When the fun and games are over and the hangover starts calling at 3am, few things are better for your soul than a janky bowl of ramen. Roast Beef Abura Soba Beefst in Shinjuku is the place to head to for your messy late-night noodle fix.
Abura soba with 90g of beef, a soft-boiled egg, grilled aubergine, Japanese leeks, and coriander. - image © Florentyna Leow
When it comes to Japanese noodle dishes, abura soba - literally ‘oil noodles’ - is overshadowed by ramen. That’s a shame, because it’s in some cases almost better than soup ramen. It’s basically ramen noodles without the broth. Thick, curly, springy noodles dressed with a heavy slick of oil (it’s fat; call a spade a spade) and sauces, not unlike Southeast Asian ‘dry’ noodles or an amped-up aglio olio.
The interior of the restaurant. - image © Florentyna Leow
Abura Soba Beefst’s main shtick is a gloriously slurpable bowl of noodles topped with roast beef. It might not seem authentic, but that isn’t the point at Abura Soba Beefst. This is a fusion-ish spin on abura soba, which in itself is a fairly recent addition to Japan’s noodle pantheon. It is hard to argue with flavour.
English menus available. Pay before you take a seat. - image © Florentyna Leow
Customizing noodle bowls is great; it’s like an edible Choose Your Own Adventure. The only fixed factors are the noodles and the roast beef. You’ll decide the rest: the sauce base, the amount of beef, the toppings. You can make it as spare or as over-the-top as you please. I recommend going overboard - it’s the only way to go.
The soy sauce base will give you a more ‘Japanese’ tasting bowl, a little smoky and salty, but the cream base will turn this into a carbonara-esque bowl, especially if you add the ’spa-boiled’ egg topping. What am I saying? The egg is non-negotiable.
An illustrated how-to-eat chart. - image © Florentyna Leow
It seems to me a rather Japanese approach to have instructions on how to eat your noodles, but in this restaurant’s case I think it’s fairly warranted to cover all the flavor bases of eating this bowl.
A slice of roast beef made from top blade muscle - image © Florentyna Leow
First, eat a slice of soy-drizzled roast beef on its own. You want to taste the cow before it’s covered in oils and sauces. The slices are lean and juicy, with little fat. It tastes like proper beef, like the cow had some time to run around in pastures before dying for your pleasure.
Stirring the noodles. - image © Florentyna Leow
Then you stir. Break the egg and let the yolk coat the noodles. Dig your chopsticks in and make sure all the oil and sauces coat each strand evenly. Start slurping. Ask for paper aprons or hair ties if you need to.
In terms of toppings, additional leafy toppings aren’t completely necessary, but they do offset the heaviness of the noodles. Finely julienned negi (Japanese leek) and a handful of coriander will do you good. Grilled aubergine chunks are kind of over-the-top but I loved them. Spicy miso (called ‘spicy ball’ on the English menu) will up the ante further.
Junk powder and stem wasabi relish. - image © Florentyna Leow
A few slurps in, start adding condiments. Stem wasabi relish gives you the sweet, vegetal presence of wasabi without the nose-flaring heat. A slosh of vinegar and chili oil adds a mild but bracing sharpness to the noodles, lifting it up just when the oil is starting to wear heavy on your palate. My favourite, though, is the junk powder - a crunchy mix of crushed garlicky deep-fried onions that’s pure crack shot through with MSG. MSG is the reality of eating at ramen places in Japan - get used to it!
If you have leftover tare at the bottom of the bowl, you can ask for rice to soak up the remaining sauce. But you should be so lucky to have that extra stomach space!
Shower on that junk powder. - image © Florentyna Leow
The word that kept coming to mind as I was slurping was ‘janky,’ at times even ‘janky-ass.’ (Urban dictionary defines it variously as inferior quality, cheap ass, and questionable.) But no single element of the bowl was bad or inferior - quite the opposite. The noodles are textbook perfect for abura soba, as was the dressing, and the roast beef is a thing of joy. Maybe it was the liberal spoons of ‘junk powder’ (which appears as ‘jank powder’ in katakana script) I heaped onto the noodles. More likely it was the ugly-delicious factor, the messiness of it all, the way you can concentrate wholly on eating, splashing sauce without abandon when you’re slurping noodles alone.
More junk from that trunk… of powder. - image © Florentyna Leow
‘Janky' is hardly a bad thing in my book; slurping abura soba is trashy, delicious, and enjoyable in that late-night, single-and-eating-alone kind of way. When the fun and games are over and the hangover starts calling at 3am, few things ease the regret in your soul than a janky bowl of roast beef abura soba.
The entrance to the restaurant - image © Florentyna Leow
Directions: from the East Exit of Shinjuku Station, walk to the crossing. Cross the street (and don’t go underneath the train tracks), heading towards Kabukicho. Cross the large road at the traffic lights. Don Quijote will be on your right. Take a left and walk down the street parallel. At the end, you’ll see a flashy looking store with red curtains. Abura Soba Beefst is on the ground floor of the building two doors to its right - look for the sleek wooden paneling and sandwich board outside.
Roast Beef Abura Soba Beast
Name in Japanese:
ローストビーフ油そば ビースト 歌舞伎町本店
1F Suzuki Building, 2-37-2 Kabukicho, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo
東京都新宿区歌舞伎町2-37-2 鈴木ビル 1F
11:00am - 8:00am (the following day)
Train: 6-minute walk from East Exit of Shinjuku Station on the JR, Odakyu, and Keio Lines. 3-minute walk from Seibu-Shinjuku Station.
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