The 2008 Michelin Guide to Tokyo awarded a record number of stars the city's restaurants. Only problem, you'll need a very deep wallet to eat through these places.
The easiest way to try some of the Michelin restaurants without breaking the bank is to visit for lunch. The following guide highlights the (few) restaurants where you can have lunch for under 5,000 yen. During dinner time it is practically impossible to eat at any starred restaurant for under 10,000 yen/person, so all recommendations are just for lunch. Keep in mind that restaurants may change their prices, but you'll be surprised to find out that you can eat at a Michelin-star restaurant for as little as 800 yen!
Nakajima (Shinjuku) -- The award for the cheapest Michelin restaurant goes to Nakajima, where a set lunch comes to 800 yen. You have a choice between grilled, fried or boiled fish, together with rice, miso soup and pickles.
Abe (Akasaka) -- Located halfway between Roppongi and Akasaka, this traditional Japanese restaurant is extremely popular at lunch time with the office workers in the area. The set includes tofu, two specials of the day, and a choice between fish or meat. Best of all, it costs only 1,365 yen.
Sankame (Ginza) -- Food from the Kansai region at a small restaurant with plenty of politicians and famous people among its patrons. Lunch costs 1,750 yen, and includes a choice between sashimi or grilled fish, rice, soup, pickles, a boiled item and fruit.
Fureika (Roppongi) -- A popular Chinese restaurant in Azabu-juban. The lunch set starts from 2,000 yen on weekdays. (3,300 yen on weekend).
Momonoki (Roppongi) -- A superb Chinese restaurant, where the ingredients are top-notch. The lunch sets cost either 2,500 or 4,000 yen and come with four special courses of the day.
Maison Paul Bocuse (Shibuya) -- This is a chance to try the hand of one of France's most influential and celebrated chefs. The lunch menu costs 2,680 yen, and there's a more elaborate option for 3,780 yen (10% service charge applies).
Chemins (Akasaka) -- Located in Akasaka, the lunch menu costs 2,800 yen with one appetizer and 3,900 yen with two appetizers (plus a 10 % service charge). The set includes four courses, and some of the choices are a fried spring roll with boudin noir, snails cooked in butter or beef cheeks. The desserts are always creative, such as cabbage ice cream.
Miravile (Shibuya) -- A French restaurant that offers good value, and where the food is playful and creative. A 3-course lunch menu costs 2,800 yen (choice between fish or meat), while having both proteins costs 3,900 yen.
Benoit (Aoyama) -- The branch of a Paris bistro featuring French comfort food. There's a weekly lunch menu that includes an appetizer, the special of the day and ice cream for 3,000 yen. For 4,500 yen you get two appetizers, more choices for the main dish and dessert.
Ristorante Honda (Aoyama) -- Ristorante Honda offers four courses for 3,675 yen. If you'd rather have a smaller meal, getting just the pasta or the main dish costs 2,940 yen. This is one of the few Italian restaurants to receive a star.
Les Enfants Gates (Shibuya) -- If terrines are your thing, then there's no better place than here. The lunch menu costs 3,150 yen, and includes a choice of one of the incredible terrines that chef Haraguchi puts out (the set includes five courses).
Sazanka (Roppongi) -- A teppanyaki restaurant known for sirloin steaks. The yama menu costs 4,725 yen, and includes seven courses, one of which is a 180g wagyu sirloin steak. The Umi course costs the same, but comes with seasonal fish, crab and shrimp. A cheaper option is the Japanese hamburger lunch for 3,150 yen.
Ebisu (Ebisu) -- On weekdays arrive early to snap one of ten hamburgers or one of 20 Japanese beef lunches for 3,200 and 3,500 yen each. Otherwise, for 4,000 yen you get a full teppanyaki menu that includes appetizers, choice of grilled items and dessert (available on weekends too).
Le Jeu de L'Assiete (Ebisu) -- The dishes change seasonally, but in the past they've included watercress cold soup with a salt gelee and shortneck clams, or free range chicken caramelized in balsamic vinegar. The champagne lunch includes three courses and a glass of bubbly while the lunch leger includes four courses. Both cost 3,500 yen.
Hanasansho (Shimbashi) -- A formal Japanese restaurant (kaiseki) located on the 25th floor of the Park Hotel Tokyo. At lunch time they offer the Shokado lunch box for 3,675 yen.
Tateru Yoshino (Shimbashi) -- The lunch menu A comes to 3,675 yen plus a 10% service charge. Choose an appetizer and between fish or meat. The set also comes with soup and dessert. Choices in the past have included duck fillet with a foie gras stuffing, stewed beef cheeks or salmon.
Au Gout du Jour Nouvelle Ere (Tokyo) -- The chef is known for his creative desserts, and the lunch special at 3,800 yen includes an assortment of three, which are preceded by an appetizer and a main dish.
Yukicho (Ginza) -- This is your chance to eat at a traditional Japanese restaurant with over 80 years of history in a sukiya-style building. The Yukicho-gozen lunch (small lunch tray) costs 3,800 yen in its cheapest version.
Coucagno (Shibuya) -- Choices for lunch at this French restaurant with an amazing view from a 40th floor include pate with kiwi jelly, pork confit or breast of duck in a berry and bitter chocolate sauce. The Menu A comes to 4,100 yen (no service charge) and includes four courses plus coffee at the end.
Narukami (Ginza) -- This restaurant cuts it close to our limit of 5,000 yen. On weekdays they offer a lunch menu that consists of an appetizer, a fish dish and dessert for 4,725 yen. The food is seasonal French with a bit of Italian influences.
Esaki (Aoyama) -- Quietly tucked away in Jingu-mae, Esaki serves Japanese food made with organic ingredients. They have two lunch menus, which cost 3,500 and 5,000 yen each. Be careful, they only open for lunch on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon (Roppongi) -- Joel Robuchon holds the most Michelin stars worldwide, with a total of 17. L'Atelier's concept is to be a more informal French restaurant, with Japanese and Spanish influences appearing on the menu. Lunch sets can be had for 2,900 and 3,950 yen each, plus a 10% service charge.
Truth be told, it's not possible to eat at any three star restaurant for under 5,000 yen. For the cheapest choice, head to L'Osier, where one of their lunch menus comes to 6,000 yen.