Saturday, April 11, 2015

Abura Gumi (Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku)

東京油組総本店 (西新宿組)
とうきょう あぶらぐみ そう ほんてん
Toukyou Abura Gumi Sou Honten

Abura soba + toppings A: 14 / 20

I wanted to eat a quick bowl somewhere in Western Shinjuku when I stumbled upon this shop of this famous abura soba branch. It had been a while that I wanted to try it, so that looked like the perfect opportunity! Especially given that I wanted to eat several ramen (or ramen-like) dishes in the next days, and abura soba, without soup, is arguably lighter than, say, a triple tonkotsu-torigara-shoyu ramen... You can order the abura soba with customed toppings, or with two sets of toppings, ‘A’ and ‘B’. I chose the former.

Sauce: Good, and as usual, you can help yourself of vinegar and layu.

Noodles: Not so firm and had very little taste by themselves - although that's not really a problem anymore once you have mixed everything.

Egg: A classical half-boiled ontama.

Meat: A few long dice of pork with a classical pork taste, nothing really remarkable.

Toppings: Some warm and crunchy menma, thin and long, not bad. Some nori stripes, and white and green negi - actually too much negi for my taste, the taste was a bit overpowering when finishing the bowl.

As you can see, no ingredient is really exceptional in itself. And yet, once you have vigorously mixed everything and added vinegar (I would not put too much of it) and layu, you get a fairly satisfying mix. I recommend adding some pepper, it is in my view essential to the success of the bowl. The egg taste is very present and I’m not optimistic on the quality of the bowl without it.

In conclusion, this is a convenient and good chain for an introduction to abura soba, before turning towards more elaborated bowls at places like Miharu or Ikaruga. As a note, it is relatively expansive though, at 720 yens for the regular bowl and 180 yens for the toppings - if you stay with the ‘regular’ size, as I always do. Oh, and a note on the counter confirmed to me that compared to ramen, you get proportionally less salt and less fat - that's quite believable in my opinion, and may be something to consider.

More info on ramendb.

Other review: Ramen Adventures. Go Ramen!

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