Open Wide

Open Wide

Feast to your heart’s content at Tokyo’s best all-you-can-eat restaurants


Originally published on on January 2010


Imperial Viking Sal


Not many restaurants manage to make an impact on a country’s language and culture, but Imperial Viking Sal is one such place. The Japanese word for buffet, baikingu, derives from the name of this eatery, which opened in the Imperial Hotel in 1958 and which continues to serve up delectable gourmet fare. Imperial Viking Sal (right) is Tokyo’s most elegant venue for tabehodai dining, making it the perfect place to impress finicky out-of-town visitors (I’m looking at you, mom and dad!). Lunch (¥5,775) and dinner (¥8,662) feature seasonal arrays of salads, charcuterie, curries, roasts, stews, gratins, breads, cheeses and dessert; coffee or tea is also included in the deal. The menu for January includes the likes of Andalusia-style almond soup, marinated herring, roast beef, bouillabaisse, leg of lamb, shrimp Newburg and dozens of other dishes.
Imperial Hotel Tokyo, 17F Main Bldg, 1-1-1 Uchisaiwaicho, Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 03-3539-8187. Open daily 7-9:30am, 11:30am-2:30pm and 5:30-9:30pm. Nearest stn: Hibiya.

Matsuri Bayashi

With cozy ozashiki seating and a ground-zero Asakusa location, Matsuri Bayashi is a typical shitamachi restaurant… with a not-so-typical menu. For ¥1,980, diners can enjoy an all-you-can-eat plan that includes monjayaki, okonomiyaki, a drink and—just for the ladies—ice cream for dessert. Monja fillings include traditional add-ins like mentaiko, shrimp, ika and mochi, as well as more un-orthodox varieties like natto, cheese, kimchi and Baby Star snack noodles(!). The okonomiyaki menu, meanwhile, features classic varieties like pork, beef, shrimp and tako, or Hiroshima-style (with noodles) and even a “calzone” version. This family-friendly dining spot offers a half-price discount to elementary-school students, while tots can get started on the road to big eating for ¥495. Other generous discounts include 50 percent off the à la carte menu for anyone who orders the tabehodai plan, and if you’re a monja novice, the staff will teach you how to make it for free.
2F, 1-8-4 Asakusa, Taito-ku. Tel: 03-3844-6363. Open daily noon-11:30pm (LO 10:30pm). Nearest stn: Asakusa.

No no Budo


Things are kept decidedly wholesome at No no Budo (right), where diners eat off wooden plates, young families crowd the tables, and the vegetables are sourced directly from farmers in Saitama. There are around 80 dishes on offer in a buffet where quantity and quality seem not to be mutually opposed concepts. The selection varies according to the season, but you can expect an ample range of Western- and Japanese-style salads, tempura, udon, soups and freshly made tofu, plus pasta, curry and stir-fry dishes that fall on the right side of stodgy. We’d be tempted to call it “health food” if we hadn’t just eaten far too much of it. Save room for dessert, which includes fruit, Japanese-style cakes and ice cream. The buffet costs ¥1,600 at lunch and ¥2,600 at dinner (¥1,000 for elementary schoolers and ¥400 for younger children). In the evening, an extra ¥1,400 gets you all-you-can-drink, with draft Ebisu beer, nihonshu, shochu, wine and cocktails.
3F Tokia Bldg, 2-7-3 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku. Tel: 03-3215-7320. Open daily 11am-4pm (LO 3pm) and 5:30-11pm (LO 9:30pm). Nearest stn: Tokyo, Marunouchi South exit.


If you’re having trouble finding Shofukumon in the warren of Chinatown’s crowded streets, just look for the restaurant with the longest line out front. This mega-popular eatery offers an impressive selection of all-you-can-eat dim sum dishes, which are made to order and served at your table. Besides the usual items like pot stickers, steamed buns and shumai, diners can enjoy offbeat fare like gyoza with scallops and XO sauce; shark’s fin dumplings in soup; chicken legs with black bean sauce; and gyoza with spinach. In all, 15 varieties of steamed dishes are on offer, plus seven deep-fried items, a pair of okayu porridges, chahan, yakisoba and dessert—all for just ¥2,625 per person. Unfortunately, Shofukumon (top) doesn’t accept reservations, which means you’ll have to stand in line like everyone else. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed. (Note: the tabehodai deal is available only on the second floor.)
81-3 Yamashita-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama. Tel: 0120-68-2180. Open Mon-Fri 11:30am-10pm (LO 9pm), Sat-Sun & hols 11am-10pm (LO 9pm). Nearest stn: Motomachi-Chukagai (Minatomirai line).



