Like many foreigners before me, I have discovered the joys of Japan's nomihoudai and tabehoudai culture - bars and restaurants that offer 'all-you-can-drink' and 'all-you-can-eat' for a cheap price. And when I say cheap, I mean $15 for two hours of unlimited eating/drinking. My favourite economic analysis of this system is from Ryan at Ryman in Japan: "It's like I'm making money!"
|"You're practically making money!"|
I think there's something about Japanese culture that makes nomihoudai and tabehoudai work, too. I don't want to generalise, but most Japanese people are so polite and trustworthy that they don't treat it so much as a binge-drinking/pig-out sesh as, perhaps, we do. I've read that some places in Tokyo have an unofficial 'no foreigners' policy, because of bad experiences with people taking advantage of the system and going absolutely bananas. Which I can relate to. At our first tabehoudai, we acted like starving Ethiopian children tasting food for the first time. 7 pizzas and 4 pastas later...
If you're in Japan and want to give nomihoudai and tabehoudai a go, look for this kanji: 飲み放題 (nomihoudai - all you can drink)、食べ放題 (tabehoudai - all you can eat). Some places even have both, at the same time! For food, I recommend 'Shakey's' (Pizza and pasta, found pretty much everywhere in Japan), and 'Sweets Paradise' (all-you-can-eat sweets, but with some pasta dishes too).