UPDATE: I met a new friend recently who had lived in Japan for a few years, and had the same passion as me for tsukemen and abura soba. During our many conversations, she tried to convince me that Yasubee was the best tsukemen she has ever had, but I was not convinced. Having tried many, many high quality tsukemen, I couldn't believe Yasubee was her #1. So I had to try it again for myself.
As I mentioned in the original posting below, I was quite a tsukemen newb when I first visited Yasubee. To the point I didn't even know how to order egg or charshu. This around, I knew what I was doing, and I wasn't going to mess around.
This time I followed my friend's suggestion, and ordered the original flavor. Once again, it looked lighter than the usual tonkotsu gyokai (豚骨魚介) soup, even light than the miso version I got. I became suspicious about my friend's opinion for this place.
The tamago here is a bit dried out, but very typical nowadays for tsukemen shops. Very few shops are able to make the egg with the liquidy yolk.
The tokuse (特製) set of topping also included something I have never seen. Stir fried bean spouts, which was a nice touch. I wasn't sure whether I was suppose to add this into the soup, or just eat it separately. But I love bean spouts, and this was kudo points for Yasubee.
The noodles here was never a complaint. Nicely cooked, very chewy, very good quality noodles for tsukemen.
The charshu was a bit on the weak side. It was sliced a bit too think, a bit too soft (fell apart), but it wasn't bad. I've had better charshu for sure.
But with that said. After I took my first bite... OH MY GOD! I finally understood what my friend was talking about. Maybe she and I have similar tastes in food (I am starting to believe in that now), but the soup base had a little bit of a vinegary taste to it, which I absolutely loved. This was not the highest quality tsukemen I've had, but neither is Ichiran nor Abura Soba. And while I love a good steak or lobster, sometimes you just want "soul food", and Yasubee is just that.
And since there is a Yasubee just minutes walk from the Hilton Tokyo in Shinjuku, you can believe I will be visiting again, and again... :-)
Walking in the streets of Shinjuku, you can't help but notice the amount of people that walk around the station area. Just one block away from south exit, I noticed a shop with a line outside. This had to be a good thing, and it definitely caught my curiosity and attention.
At the time I tried Yasubee, I had tsukemen fever. After having tsukemen a few times, I quickly understood why people in Tokyo were so crazy about it. My impression of Japanese food was always been that it was healthy and light, but after thinking about it, maybe it ain't so. From heavy flavored curry, tonkatsu, to ramen, it was evident that Japanese people had just as much craving for savory food.
As I walked over to shop at 2:30pm, I was amazed at how many people were in line. Sure it was a Saturday, but I can only imagine what this place is like during normal feeding hours.
The great thing about some tsukemen shops is that no matter what size you order, small, medium, or large, they charge you the same amount. This was such an attractive feature for someone with my appetite.
Yasubee in Shinjuku is not a large shop. Just the bar area which seats about 10 people if I remember correctly.
And here comes the soup. It looked lighter than most tsukemen tonkotsu gyokai (豚骨魚介) soups, so it was a bit different than what I had expected. It was even a bit translucent (not noticeable from the picture). Also, the soup came with sprinkles of sesame seeds, which was interesting.
Noodles are done very well here. As you can see the texture and thickness is just like all the great tsukemen shops, and the chewiness was also as good as expected.
The egg here is a bit dried out, but with the amount of people that plan to dine here, it would be nearly impossible to make them fresh. Eggs are usually prepared ahead of time, but that doesn't mean it's not good.
As you can see in the picture, the sesame seeds are plentiful. It didn't add anything for me, but I am sure the recipe calls for it for a reason.
Perhaps my favorite picture is always after dipping the noodles in the soup. Just looking at it makes me hungry. If you haven't noticed, something is missing from the pictures I've included here. The charshu. That isn't to say Yasubee doesn't offer it, but at the time, with my limited understanding of the Japanese language, I really didn't know what I was ordering. So I blindly took the first option and of course had food envy as I watched all the others eat their tsukemen with charshu. If I ever go back, I will not make the same mistake.
I won't call this my favorite tsukemen shops, and there are indeed better shops around. But with 9 shops around Tokyo, this place offers quality tsukemen at a very reasonable price. If the line isn't too long, I definitely recommend this place for a try.
City: Tokyo, Japan
Location: Numerous locations in the city
Hours: Varies by location
Ordering system: Machine
Available in English: Minimal