Wednesday, April 26, 2006

★★★ ぶぶか (Bubuka) - Tokyo

Bubuka serves a very unique type of ramen call 油そば (abura soba) or oily noodles, it was first invented in Tokyo back in the 1950's and its recipe has spread modestly througout the city. Abura-soba is basically ramen noodles and toppings with no soup, instead you have a thick, oily, soy sauce based sauce that is like a condensed version of ramen soup. The sauce is served at the bottom of the ramen bowl, with the noodles and toppings on top. You mix the noodles well with the sauce before eating it. This day I ordered the ネギ油そば (green onion abura-soba).

The Soup - well, there is none. The sauce, however, is very thick, rich and oily. Probably a mixture of soy sauce, lard, a trace of tonkotsu soup, maybe a little bit of vinegar, and ground sesame. When they served the ramen they also gave me a large bottle of red chile oil, which went really well with the ramen.

The Noodles - were very, very thick and cooked very firm. One of the signs they had in the store read: "Please be patient. Our noodles are very thick and take a long time to cook." and they weren't lying. These were the chewiest ramen noodles I have ever had. The oily sauce clings to the noodles easily so every bite was filled rich flavor that you thoroughly experience from all the chewing required. This is definitely not the type of noodle where you can chew 2-3 times and swallow, quite the excersize for your jaw.

The Toppings - are dissapointing. The cha-shu pork was served cold and hard. The negi green onions and menma bamboo were average.

Overall - I loved it, but abura-soba is not for everyone. The thick flavorful sauce and thick noodles is like the ultimate comfort food with all the guilty pleasures that comes from a dish filled with fat and carbs. In some ramen communities people refer to abura-soba as a "second-class" food, which makes me adore it even more. (I heard hamburgers were once considered as "second-class" when it was first invented, and yes, I adore burgers too). There is a Bubuka store near JR Takadanobaba or at Kitsujoji on the JR chuo line.


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