If you’ve been to a local noodle shop in Japan then you must be familiar with the vending machine system. You go up, put in your money, make a selection, get the ticket, hand it to the person behind the counter and wait for your meal. That’s all pretty standard for food that’s pretty decent. Keep in mind this was among Japanese expectations. But at AFURI, they’ve raised that flavor quality bar while still keeping that familiar routine. They did this with their signature broth, which has that touch of yuzu.
One thing to keep in mind is that these places get pretty busy. You won’t have much time in front of the vending machine making your selection before the eye rolls happen. Or whatever is done to show impatience. So take a look at the menu before stepping up and getting your ticket. I think the main reason they implemented the vending machine is so that you order, then line up and wait for a seat. After sitting, you hand your ticket over and wait for that delicious bowl.
We sat near the back kitchen with a nice view of the charsiu being flamed grilled. What an evil thing to do to a hungry little ox.
There are two other things to be aware of about the ramen. First, the chi-yu, or chicken oil. It came in two varieties. The tanrei was a more balanced oil. The maroaji, on the other hand, was the richer chicken oil. This one gives the bowl a deeper chicken stock taste. You can tell from the picture that they give you a generous amount. The second thing to be aware of, which I missed, was there are different types of ramen noodles for you to choose from. The hoso men (pictured below) was the base noodle. But for an extra fee around ¥200, you can try with the konnyaku or temomi men. Both are substantially different from the hoso men. I will have to try those next time I’m here.
There are several locations throughout Tokyo. And although I really wanted to check out the Ebisu one, with all the gift shopping we wanted to do, this one in the basement of a department store was the most convenient. And it has plenty of air conditioning! I wouldn’t mind coming back to this exact location.
１丁目１−５ ルミネ1 B2F
Shinjuku, Japan, 〒160-0023
Verdict: A chain restaurant that’s very good for a quick site, eat, and continue whatever it was you were doing.