Pasta in Tokyo – It’s ok to slurp
Pasta in Tokyo. Why? Ramen should come first. True but haven’t you ever finished a carbonara and wished it was served in a giant bowl so you could just chug cream, butter and cheese? Neither had I but those days are behind me now. Slurping down ramen style on a big bowl of cheap pasta in Tokyo is right up there with the city’s lack of open container laws. It’s magic. I’ve been in Japan almost 12 years now and have just recently made my first visit to Yomenya Goemon. Short term; triumph. Long term, probably cankles.
Cheap Tokyo Lunches
Cheap Italian food in Tokyo is not as easy to find as some other foods involving noodles. Fuji Soba will serve you a barrel full of soba noodles for 3 USD. Saizeriya has glasses of boxed wine for 1.50. For a true Tokyo pasta experience though, look no further than Yomenya Goemon. The Yo in the name means Western. Yomenya translates as Western Nooldle Shop and this place serves one of my absolute favorite cheap Tokyo lunches. These people are serious about mixing the West and East here but you have to pay attention. The chefs wear Western chef uniforms, toque blanche and all. They only use spaghetti noodles but they are cooked in a massive cauldron and the noodles collected from the water by a bamboo sieve and the water slapped out, like ramen. All of the pasta soups are served in big, deep bowls and the dry pasta are served on Japanese Arita porcelain.
Tokyo Pasta Tokyo Toppings
Yomenya Goemon is a chain. They have over 100 locations in Japan and somehow I’ve never noticed them. They also have shops in Singapore so not sure why they dont have an English menu but there online site does. Those photos may or may not help you. If you can identify all of these Tokyo pasta toppings then you probably also speak and read Japanese. The Wafu spaghetti section has some real crackers on it. The Nebaneba Spaghetti for example is described as having “Fresh seaweed and three kinds of slimy foods”. Natto, grated mountain yams and nametake, a type of extremely slimy mushroom. If you’re not feeling quite that extreme they do have your more well known dishes like pescsatore, carbonara and peperoncino. Hard to say no to corned beef hash, spinach, soy sauce and butter spaghetti though. Want to blow up a leafy green dish? Saute greens in butter and soy sauce and be amazed. Soy sauce and butter is a popcorn flavor topping at cinemas here.
Cheap Tokyo lunches, especially set lunches, almost always come served on a tray and there will always be a small soup. Here they bring you a fancy tray, purple cherry blossom napkins and chopsticks served on a fan shaped tray. Which I didn’t notice until reading the About section on their website. I’d bet good money all of these things turn pink in Spring. Goemon has a massive winter menu that is basically every possible part of a snow crab, so I’m thinking seasonal details are a big part of this experience.
Tokyo Patsa 2 for 1
Carbonara! For whatever reason this dish waited until I moved to Japan to present itself. I had this dish for the first time in Japan and that bright orange egg was a scandal. This was back before I could just google anything and I, like a lot of people, for whatever reason thought orange eggs meant the egg was fertilized. So, 2 chickens for one? Chickens raised on green materials and alfalfa produce dark, orange yolks. Chickens raised on cornmeal produce light yellow yolks. Either way, this was delicious. It’s served in a bowl with an abundance of soup. By soup I mean cream, butter and cheese. Then the raw egg just in case you were thinking pasta in Tokyo might be on the lighter side.
Are we feeling these dishes, or what? Next up is spaghetti alla geneovese. Sort of. Genovese means “someone from Genoa.” This dish, or this dishes distant relative, became famous outside of Genoa, hence the name. Imagine for example, deep fried butter being handed down for centuries and one day being known as “someone from the Iowa State Fair”. Mmmmm carnival food. This dish came with loads of olive oil, pesto sauce, shrimp, avocado and in true pasta in Tokyo style, it is topped with Mizuna. Leafy Japanese mustard greens. While the dry pasta is not served in a bowl, you still don’t get a spoon and fork.
Best part, it’s a pasta in Tokyo two for one. The lunch special lets you pick any two pasta off of a massive lunch special menu. I highly recommend going for a soupy ramen style pasta and a plate pasta. 12 USD.
Takao went with a tomato cream soup from the Wafu (Japanese style) menu. Al dente spaghetti topped with lotus roots, napa cabbage, mizuna and sauted oysters. Cheap Italian food in Tokyo is not without a bit of glamour.
So what does Goemon mean?
Ishikawa Goemon was a Robin Hood like figure who stole gold from the rich and gave it to the poor. He was boiled alive with his son in public after a failed assassination attempt on the Shogun in 1594. His wikipedia entry gets real dark, real quick. Goemon is a very common name from the Edo period. The name has a quintessentially old school feel for Japanese people. Like naming an American style sushi restaurant “Eastern Raw Fish Shop, Gertrude”.
On a side note. Having gone freelance I am definitely a little lighter in the pockets but I am becoming a master of cheap Tokyo lunches.
Cheap Italian Food in Tokyo – Yomenya Goemon
It’s a chain you can find all over Japan but I went to this one:
7 Days a week