You guys have no idea how excited I am about this post.
Like, on a scale of one to the GIF of Jonah Hill screaming, I’m probably Jonah Hill + 5 right now.
The other day, the super chill guys over at Yamatoten Abura Soba invited me over to try their new menu at their new store in Grand Indonesia’s East Mall. If you’re too lazy to actually read, drool at the pictures then scroll down to see my Yamatoten Grand Indonesia Cheet Sheet.
Yamatoten prides itself on being the first to bring the abura soba concept to Indonesia.
Abura/oil (油) + soba/noodle (そば) = abura soba / noodle with oil sauce (油そば)
Indonesians know soba as thin noodles served on ice accompanied by a cool broth, but actually the word soba in Japan just means noodle. But what about ramen? Well, ramen (ラーメン) is soba too. In fact, some people still call it chūka soba (中華そば) which means Chinese noodle.
The abura soba concept actually developed in 1952, when the kitchen staff of a local ramen shop decided to change up the recipe for their staff lunches to cut costs, but instead found themselves with a very popular dish their customers loved! The popularity eventually died down, but Superhero cum Chef Yamamoto saved this dish and made it popular again.
What makes Yamatoten so different is that it’s the only restaurant in Indonesia that specialises in abura soba. But it’s also one of the only restaurants I know that serve soba hot!
Their soba is freshly made in Indonesia with a specially crafted recipe that even Chef Yamamoto admits is better than the ones in Japan and their oil-based sauces are just Unique (with a capital U).
They have a small but highly refined menu. Nine main courses (six soba, three rice) and seven side dishes.
Every single one of their sauces are different from the others. They use different sauce bases all imported from Japan so that you can really get the whole experience.
With the opening of the Yamatoten Grand Indonesia branch, they’re also introducing a Chicken option. It’s available for pretty much everything except the Shigure Don and the Aburi Chashu Don.
Clockwise from top-right: Karami Ontama, Ume Wasabi, Kare Soba, Original Chicken, Kare Don
Let’s start with a little… menu breakdown. I feel like a scientist.
Someone I knew (Hi Ika!) told me that if you’ve NEVER been to Yamatoten, then the first thing you should order is the Original Abura Soba. So I listened to her and that’s what I tried first… and trust me when I say this, I couldn’t stop smiling. I legit could not stop smiling. It just tasted so good.
You would expect it to be oily, after all, it is soba with oil, but it’s not! The noodles are smooth, the sauce is rich but light and that little blob of goodness in the middle is taberu rayu (食べるラー油). It’s what makes this dish smells so fragrant and makes it ridiculously good. You can order extra for just IDR 4.000 and I highly recommend you do.
Taberu rayu is a mixture of chilli infused sesame oil, sesame seeds, and crunchy fried minced garlic and onions. It’s amazing.
Ume-Wasabi Abura Soba – Chicken
This is Ika’s favourite. It’s quickly becoming mine too! This is the only soba they serve cold. After it’s cooked, they quickly cool it down in an ice-bath that stops it from becoming sticky and hard. If you’re after a refreshing soba hit with a twist, this is the one to go for.
The Ume-Wasabi Abura Soba combines the sour umeboshi (梅干) or Japanese pickled plum purée with the pungent aftertaste of Japanese-imported wasabi to create a really nice balance. There’s also a tomato vinaigrette to cut through the oilyness of the sauce base. Please just try it.
Kare Abura Soba
This is also one of the new menu items along with the ume-wasabi. Japanese curry is one of the more popular Japanese-inspired dishes in Indonesia. The one Yamatoten serves is different from the kare you’ll be used to.
The Yamatoten Kare recipe comes directly from Chef Yamamoto and is available in both chicken and pork, soba and rice. It looks similar to the Jya-Jya Abura Soba, but it tastes completely different. Completely. The Jya-Jya tends more towards a soy-sauce base whereas this one incorporates a lot of different spices to achieve the final taste.
Extra serving of Pork Chashu
Best Chicken Karaage EVER!
Karami Ontama Abura Soba
The Karami Ontama is the only one that’s spicy from the get-go, but it’s not super spicy. The menu items with three chillies are optional, they include the sake-preserved chillies.
Let me know which one you’ll be getting in the comments below!
Here’s a cheat sheet for you:
- Yamatoten Noob? Original Abura Soba
- Yamatoten Expert? Ume-Wasabi Abura Soba
- Get the Karaage and Wasabi Potato Salad to share
- Ask for extra Taberu Rayu and sake-preserved chillies
- Super hungry? Get the corn
- Grand Indonesia Opening: TODAY!!! (12th December 2015)
- No takeaway
- No reservations
Grand Indonesia East Mall,
LG Floor, #13 and 15 (next to Ranch Market)
10:00am – 22:00pm
– Maria Hadiwinata