They say in life that there's no such thing as a free lunch, and that much is probably true - but cheap eats can be found all across Japan. One place you can snag yourself an extremely economical lunch in the Minamiuonuma area of Niigata is the International University of Japan's shokudo, the on-campus kitchen which is open not just to enrolled students but to the general public.
With a student body that hails from around 60 nations at any one time, there are various dietary requirements that need to be catered to. The shokudo always has halal options, with around 90% of what is served on campus complying with halal requirements. The shokudo staff have been training for the past six years in halal food preparation, and ensure there is no cross-contamination between any halal and non-halal products.
The best part about the shokudo is the budget-friendly price tag. I've never seen anything on the menu here that topped the 500 yen mark, and the portions are sizeable. The menu changes daily and incorporates food from different corners of the globe, which is one of the perks of the international environment here! Alongside all of the main dishes there are plenty of sides to choose from, including handmade yogurt which is prepared fresh on a daily basis.
Lunch is served at the shokudo between 11:30 am and 1:30 pm (last orders at 1:15 pm) and dinner from 5:30 pm until 8 pm (last orders at 7:45 pm).