Japan – Tokyo: The Best Abura Soba Restaurants Near Waseda University


Eiri is a Waseda University student in Tokyo, Japan, and one of her passions is performing with the Waseda Dance Club. A close second (at least from my impression) is enjoying Japanese noodles: abura soba and ramen! Eiri was more than willing to share with me her top three noodle restaurants in the Tokyo district around Waseda University, after extensive (and delicious) research on her part.

Keep reading to learn a little bit about Waseda University from Eiri, or skip down to see her abura soba restaurant recommendations!

Author photo - Eiri Nozaki

Eiri Nozaki

Years Lived in Tokyo: 16
Hobbies/Interests: Dancing, eating noodles (usually not at the same time)

Table of Contents

    Waseda University

    How long have you attended Waseda and what is your major?

    I entered university in April of 2018 and study political science.

    Why did you choose to attend this university? Anything unique or special about it that non-Japanese people might not know or might find interesting?

    Waseda University students have a reputation for being smart and unique! And they famously love their school. There’s a saying that goes, “Waseda University’s school song is our second national anthem.” 😂 In November of every year, Waseda hosts large festivals on campus. Over a period of two days, around 180,000 people attend. I would say the festival became more and more amazing over time because of how much Waseda students care about their university. There’s always a lot of entertainment organized by students every festival: dancing performances, music, food… my first experience at a Waseda festival left me impressed by the students’ “Waseda soul” and that’s one reason I chose to attend the university. I love Waseda students’ passion!

    If you were taking your friends on a campus tour, what are some of the highlights? Which spots on campus are your favorite and why?

    The statue of Shigenobu Okuma is very famous and worth a look if you’re visiting the Waseda campus. He was the Prime Minister of Japan from 1914 to 1916 and the founder of Waseda University.

    Okuma Auditorium is a landmark and symbol of Waseda University. It is big and beautiful – you can’t miss it! Other universities in Japan don’t commonly have an auditorium like this. You can find many souvenirs and products displaying images of Okuma Auditorium.

    Okuma Auditorium
    Okuma Auditorium at Waseda University.

    Each major department has its own building. In particular, the Waseda School of Political Science and Economics (my major) has an amazing building! It’s quite tall (14 floors) and has both an escalator and an elevator, so you won’t need to climb many stairs. You can see visiting information and a map here: https://www.waseda.jp/fpse/pse/en/access/

    Do you need to be student to enter the places above? Which places/buildings can you see without a student ID? Are there campus tours available for visitors?

    Anyone can enter campus but to for library access, people need to have a valid student ID (IDs are scanned and the entrance gate opens). Actually, the library at Waseda is quite large and contains many old and important volumes. Aside from the library, access is mostly unrestricted, so you can enter and explore buildings around campus. I would just suggest that you don’t enter classroom during class sessions! 😂

    Abura Soba versus Ramen

    I think many people are familiar with ramen, but not so much with abura soba – can you describe it and compare it to ramen?

    Ramen contains soup but abura soba doesn’t! This is the main difference. Instead of soup, there is a little bit of oil at the bottom of a bowl of abura soba (the literal translation of abura soba is “oil noodles”). In abura soba, the flavor of broth is removed and the flavors of the seasoning, fat and egg come out more. So, after your noodles are served, you have to mix the oil and noodles before eating. Mix, mix, mix!!!! And then taste it 😋

    Abura Soba


    Comparison of abura soba1 and ramen.2

    After you eat some of the noodles from the dish, you can then add chili oil, vinegar, black pepper, or Japanese pepper (sansho) to taste. They should all be provided at your table, so add as many condiments as you want. It’s really, really delicious!!!! 😋 My favorite method is first adding some Japanese peppers and then eating part of the dish. Then, add both chili oil and vinegar, and finish the bowl. Try it this way and you won’t be disappointed! There are so many great abura soba shops near the university that this dish has become a signature staple of Waseda students. Here are my top recommended abura soba restaurants near Waseda University:

    Restaurant #1: Menji Restaurant (麺爺)

    Name of restaurant:
    Menji Restaurant (麺爺)

    Restaurant address:
    〒162-0042 東京都新宿区早稲田町69−4

    Google Maps: English | Japanese

    Open for lunch, dinner, or both?

    How do I get there from Waseda campus?

    The restaurant is about a five minute walk from the main university campus, near Waseda Station (a short block down and opposite the street from exit 3a).

    From Waseda University South Gate, cross Sodai-nammon-dori road and keep going straight (you can walk down the alley right in front of South Gate or on the parallel road just to left). At the next main road, make a right and you will come to Menji on the left (you’ll need to cross the street first).

    Google Maps walking directions from campus: https://goo.gl/maps/zFb36y75YUdNZumF6

    What is the restaurant’s specialty? What do most people order?

    You have several options for noodles: Black Abura Soba (soy sauce seasoning base), White Abura Soba (salt seasoning base), and Red Abura Soba (spicy seasoning base).

