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Japanese Food on a Budget

Japanese food in Chiang Mai doesn't have to mean an expensive night out - there are plenty of places that won't break the bank. While they probably wouldn't win any competitions in Japan, these restaurants offer some great values on sushi, ramen, set meals and all your other favorite Japanese food. All of these places are similar prices and will only set you back about 70 to 150 thb per person without drinks, depending largely on how much sushi you order. Check out our picks and let us know if we've missed any at [email protected].

Oh, and here's a hint - if it's available, order the salmon-don or tekkadon (tuna) instead of sashimi or nigiri. It's the same thing, but cheaper.

Tsunami specializes in sushi, with several different kinds of creative rolls made of soft-shell crab, tempura salmon skin and even one with cheese on it. Don't worry though - if innovation in Japanese food isn't your thing, they have plenty of traditional types of sushi. Their katsudon (breaded deep-fried pork on rice) and ramen/udon are great too, but their sets leave something to be desired.

Botan is an unassuming little place that's half on the sidewalk, but the lack of decor is probably what allows them to serve their food at rock-bottom prices. All of their sushi is freshly made with generous portions of fish and they have a lot of sides to go with it (one of our favorites is the fried eggplant, which is 'nasudengaku' on the menu). If you're not into raw fish, the grilled mackeral and beef bowls are a worthy meal.

Gohante is probably the best value on this list, serving a whopping seven pieces of salmon nigiri for only 100 thb. Its cozy interior also lends the the nicest atmosphere. Their menu is enormous, hiding all sorts of obscure dishes, but unfortunately it's only in Thai, Japanese and the roman alphabet. Still, a large part of it has pictures, so don't be intimidated. The ramen here isn't great but everything else is worth the price.

Malin Plaza is actually a market with a few dozen restaurants, but there's an unusually high concentration of cheap Japanese establishments here (don't be fooled by the barbecue restaurants with Japanese on the signs). They're constantly changing names and locations so it's hard to recommend a particular one (though Yatai Ramen has always had a branch), but all of them have menus with big pictures and plenty of table space . Don't forget to check out the back row by the parking lot, too.

This isn't really a full-fledged Japanese restaurant because all they do is yellow Japanese curry, but it's really good, really filling and really cheap. They even do bacon curry with a fried egg on top for less than 45b! This market has a lot of other great cheap eats as well, so it's worth taking a walk around and checking out the other stalls.