Moulded by hand by a sushi chef in front of you at the counter, this impressive selection is the type of special locals usually keep a secret to themselves.

From all-you-can-eat ramen buffets to cheap boxed bento lunches, Tokyo is absolutely teeming with cheap eats. The only problem is knowing where to find them, but that’s where our Japanese-language team comes to the rescue, sharing secrets of special lunch deals not advertised on English-language websites and coveted restaurants that thrive purely on word-of-mouth from their satisfied customers.

Now our reporters have unearthed another amazing lunch deal, and this time it’s one that sushi-loving insiders in the know probably wouldn’t want us finding out about. Because this deal offers up a platter of freshly made sushi for less than 5 bucks!

With a deal this great, the restaurant doesn’t have to rely on big flashy signs and advertising to bring customers to its door. In fact, our reporter had walked this street before and never even paid attention to the small, unassuming stand outside which mentions the 8-piece sushi set for 500 yen.

▼ Walking down the stairs to the restaurant, called Utsuki, it became clear that this was one popular eatery.

Utsuki opens at 11:00 a.m., and despite arriving before noon, there was already a queue of more than ten people waiting to get in. A number of people in line were male university students, who often know where the best lunchtime specials are.

It wasn’t too long before our reporter was in the door, seated at a coveted counter spot where he could view the chef moulding the sushi before his eyes. There are three 500-yen lunch specials to choose from – Utsuki Nigiri, Iwashi-Don (Sardine Bowl), and Kamaage Shirasu to Maguro Don (Whitebait and Tuna Bowl) – and if the amazingly fresh-looking ingredients are anything to go by, all these meals offer great value for money.

After ordering the Utsuki Nigiri, our reporter was gobsmacked when it was delivered in front of him. Not only did it look spectacular, but the fact that he was sitting at the counter made him think he was suddenly in a fancier, more expensive sushi restaurant.

Rather than having the uniform, machine-made appearance you’d expect from inexpensive sushi joints, the sushi rice here had been carefully moulded by hand. The toppings were also beautifully sliced and presented, with the platter looking like something you’d pay five times as much for at any other sushi restaurant.

▼ In addition to the sushi, the set also came with a drink and a bowl of piping hot miso soup. This was unbelievable value for just 500 yen!

In addition to the 500-yen specials, there was also a wide selection of other meals available at lunchtime. With all but two priced at under 1,000 yen, any of the choices here will be kind on both your tastebuds and your wallet.

While some of us dream of stepping into some of the more expensive sushi bars in town, it doesn’t always translate to excellent value for money. If you’re looking for delicious fresh sushi and amazing value for money, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Utsuki!

Restaurant Information
Sushi Utsuki / 寿司 う月
Address: Tokyo-to, Toshima-ku, Mejiro 3-4-13 B1F
東京都豊島区目白3-4-13 B1F
Open: 11:00 a.m.-11:00p.m.(lunchtime 11:00a.m.-5:00p.m.)
500 yen lunch deal available until 2:00p.m.
[ Read in Japanese ]