Is Nomihodai Really Cost-effective In Japan?

The all-you-can-drink plan, known as “Nomihodai” in Japan, is common in many Japanese pubs, and some of you might have tried it several times. But there is one question. Is “Nomihodai” really worth in the first place? In fact, there are quite a few Japanese people who actually don’t like the Nomihodai plan, but why?

Why People Don’t Like Nomihodai

Poor Quality Drinks

Some pubs offer very diluted drinks to reduce the cost so that they can provide an unlimited amount. Of course, such beverages don’t taste good. Some of them make you feel like you’re drinking a soft drink.

Can’t Drink So Much

Japanese people have a relatively low tolerance for alcohol in their DNA. And it’s not only about the Japanese. If you can’t hold alcohol a lot, Nomihodai may not be for you.


As per my experience, restaurants or pubs that offer Nomihodai plans tend to have a noisy atmosphere because there are many young people in large groups. You want to drink a lot, but you also want to relax and enjoy a quiet conversation. If that’s the case, it’s probably better to avoid the places offering Nomihodai.

How Much You Should Drink

To enjoy the benefits of Nomihodai, how much should we drink? In my hometown Osaka, it costs around 1,500 yen for 2 hours all-you-can-drink option. And the price of a glass of alcohol is usually about 400 yen on average. So, it means you’ll get your money’s worth if you drink more than four glasses. Yes, it’s quite simple, but most restaurants add a little cumbersome rule to it.

Checklist Before Opting For Nomihodai


Does Nomihodai plan include a beer?

A typical case is that the Nomihodai plan doesn’t include beer and other high-cost drinks. Even if beer is listed on the list, it is most likely to be low-malt beer. You should check if the menu includes the alcohol you want to drink.

Do you have to order two dishes compulsorily?

If customers leave after only drinking, the pubs can’t make a profit. So they usually ask for a minimum of two food orders per person (If you go with a group of three, you have to order six dishes in total.). When you don’t have much of an appetite, it’s probably better not to take it. 

Time limit

The time limit for Nomihodai is usually two hours. However, the last order is 30 minutes before, so you have 90 minutes to order your drinks at your leisure.

Anyone doesn’t drink in your group?

If you or anyone in your group does not drink alcohol, you should not opt for Nomihodai. When adding that, it is usually necessary for the whole group to take the plan, but it is a waste of money for those who don’t drink.

What About Tabehodai with Nomihodai?

Similar to Nomihodai, the “Tabehodai (all-you-can-eat)” plan also has specific rules. You may only be able to order a limited number of dishes. Or the restaurants serve a few dishes at the beginning, and you can order what you want only after finishing all of them.


If you want to enjoy delicious Izakaya food with nice drinks fully, I recommend not to take the Nomihodai plan. Having said that, if you’re going to have a lot of fun and drink a lot at a big nomikai, you may take it.


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