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Our staff recommendation: Aburasoba!

TOKYO-Food & Drinks

The world of Japanese cuisine is as vast and diverse as the streets of Tokyo, and one of the most fascinating yet lesser-known delights is aburasoba (油そば). You may not have heard of this culinary gem yet, but get ready for a gastronomic journey that will leave you wondering why foreigners haven’t embraced this marvel sooner. From its origin in Japan to its place at the heart of Tokyo, we’ll discover what makes aburasoba so special, and in the end, I’ll reveal my favorite aburasoba restaurant where you can savor it in all its glory.

Origin of Abura Soba

Before we dive into the world of aburasoba, let’s take a look at its humble origins. Aburasoba, which translates literally as “oily noodles,” is a unique variation of ramen that originated in Japan.

Abura soba, also known as mazesoba, is a Japanese noodle dish without broth that is believed to have originated in Tokyo in the 1950s. There are two theories about its origin:

  • The most popular theory holds that abura soba originated at ramen stalls in Tokyo. In the 1950s, street food was a popular way to eat in Tokyo, and ramen stalls were very common. Sometimes, ramen vendors would run out of broth, so they would sell the noodles without broth. These brothless noodles quickly became a hit, and soon restaurants dedicated to abura soba opened up.
  • Another theory holds that abura soba originated in Japanese homes. During World War II, food was scarce in Japan. To save food, some families began to prepare noodles with oil and other ingredients. These noodles became popular in the postwar period, and soon restaurants offering them opened up.

Regardless of its origin, abura soba has become a popular dish in Japan. It can be found all over the country, and there are many restaurants that specialize in this dish.

Traditional abura soba ingredients include:

  • Soba noodles
  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame oil
  • Menma (fermented bamboo shoots)
  • Nori (seaweed)
  • Green onion

The noodles are served on a plate and topped with the soy sauce, sesame oil, and the other ingredients. The dish is mixed well before eating.

A Touch of Curiosity

Now that we know about its origins, what makes aburasoba so special? One of the most notable quirks is the variety of flavors and textures that meld into a single bowl. The blend of sauces and oils creates a profoundly umami flavor that’s as satisfying as it is addictive. Additionally, the dry noodles absorb the flavor mix, making each bite a unique culinary experience.

Another intriguing feature of aburasoba is its presentation. When you’re served a bowl of aburasoba, you’ll encounter a pile of noodles with an enticing appearance. Then,encouraged to mix the noodles with the souce yourself. Yes, you’re the chef of your aburasoba bowl! This adds a personal touch to the meal and allows you to adjust the amount of yolk you prefer in your dish.


Embracing Aburasoba in Taitoku and Beyond

Now that you know a bit more about this culinary wonder, let’s talk about my favorite aburasoba restaurant in Taito-ku (and indeed, all of Tokyo). If you ever get the chance to explore this exciting district in Tokyo, make sure to visit “Aburarakucho (油楽町),” a hidden gem that’s bound to leave you spellbound.

Adress: 1F, Brooklyn, 5-1-9 Higashiueno, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-0015

Map : Aburarakucho

Just 1 min from Shitaya Shrine (which has a beautiful red torii gate and is worth visiting), Aburarakucho takes pride in offering authentic aburasoba that will keep you coming back for more. From the moment you step inside, you’re immersed in a unique gastronomic experience. The ambiance is cozy and authentic, with friendly staff to guide you through the process of customizing your meal.

Here’s how you can enjoy your Aburasoba:

  • Start by savoring the dish in its original form, without adding any condiments or toppings. This allows you to appreciate the base flavors of the dish.
  • Next, sprinkle some green onions over your Aburasoba and mix them in. Try it now with the added freshness and aroma of green onions.
  • If you’re looking for a bolder flavor, you can add minced garlic to your dish (highly recommended!). Mix it in and enjoy the robust taste it brings.
  • For those who love a spicy kick, you can finish your meal by adding a drizzle of spicy chili oil. This will add some heat to your Aburasoba for an extra layer of excitement.
  • As you near the end of your dish and still have some noodles left, consider adding a cup of chicken broth to the remaining contents. Mix it in and enjoy it as a soup, adding a new dimension to the dish.

The combination of carefully selected ingredients, special sauces, and high-quality noodles makes each bite a genuine sensory pleasure. Plus, if you’re a beer lover, don’t miss out on the selection of Japanese beers that pair perfectly with aburasoba.

If you ever find yourself in Taito-ku, don’t hesitate to visit Aburarakucho to experience this delight at its finest. Your palate will thank you, and who knows, you might just become a bona fide aburasoba addict!


The Journey of an Aburasoba Bowl: Beyond Taitoku

While Aburarakucho is my favorite aburasoba restaurant in Taitoku, there are countless places throughout Tokyo and in Japan where you can enjoy this delightful dish. As you explore the capital of Japan, keep in mind that small eateries, often tucked away in narrow alleyways and away from touristy areas, are where you’ll often find the most authentic flavors.

In Tokyo, you’ll find aburasoba in all its forms and variations. Some places specialize in unique flavors, such as spicy aburasoba or versions that incorporate unusual ingredients like corn or cheese. Others focus on tradition, keeping the classic recipe intact for decades. No matter where you venture, surprise and satisfaction are always just around the corner.

One curious fact about aburasoba is that, despite being so beloved in Japan, it hasn’t achieved the same global fame as ramen or sushi. But that just means that those of us who’ve discovered it can enjoy it in relative peace, without hordes of tourists crowding the restaurants. Seize this opportunity before the secret fully unfolds.

In the last decade, some aburasoba restaurants have started expanding internationally, taking this dish beyond Japan’s borders. So, who knows, in the not-so-distant future, you might find yourself face-to-face with a bowl of aburasoba in your hometown. In the meantime, I urge you to do everything you can to taste it in its place of origin.


Aburasoba is one of the lesser-known culinary gems of Japan, but it’s one that deserves to be discovered and appreciated. With its intriguing origin, unique flavor, and customization options, aburasoba offers a culinary experience that’s hard to beat.

If you ever have the chance to visit Tokyo, be sure to seek out an authentic aburasoba restaurant and immerse yourself in this culinary delight. If you’re in Taitoku, my choice is Aburarakucho, but don’t hesitate to explore and find your own favorite.

So, whether you’re strolling the bustling streets of Tokyo or in your hometown, aburasoba is waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. Don’t let its relative obscurity deter you from relishing this gastronomic wonder. Who knows, you might find aburasoba becoming your new favorite dish!!!