The noodles (Photo: Michael Ying)

Abura Soba

Try this tasty, no-soup ramen

The noodles (Photo: Michael Ying)
Michael Ying   - 3 min read

There are so many ramen, udon, and soba shops to choose from in Tokyo. Fatty tonkatsu ramen has taken the world by storm and many tourists come to Japan wanting to taste authentic Japanese noodles. But for the people who live in Japan, ramen may not be such a special experience as it is for the average tourist. With noodle shops at every corner in every town it is almost impossible to choose which kind of noodle shop will be good. 

But another kind of noodle shop has slowly made its way into the noodle craze, and it's called Abura Soba. Literally translating to Oil Noodles, Abura Soba has no soup. Instead, all the ingredients are piled on top of each other and then stirred into a mix. The end result is a refreshing bowl of noodles without the fatty broth. And without the fatty broth, Abura Soba is advertised as a healthier option in place of the extremely unhealthy ramen soup. 

Abura Soba originated in Tokyo sometime in the 1950s and hasn't reached the popularity of ramen or udon. There are many places that serve Abura Soba, the most popular being a chain called Abura Soba (油そば). With locations in Shibuya, Shinjuku, and other popular downtown neighborhoods, Abura Soba is readily available and a quick bite to eat. The stores are the standard noodle experience, mostly a long counter-top with a few tables to serve larger parties. The meal ticket vending machine offers three sizes: normal, large, and wide. Since there is no soup broth that takes hours to make, the cost to make Abura Soba is very cheap, and larger order of noodles are usually served at cheaper prices.

Unlike the dipping noodle dish, Tsukemen, Abura Soba noodles are served warm. The pork grease, oil, and spicy sauce are poured at the bottom of the bowl, with the noodles next, and then topped with green onions, bamboo shoot, chashu pork, and dried sea weed. The condiments on the side are white onions, pepper, oil and vinegar. Extra chashu, eggs, and vegetable toppings can be ordered as well. 

I would highly recommend trying Abura Soba instead of, or in addition to Japanese ramen. It is delicious, healthy, and for the time being, a pretty well-kept secret of Tokyo. 

Michael Ying

Michael Ying @michael.ying

Originally from San Francisco, I graduated from UC Berkeley in 2011 and have been living in Tokyo since 2014. I'm currently a photographer and dancer, and spend most of my free time finding new places to eat. I love it here in Tokyo! Insta: mikemisc