisfying meal, and since you pay at the beginning, you won’t have to worry about meeting the cashier’s shocked gaze on the way out if you’re hungry enough to polish off an astounding amount of chow.
Hakata Mangetsu (Ichigaya branch) / 博多満月（市ヶ谷店）
Address: Tokyo-to, Chiyoda-ku, Gobancho 4-2-2, Higashi Pure Building 2nd floor
Open 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5 p.m.-midnight (weekdays), 5 p.m.-11:30 p.m. (Saturday)
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[ Read in Japanese ]