Updated: December 26, 2019
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Soba Meets Ramen at 'Fukuro,' a Favorite Lunch Spot in West Shinjuku


If you're a fan of ramen, but you also like the wonderful texture and flavor of soba noodles (which are healthier anyway), then you'll love the 'niku soba' at Fukuro in West Shinjuku. Check it out the next time you're searching for lunch in the area!

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Introducing Niku Soba

Fukuro is a noodle restaurant located next to Shinjuku Chuo Park, among the skyscrapers of West Shinjuku's business district. It's a very popular lunch spot for the many business people working in the area, thanks to their delicious bowl of noodles called 'niku soba' (肉そば = meat soba in Japanese). Niku soba is basically ramen with soba (buckwheat) noodles instead of normal ramen noodles (made from wheat).
The soba noodles at Fukuro are a bit thicker than standard soba noodles and have an almost smoky flavor and a wonderful chewiness to them. Typical ramen noodles are delicious, but far from healthy (they're made from white flour, so what do you expect?). Soba noodles, on the other hand, are filled with protein, minerals, and other nutrients, and actually have a similar nutritional profile to whole wheat spaghetti. Also, they don't make you feel heavy or bloated after you eat them, meaning you can enjoy a full bowl of noodles are still feel great afterwards.

Visiting Fukuro

Fukuro is located next to Shinjuku's Chuo Park (next to the iconic Metropolitan Government building with the two tall towers) in west Shinjuku. The closest stations are Tochomae or Nishi Shinjuku Stations, otherwise, it's about a 15 to 20-minute walk from Shinjuku Station. The shop doesn't have any English outside, so look for the building shown in the picture above.

First, buy a meal ticket

Just like at a ramen shop, the food at Fukuro is ordered using a ticket purchased from this vending machine right inside the door. Luckily, there are pictures on the buttons for those of us who don't speak Japanese. The pink-colored buttons are hot soba, while the white ones are cold. If you're unsure, the staff can help you, although their English is minimal.
This is the standard cold niku soba, for ¥750. The bowl comes with a pile of green onions and several slices of roast chicken. It also comes with a bowl of white rice, which is optional. They will ask you if you'd like the rice or not when you hand in your ticket. If you want more toppings like an egg, wontons, or more chicken, make sure to order separate tickets from the vending machine.
I live in west Tokyo and spend most of my time thinking about food or going bouldering.

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