    Abura soba meal at Menji Restaurant

    Each abura soba dish has different recommended toppings/condiments. For example:

    • Any abura soba – vinegar and chili oil
    • White abura soba – ponzu sauce (ポン酢)

    ★ These are just the restaurant’s recommendations, so you can make your own original abura soba by mixing any condiments you like with Black, White or Red abura soba. There are eight different toppings/condiments to choose from!

    What do you personally recommend?

    White abura soba with ponzu sauce (ポン酢)

    I like this dish because it’s not too oily! Ponzu sauce is a very famous Japanese condiment, similar to soy sauce but with a tangy citrus flavor. Ponzu can be found in every home in Japan.

    What’s the atmosphere like?

    Menji’s interior is more spacious than a typical Tokyo ramen restaurant, which makes it great for larger groups. There is a lot of table seating available in addition to one-person seating capacity.

    Meal with woman at Menji Restaurant
    Man eating abura soba at Menji Restaurant

    Anything else you’d like to tell us about this restaurant?

    This place is so cheap! Only 500 yen (about 5 U.S. dollars) for a meal! So, definitely give it a shot! If you are hungry and want to eat a lot, ordering the large size abura soba is good idea!!

    Restaurant #2: Zuboshi Hanare (図星はなれ)

    Name of restaurant:
    Zuboshi Hanare (図星はなれ)

    Restaurant address:
    〒169-0051 東京都新宿区西早稲田1丁目1−8

    Google Maps: English | Japanese

    Open for lunch, dinner, or both?

    Abura soba at Zuboshi Hanare

    How do I get there from Waseda campus?

    Zuboshi Hanare is a 3 minute walk from the main Waseda campus. Starting from South Gate, make a right onto Sodai-nammon-dori road in the direction of Waseda Station. After a couple minutes’ walk (before reaching the next major intersection), you will see a sign for the restaurant (black with gold lettering) on your right.

    Google Maps walking directions from campus: https://goo.gl/maps/LhTaak3pVxqouWRW6

    What is the restaurant’s specialty? What do most people order?

    This is another great spot to try abura soba! Here, their dishes are topped with roast pork and bamboo shoots. Also available is seasonal shaved ice, which you won’t find at other abura soba restaurants!!

    Strawberry flavor shaved ice at Zuboshi Hanare
    Green tea flavor shaved ice at Zuboshi Hanare

    What do you personally recommend?

    I recommend adding even more bamboo shoot topping because I love it. Also, you can add rice to your dish after finishing the noodles. 100% of Waseda students order this!!! Just ask the restaurant staff (it’s even free if you are a student).

    What’s the atmosphere like?

    The restaurant has a casual feel but you won’t be able to stay seated for a long time as you would at a typical ramen restaurant. Zuboshi Hanare is very new and clean.

    Friends seated at Zuboshi Hanare

    Anything else you’d like to tell us about this restaurant?

    I like this restaurant’s Japanese pepper (sansho) so I always use a lot! Also, this restaurant’s oil has a lighter taste than many other restaurants – I recommend trying it out!

    Restaurant #3: Musashino Abura Gakkai (武蔵野アブラ学会)

    Name of restaurant:
    Musashino Abura Gakkai (武蔵野アブラ学会)

    Restaurant address:
    〒169-0051 東京都新宿区西早稲田1丁目18−12

    Google Maps: English | Japanese

    Open for lunch, dinner, or both?
    Both. (Open until 2 am!!)

    How do I get there from Waseda campus?

    This restaurant’s about a 7 minute walk from Waseda main campus (about 2 minutes from North Gate). Starting from North Gate, turn right and head straight on Ground-zaka-dori road until you reach the next major intersection (the cross street is Okuma-dori). Don’t cross the street but turn left around the corner and you will find Musashino Abura Gakkai on the left (it’s right on the corner at the intersection with the next main road).

    Google Maps walking directions from campus: https://goo.gl/maps/cGMXpERSPVGe6enCA

    What is the restaurant’s specialty? What do most people order?

    If it’s your first time eating here, try the Musashino Kei Abura soba (武蔵野系油そば). Foodies who are experienced with abura soba also like to order the Tokunou Abura soba (特濃油そば). You can’t go wrong with either one!

    What do you personally recommend?

    Whichever dish you choose, I recommend adding a seasoned egg!!! They are really good!!

    Abura soba with seasoned egg at Musashino Abura Gakkai

    What’s the atmosphere like?

    The restaurant is very old and small, but you have the option to sit on a tatami mat if you’re with a group. But it’s a great place to dine solo as well!

    Anything else you’d like to tell us about this restaurant?

    The flavor of the dishes at Musashino Abura Gakkai is really much stronger than at most other abura soba restaurants!! Once you try it, you’ll start to develop a taste for it – I’m addicted to it now!

    Abura soba dish at Musashino Abura Gakkai

    1 Photo credit: GREGORIUZ on VisualHunt
    2 Photo by Susann Schuster on Unsplash
    Featured image photo by Karen Tsoi on Unsplash

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