What’s better than stuffing yourself full of hot, steaming nabe on a cold winter’s night? Not much in our book, except possibly for enjoying this delight in a space that looks like something from the Tim Burton school of design. The funky interior at the Jiyugaoka branch of chain restaurant Nabezo serves as a moody backdrop to the down-home eats. The menu is strictly tabehodai. First, choose a broth—shabu-shabu, sukiyaki, kimchi, tonkotsu (¥1,980 each) or a mix of any two (¥2,180). Each comes with 90 minutes of all the pork and beef you can eat and unlimited trips to the yummy veggie bar, where you can load up on extras like tofu,bok choy, vermicelli noodles, daikon and more, plus a variety of sauces and spices. For an extra ¥480, you can get unlimited rice and soft drinks, or rice and booze for ¥1,500. While the trippy decor is what keeps us firmly anchored in Jiyugaoka, the chain’s other locations—including Shibuya, Kamata, Kawasaki and Ikebukuro—offer the same menu.
B1, 2-12-17 Jiyugaoka, Meguro-ku. Tel: 03-5701-4129. Open daily 5-11pm (LO 10:30pm). Nearest stn: Jiyugaoka.


There aren’t many things good enough to be worth the schlep out to Ekoda, but Shamaim is one of them. OK, probably the only one. This long-running Israeli eatery does some of the tastiest falafel in town, but it’s the gut-busting tabehodai deal that keeps people coming back. The appropriately named “Middle East Feast” (¥2,100) crams in just about everything on the à la carte menu: chicken and lamb kebabs, chicken schnitzel, falafel, humus, tahini, pita bread, rice and lentils, soup, fried potatoes, and a selection of Israeli-style salads. When you run out of a particular dish, just ask for more. And more. A vegetarian version is also available that ups the portion sizes of all the non-meat dishes to obscene proportions. Expect to walk out a few kilos heavier, if only that.
2F, 4-11 Sakae-cho, Nerima-ku. Tel: 03-3948-5333. Open Tue-Fri 5pm-midnight, Sat-Sun noon-midnight, closed Mon. Nearest stn: Ekoda (Seibu Ikebukuro line).

And keep in mind…

Impress your date with the buffet at the flash Hapuna in the Shinagawa Prince Hotel (4-10-30 Takanawa, Minato-ku; This gorgeously designed restaurant offers Japanese and Western delicacies of every imaginable type—plus a chocolate fountain with fresh fruit (¥5,500). For a less-expensive hotel option, head to Compass at the Yokohama Bay Sheraton Hotel & Towers (; 045-411-1111), where the 50-dish spread costs just ¥3,360. Maybe the best bang for your buck, though, is at Indian restaurant Taz Mahal in Shinjuku (1-4-19 Nishi-Shinjuku;, which offers all you can eat and drink for just ¥2,500. Fans of Brazilian food on the cheap will find their thrill at Shibuya’s Tucano’s (2-23-12 Dogenzaka;—the lunch buffet is a mere ¥880, and churrasco deals start at just ¥1,980 (lunch) and ¥3,300 (dinner). The ¥945 all-you-can eat lunch buffet at Thai eatery Siam in Yurakucho (2F Ginza Inz 1, 3-1 Ginza-Nishi, Chuo-ku; comes highly recommended by both current and former Metropolis staffers. Perhaps the oddest tabehodai deal we’ve come across is the conveyor-belt dim sum at Ten Ten Tsune Tsune (, with locations in Chinatown (2F, 216 Yamashita-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama) and the “Little Hong Kong” area in Odaiba (7F Decks, 1-6-1 Daiba, Minato-ku). This wondrous eatery offers up 70 items, all-you-can-eat-style, for ¥1,200 at lunch and ¥2,000 at dinner. And they keep comin’ and comin’.