If you want to eat noodles, Japan in general, and Tokyo in particular, are paradise. There are many varieties to choose from, not only when it comes to the type of noodle but also when it comes to the ingredients of the soup, options for toppings, and the way the noodles are prepared. One type of noodles most tourists haven’t heard about yet is aburasoba, which literally means ‘oily noodles’. Unlike the way noodles are usually prepared, abura soba has no soup. Instead, all the ingredients are stacked on top of each other and then mixed. The end result is a refreshing bowl of noodles and toppings without the fatty broth. And so, aburasoba is promoted as the healthier option compared to traditional ramen with soup.
Aburasoba originated in Tokyo, sometime in the 1950s but has not reached the popularity of ramen or udon. Aburasoba first appeared in the Kitatama district. There are some popular food chains in the Kanto area that specialize in this type of noodles, and their popularity is still growing. Aburasoba is relatively easy to make since it does not require a soup base that takes half a day to prepare. Therefore, more and more ramen stores offer aburasoba as an alternative menu option.
Where to Eat Aburasoba?
Among the most reputable places that serve aburasoba is a chain called Abura Soba (油そば). With locations in Shibuya, Shinjuku, and other popular neighborhoods downtown Abura Soba is easy to find, and it became a popular option for a quick bite as it does not contain broth, it is served faster. The restaurants have the standard appearance of other restaurants specialized in noodles, with some small tables and a long bar for smaller groups of people or people who eat alone. The food ticket vending machine offers three sizes: normal, large, and wide.
Unlike tsukemen noodles, aburasoba is served hot. Pork fat, oil, and hot sauce are poured into the bottom of the bowl, along with the noodles, and then topped with green onions, bamboo shoots, pork, and dried seaweed. Condiments are usually white onions, pepper, oil, and vinegar. Other common but optional additions include sesame, black pepper, spicy preserved vegetables, very chopped garlic, red ginger, cooked egg, raw egg, cheese, mayonnaise, and spicy condiments such as ichi-mi (chili powder) or even toubanjan (Chinese seasoning). A bowl of aburasoba can be completely customized, so you can enjoy it as you like.
If you are fond of noodles and want to try something different, why not try some aburasoba while you are in Tokyo?