There’s more than noodles that’s worth ordering at this ubiquitous soba chain.

Welcome back to Japan Super Budget Dining, the series where our panel of hungry reporters head to one of Japan’s most popular chain restaurants and put together the best meal they can with a budget of 1,000 yen (US$6.80).

Today we’re visiting Fuji Soba, a restaurant that, as you can probably guess, is best known for its soba (buckwheat) noodles. There’s more than just soba on offer at Fuji Soba, though, so let’s see what today’s team of writers came up with for your future dining pleasure, and also the self-grandiose names they came up with for them.

▼ A Fuji Soba branch

1. Go Hatori’s “I Want It All Three-in-One Set Where You Can Enjoy the Top Two Seiro Styles at Once”

● Kamo seiro soba (580 yen)
● Shungiku tempura (170 yen)
● Squid tempura (160 yen)
● Soft-boiled egg (80 yen)
Total: 990 yen

Go’s selection is heavy on linguistic and numerical aspects for us to digest. “Seiro soba” is a style in which the noodles are served by themselves on/in a tray, plate, or bowl and then dunked into a separate bowl of broth before eating. In Go’s opinion, the two best types of seiro soba accompaniments are kamo (duck) and tempura. It’s not unusual for a restaurant’s kamo seiro soba alone to be over 1,000 yen, and the same goes for a tempura seiro soba meal. But thanks to Fuji Soba’s affordable prices and tempura side orders, Go created a combination that gives him both duck and tempura.

Starting with the kamo seiro, you get a decadently rich and delicious flavor from the slices of duck meat, which seeps into the broth too. The broth will also soak into the breading of the tempura squid and shungiku (chrysanthemum greens), enhancing their flavor. And as for the “Three-in-One” part of Go’s meal? That’s because adding a soft-boiled egg to the broth creates something similar to tsukimi soba (noodles with a raw egg cracked into the broth).

2. Seiji Nakazawa’s “Manly Fried Chicken and Curry Rice Set”

● Curry Rice Set (740 yen)
● Ore no Karaage (220 yen)
Total: 960 yen

“If you’re looking to get the best value for you money at Fuji Soba, it’s a dumb move to fixate only on their soba,” says Seiji. “You gotta get the Curry Rice Set!” he passionately informs us. Said set comes with a nice-sized plate of curry rice and your choice of hot or chilled soba, and Seiji went with a dish of chilled noodles with dipping broth and condiments of wasabi and green onion.

For the finishing touch, he adds an order of “Ore no Karaage,” or “My Fried Chicken” (said with the masculine first-person pronoun ore), which is Fuji Soba’s official name for the two-piece side order, available at select locations such as the chain’s Shinjuku branch. Put those on top of your curry rice, and you’ve got the making of a filling, protein-packed meal.

3. Takashi Harada’s “Pork Cutlet Bowl Restaurant Fuji Soba Set”

● Katsudon Set (870 yen)
● Spinach ohitashi (120 yen)
Total: 990 yen

Though soba is Fuji Soba’s primary claim to fame, the chain is also known as one of the most affordable sit-down restaurants for katsudon, or pork cutlet bowl. Personally, Takashi actually thinks of Fuji Soba as a katsudon joint first and a soba one second, so he always orders a pork cutlet bowl when he eats here. The Katsudon Set, like the Curry Rice Set, gets you your choice of hot or chilled soba on the side, and because he feels just a little guilty eating deep-fried pork, Takashi also added a side order of spinach ohitashi, a mixture of stewed spinach leaf and katsuobushi (bonito flakes) so that he had some vegetables too.

4. Yuichiro Wasai’s “Almost All Toppings Warming You Up From the Inside Set”

● Akafuji Soba (680 yen)
● Inari sushi (160 yen)
● Kakiage (150 yen)
Total: 990 yen

Why did Yuichiro choose the Akafuji (Red Fuji) Soba, a Fuji Soba original take on soba noodles? Because he honestly doesn’t eat soba very often, and the Akafuji Soba had a notice on the menu saying it was the restaurant’s recommendation, so he acquiesced to Fuji Soba’s expertise, while adding an order of kakiage (a disc of mixed vegetable and shrimp tempura) and inari sushi (vinegared sushi rice wrapped in fried tofu).

It turned out putting the decision largely in Fuji Soba’s hands was a great idea, too. The Akafuji Soba has a unique spicy broth, plus strips of pork and a hard-boiled egg. The spiciness of the food felt like it was raising Yuichiro’s body temperature too, always a plus at this chilly time of year, and the subtle sweetness of the inari sushi complemented the spice near-perfectly.

