Amusement Wanko Soba Kurukuru Wanko wants you to eat over a hundred bowls of noodles in one sitting.

While noodle dishes like soba and ramen tend to get a lot of love from overseas tourists, there’s a special dish called wanko soba that’s equally deserving of love and attention.

This famous specialty hails from Iwate Prefecture, and though it consists of soba, the way it’s eaten is incredibly unusual — instead of being slurped up all at once in one bowl, the soba is served in small portions across a number of bowls in quick succession, like an all-you-can-eat challenge.

Usually you have to travel to Iwate to enjoy wanko soba, but now you can get a taste of it right here in Tokyo, at a new restaurant called Amusement Wanko Soba Kurukuru Wanko. Although traditionally the dishes are served by staff at your table, here in Tokyo they’ve put a new spin on things, quite literally, by setting the bowls on a revolving conveyor belt, so diners can serve themselves.

The entrance to Amusement Wanko Soba Kurukuru Wanko.

As the first-ever wanko soba conveyor belt restaurant in Japan, this place has been making news on T.V. and online since it opened on 25 June in Tokyo’s Kabukicho. Seeing as our reporter P.K. Sanjun has a wealth of expertise in sushi conveyor belt restaurants, or kaitenzushi as they’re known in Japan, he was the ideal person to assess this new way of eating wanko soba, so he stopped by for a visit.

The standard meal costs 3,300 yen (US$24.38) for 40 minutes, which includes as much soba as you can eat, along with green onions, wasabi and ginger, while other condiments like seaweed and grated radish are priced at 100 yen each.

It’s not just the revolving conveyor belt that makes this place unusual — P.K. discovered it was a standing-style restaurant, with no chairs inside.

While he thought this was unusual at first, he quickly realised this standing style, facing the conveyor belt was actually more practical for shovelling noodles down his throat. Consuming as many bowls of noodles as you can is part of the fun of wanko soba, and P.K. was aiming to clear at least 100 during his allotted time.

▼ This is the set P.K. was given, with the option to add broth in the larger bowl, and mix noodles, broth and condiments in the smaller bowl, if desired.

As P.K. grabbed bowls of noodles from the conveyor belt, he felt a little more confident in his ability to reach his goal — in just one minute he was able to polish off over 10 bowls! 

Thankfully, the small portions make this a fun and manageable challenge, and the empty bowls soon began piling up, with around 30 on his table after five minutes.

▼ At this rate, P.K. figured he should be able to clear 240 bowls in 40 minutes.

As for the taste, there was nothing fancy here — P.K. simply described it as “soba”. However, flavour isn’t integral to the Wanko Soba experience — it’s all about speed and consumption, and after 17 minutes, P.K. had achieved his goal for the day, with 100 empty bowls on the counter.

Whenever he felt tired, P.K. refreshed his palate with some condiments, which had a great effect on cleansing his taste buds in between bowlfuls of noodles. By the time he’d finished 100 bowls,  though, P.K. began to feel full, and while he might’ve pushed through if he were a younger lad, he decided to bow out after the century, so he could enjoy his achievement without any uncomfortable bloating.

▼ P.K. also had a confession to make — he may have grabbed some of these smaller noodle bowls to help him get to 100.

It was actually pretty handy to have some smaller servings rolling by, to help diners achieve their bowl goals without overdoing things. That made P.K. wonder where his 100 bowls sat in the grand scheme of things, and after enquiring with staff, they told him that women tend to eat around 60-80 bowls on average, while men generally consume about twice that.

▼ As for the highest record, in the two days since opening it was 317 bowls, set by a female diner.

All diners get to take a commemorative photo at a special spot set up near the entrance, and P.K. relished in his wanko soba achievements with a rockstar pose.

It’s a fun way to enjoy wanko soba in the heart of Tokyo, and P.K. definitely recommends adding it to your list of must-visit restaurants, along with prison-themed restaurant The Lockup, which will sadly close its doors on 31 July.

Restaurant Information

Amusement Wanko Soba Kurukuru Wanko / アミューズメントわんこそば・くるくるわんこ
Address: Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku, Kabukicho 1-22-9, J GOLDBUILD 5F
東京都新宿区歌舞伎町1丁目22-9 J GOLDBUILD 5階
Hours: 12:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.

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