Welcome to another installment of the Gaijin Gourmet. Today we are definitely scrapping the bottom of the barrel for, er, “restaurants” and cheap places to eat. Today I was asked to write a review of “Donbei.”

Donbei is a, er, “restaurant” on Shibuya Japan Railways (JR) Yamanote Line Platform. I use the term, “restaurant” loosely because Donbei only serves instant noodles! Get it? They only pour hot water into plastic bowls of instant noodles!

Do you call that a “restaurant”? Are you kidding me?

As most of you could probably guess by the high quality prose available in the Gaijin Gourmet ®, I get paid a thousand dollars per word ® for each of these articles I write! But I was chewing off my fingernails wondering if I should accept or decline this, er, “restaurant” review. But, for the good of humanity, I decided to persevere and move forward.

I’ve eaten school lunches; I’ve eaten convenience store bento; I’ve even eaten my first girlfriend’s souffle she made for me as a bizarre dating experiement! Urgh!

But this? What had hell wroth?

A “restaurant” review of an establishment that pours hot water into instant noodles??? What? The same kind of instant noodles that the convenience store sells for ¥120 yen?

I wrote a one word review: “No!”

Then my editor said they wouldn’t pay me for just one word. Cheapskates!

I then wrote a two word review that said, “Absolutely not!”

Still, even at more than twice the letterage, that wasn’t enough for the slave drivers that run Robot55!

I explained that if I wrote more than two words, I could do nothing but devolve into lines of invective and how much I hate instant noodles and hate myself for actually even considering for a moment in accepting this assignment.

The Gaijin Gourmet® might be a cheapskate, that I often have a beer* at home before going out to drink just to save money, but even he has to draw the line somewhere! (*= Actually a cheap beer substitute like Happoshu.)

I have my pride!!!!


Close up of the front panel of Donbei

Now, normally, the Gaijin Gourmet’s job is to show you, dear reader, how you can get a great meal, in an expensive city like Tokyo, for under $5 (USD). That’s my mission and I’m sticking with it. There’s a bunch of links below that point you, dear reader, into the right direction for some delicious, healthy and inexpensive food for you and the whole family (I have four kids too!)

But, today? Today is different! Today worse than a can of tuna that’s twenty years past expiration date! Today’s post is similar to my warning about asking Japanese girls on a date (please refer to: Gaijin Gourmet Advice for Foreign Gentlemen Living in Japan!); today is a warning to STAY AWAY from noodle restaurant’s that are on train platform’s or inside of the train or subway stations.

Generally, speaking, they can be cheap, but if a noodle shop is inside the train or subway station, then it’s a good bet that they are all mostly TERRIBLE!

Front of Donbei at Shibuya Station

Front of Donbei at Shibuya Station

And, of all the terrible “restaurants” that exist in Tokyo, today I have the displeasure of warning you to STAY AWAY from Donbei at Shibuya JR Station (it’s on the platform heading towards Shinjuku). This place might be the worst noodle shop in all of Japan!

There were actually three customers there at lunch time!

There were actually three customers there at lunch time! You kidding me????

“The worst in Japan? How that be?” you say? Well, it looks like a nice restaurant from outside, but all they serve are instant noodles! Really. No kidding. You buy a ticket from the ticket meal machine and then hand it to the kitchen staff and they rip open an instant noodle pack and pour in hot water!

And people actually go there? WTF?! Are you kidding me???? I thought people only eat this kind of instant noodles when they are at home late at night; or when there’s a typhoon and they are stuck at the office! You mean, people actually go outside and eat this stuff? Voluntarily?!

This is either a sick joke or some genius idea! I’m not sure!

Well, I can say the kitchen is spotless... Should be when the only thing they do is boil water.

Well, I can say the kitchen is spotless… Should be when the only thing they do is boil water.

You know, I don’t eat this sort of instant ramen at home anyway. I used to. But this stuff isn’t all that healthy for you, you know? It’s all just chemicals reconstituted and reformed to look and taste like food. It isn’t real food. Stay away from all these sorts of places!


Ah, the second time I looked inside it was about 2 pm… It was empty. Any surprises there?

The above photo was the second time I actually looked inside this fine dining establishment. It was the last….

You know, it takes hard work becoming the best at anything, be it a restaurant, a band, a company, anything… It also takes an incredible amount of effort to be the worst…. If you think you’ve eaten at some terrible places, then I suggest that you go out an try Donbei so that you can actually realize just how lucky you’ve been so far!

I figure Donbei must be some sort of promotional gimmick… Because there’s no way they are making any money doing this since the place is always empty… And, here I am, promoting this place with today’s post. Sheesh! For all I know, because of this article, Donbei will become a famous must-see tourist attraction in Shibuya for foreigners before the Tokyo Olympics.

Move over Hachiko (the dog statue)! Donbei has arrived – and you don’t even have to leave the station!


Looking for great deals on cheap eats in Japan?:

Gaijin Gourmet! The Best, Most Delicious Soba Restaurant in Shibuya and Shinjuku robot55.jp/blog/gaijin-gourmet-the-best-most-delicious-soba-restaurant-in-shibuya-and-shinjuku/

Gaijin Gourmet – Hamazushi! Tokyo’s Best Robot Sushi! robot55.jp/blog/gaijin-gourmet-hamazushi-tokyos-best-robot-sushi/

Gaijin Gourmet – Sukiya! Japan’s Best Gyudon (Beef Bowl) robot55.jp/blog/gaijin-gourmet-sukiya-japans-best-gyudon-beef-bowl/

Gaijin Gourmet Advice for Foreign Gentlemen Living in Japan!

Gaijin Gourmet – Best Soba Chain in Tokyo?Yude Taro and ¥220 Draft Beer?! robot55.jp/blog/gaijin-gourmet-best-soba-chain-in-tokyo?yude-taro-and-¥220-draft-beer/

Gaijin Gourmet: The Best Premium Salad Bar in Tokyo? – Sizzler in Setagaya robot55.jp/blog/gaijin-gourmet-the-best-premium-salad-bar-in-tokyo-sizzler-in-setagaya/

Gaijin Gourmet! Great Cheap and Delicious Soba in Gaienmae on Ginza Line! robot55.jp/blog/gaijin-gourmet-great-cheap-and-delicious-soba-in-gaienmae-on-ginza-line/

The Gaijin Gourmet: The Best Salad Bar Deal in Tokyo at Big Boy – My Favorite Rock N Roll Diner!! robot55.jp/blog/the-gaijin-gourmet-the-best-salad-bar-deal-in-tokyo-at-big-boy-my-favorite-rock-n-roll-diner/

Tokyo’s Best Cheap Sushi is in Okachimachi!? 東京の一番安くて美味しい寿司屋?御徒町にあるの? http://robot55.jp/blog/tokyos-best-cheap-sushi-in-okachimachi/

The Gaijin Gourmet: Soba Wars At Hanzomon Station in Tokyo robot55.jp/blog/gaijin-gourmet-soba-wars-at-hanzomon-station-in-tokyo/


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