Fast food Japan: Soba Edition
Fuji Soba is a franchise soba restaurant with over 130 locations across Tokyo and the greater Kanto region. Fuji Soba’s popularity as a fast food soba restaurant has expanded to Asia as well with stores in Jakarta, Taiwan, and the Philippines. Many Fuji Soba restaurants operate 24 hours, and they have kindly made a short video on how to order soba noodles at their restaurant here. Their soba noodles start at just 300 yen (or $3.00 USD) and can add tempura or tofu-skin (Kitsune) for just another 100 yen ($1.00 USD) or so more. Search here for Fuji Soba near Tokyo.
Koromo Soba is also a restaurant group run by Mitsuwa with 76 stores across Tokyo. Their motto, “speedy, cheap, tasty, and clean restaurant” is precisely what you can expect from this soba noodle chain. Like many soba restaurants, it also carries udon, if you are into that. The basic kake-soba starts at just 230 yen (or $2.00 USD) with various options you can add as toppings like tempura or kakiage. They also have set menus that include the soba or udon with a rice menu like Katsudon, while keeping the prices well under 1000 yen. Search here for Komoro Soba near Tokyo.
Yudetaro is the third of the BIG 3 fast soba restaurants in the greater Tokyo area. Yudetaro has the most number of restaurants with over 200 stores across Japan. Their soba noodles starts at 320 yen but their daily special set menu is a bargain at 570 yen (about $5.00 USD). The daily specials menu does change, but depending on the day, it could be a mini pork-katsu bowl, a mini pork curry rice, or mini shrimp-tempura bowl. Yudetaro also serves beer at their restaurants and many stores are open to about 9 or 10pm, making it a casual food option before heading out for the nightlife in Tokyo. Search here for Yudetaro near Tokyo.
Unlike the former three franchises, Sagatani is a relative newcomer to the soba market, but don’t let its age fool you. Sagatani offers soba without any binding agents when mixing buckwheat flour and water. This usually requires skilled chef to make that mix just right, but at Sagatani, machines have perfected the mix and can offer very consistent soba quality. Not only is the soba excellent at Sagatani, but if you are a fan of Japanese curry, try that here as well. Prices start at 320 yen ($3.00 USD) and beers just cost 150 yen ($1.70 USD). Search here for Sagatani near Tkyo.
Yoshi soba operates 14 locations across Tokyo metropolitan area. Its restaurants feature brightly lit stores and seating areas in many places. Another benefit is that 12 out of 14 stores are open 24 hours, and can help satisfy those late night cravings for warm food. Yoshi soba offers both warm and cold soba and udon at their restaurant, and has a special soy sauce broth. Warm kake-soba starts at just 290 yen (less than $3.00 USD), but we’d recommend going with the value sets at the top of the ticket vending machine. Search here for Yoshi Soba near Tokyo.
One thing to remember with all of these restaurants is that they are a fast food joint, where you’d be eating standing. And even if they have seating areas, it would be very limited. Also note that almost all of the restaurants will have a ticket vending machine (usually written in Japanese), so when you are trying to order, it may be hard. Know few basic rules then it will make the ordering process a bit easier. 1. The prices will go up as you have more noodles or toppings on your soba or udon bowl. 2. Most restaurants have a combo option, kind of like a meal option at McDonalds, except, it doesn’t come with fries and coke, but rather with a rice donburi dish like curry or pork katsu. 3. Avoid the peak times. These soba restaurants are a haven for the average working salarymen of Japan. And you will see them packed during lunch hours in the business districts of Shinbashi or Shinjuku. So do yourself (and those salarymen) a favor and avoid going between 11:30 am and 1:30 pm. That way, you don’t have to feel the anxiety as you use Google translate to translate the ticket vending machine and keep people waiting behind you.
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