5. P.K. Sanjun’s “Pickled Ginger Tempura Set That I Could Keep Eating Forever”

● Pork Liver Bowl Set (790 yen)
● Pickled ginger tempura (150 yen)
● Extra green onion (50 yen)
Total: 990 yen

Not every Fuji Soba branch offers a pork liver rice bowl set, but the one P.K. visited did. Really, though, he’s happy with pretty much any rice bowl/noodle combo set, as long as he adds a side order of pickled ginger (benishoga in Japanese) tempura to it. Toss that in with his noodles and P.K. is good to go…and go and go and go until his tempura runs out.

6. Mariko Ohanabatake’s “Rare Rangiri-Up Soba Set That’s Halfway Between Health and Junk Food”

● Spicy Tanuki Meat Soba (Rangiri Noodles) (510 yen)
● Spinach ohitashi (120 yen)
● Potato croquette (150 yen)
Total: 770 yen

Like Yuichiro, Mariko doesn’t have much first-hand experience with the Fuji Soba menu, so she also went with the recommendation from the branch she was eating at, the Ueno Shinobazu branch in downtown Tokyo. This branch offers “rangiri” soba noodles, in which noodles of various thicknesses are mixed together in the same serving. This gives them a varying but consistently enticing chewiness, and the tempura flakes floating in the spicy broth added a fried-food guilty pleasure, offset, once again, by some spinach.

7. Ahiruneko’s “Patlabor Scene Recreation Set”

● Potato croquette soba (540 yen)
● Raw egg (80 yen)
● Sapporo White Belg Beer (330 yen)
Total: 950 yen

If you, like Ahiruneko, are a person of refined tastes, you’re no doubt already familiar with the scene in “The SV2’s Longest Day (Part 1),” the fifth episode of the original Mobile Police Patlabor anime OVA series from 1988. This landmark work of Japanese robot animation includes a scene in which the character Asuma Shinohara, while eating in a soba restaurant, tacks on side orders of potato croquette, raw egg, and inari sushi. It’s fondly remembered enough among fans that Fuji Soba actually ran an official Patlabor collaboration recently, and Ahiruneko’s goal was to recreate Asuma’s meal in its entirety.

Unfortunately, the Fuji Soba branch Ahiruneko went to that day was all sold out of inari sushi, so he reverted to his usual restaurant ordering instincts and got a beer instead.

8. Mr. Sato’s “I Wanted to Eat Pork Cutlet so Badly that I Wasted 100 Yen Set”

● Katsudon (580 yen)
● Kake soba (390 yen)
Total: 970 yen

Mr. Sato arrived at Fuji Soba with a monstrous craving for katsudon, so he ordered one right away, plus a bowl of kake soba (simple hot soba without any fancy additional toppings). Together, they come out to 970 yen, 100 yen more than Fuji Soba’s official Katsudon Set of a pork cutlet bowl and bowl of noodles.

So why did Mr. Sato pass up the cheaper set and order his items individually? Because usually soba restaurants’ noodle/rice bowl combos give you a mini-sized rice bowl but he wanted a full-size one. It was only later that Mr. Sato realized that Fuji Soba generously will give you a full-sized rice bowl in its sets for no additional charge, meaning that he spent 100 yen more than he needed to. He has no regrets, though, as everything still tasted just as good as it would have if he’d gotten it for 100 yen less.

9. Masanuki Sunakoma’s “Big Ramen, No Regrets Set”

● Miso ramen and curry rice set (780 yen)
● Large-size upsize (140 yen)
Total: 920 yen

If you’ve read our previous Japan Super Budget Dining articles, you might have noticed that Masanuki tends to go in a different direction than everyone else, and that’s happened again here. A lot of people aren’t even aware that Fuji Soba serves ramen at all – Masanuki certainly wasn’t until he saw it on the menu this day, but he was glad he did, as it tasted great, and the curry rice did too.

10. Yoshio’s “In My Life, I’ll Never Cheat on You Set”

● Hiyashi Tokusen Fuji Soba (540 yen)
● Spinach (120 yen)
● Sapporo White Belg Beer (330 yen)
Total: 990 yen

Yoshio has been going to Fuji Soba since he was in middle school, and he always orders the same thing: the Hiyashi Tokusen Fuji Soba, a bowl of chilled soba noodles with green onion, a soft-boiled egg, fried tofu, seaweed, and kanikama (imitation crab). It creates a beautiful harmony of textures and flavors, and, once again, the extra spinach makes it a little healthier. Of course, even though he’s been eating this since he was a kid, Yoshio is now an adult, which means he can end his meal with a can of beer to sip while reminiscing about his childhood.

Aside from the variety and affordability of their menu, another reason to love Fuji Soba is that many of their branches are open 24 hours a day, so feel free to use this list as a reference for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s always happy to talk Patlabor.