Donbei pot noodle stand

15 Jan

I didn’t even notice there was a pot noodle stand in Shibuya station until the other day!

Do you know Donbei? It’s a long-selling pot udon and soba noodle made by Nisshin, the famous cup noodle maker in Japan. It’s common to see a soba stand (or a udon stand) in a train station, but I’ve never seen a pot noodle stand ever before. I thought it was new but I was wrong. It’s been there since Nov. 2010, according to their website. It was supposed to be a limited-time shop but they didn’t close the shop because people just loved it so much.

I’d have felt quite embarrassed to take pictures there if there had been more people around. But it was in the daytime and there were not many people around. ๐Ÿ™‚

It seems that they serve Donbei that is usually limited to certain areas such as “only available in Hokkaido” for example.

Each Donbei seems to be priced 200yen or so here, served with hot water, while it’s sold at about 100yen at supermarkets. I see.
It’s a Donbei character fox. As always, setting an image character for a certain service or product is quite important in Japan. That’s how the service or the product is spread smoothly in Japanese market. But the point is that the character must be kawaii or cute, as you may notice! ^_^

I must say it represents how our economy situation is bad. Working men may live with instant noodle lunch as cheap as 200yen and they finish their lunch within 10 minutes. The other day I also saw a young working man who bought 2 pastries and 1 yogurt as his lunch and paid 187yen at a supermarket. It looks like a breakfast but he would work until 8 or 9pm. I think I’m eating more than that guy, and I’m already starving before 8. :p

As for myself, I don’t like pot noodle so much, but I believe many people love it. It’s true it’s cheap, easy and handy. A pot noodle station…but I don’t think it will be well-received in Europe, for example. How about other Asian countries or in your country? What do you think??

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29 Responses to “Donbei pot noodle stand”

  1. rhiannon January 15, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    There's a Korean mini-market in London that offers this same thing, but…I wouldn't pay to eat such a thing in a store when I could buy it and eat it at home for less… ^^; Although, Japanese pot noodle is bigger and more like an actual meal than the ones the Korean store is offering (which is just ramen). Maybe I would try it just as a novelty ๐Ÿ™‚

    • kirin January 16, 2012 at 12:54 am #

      I have the same thought as yours. But it's true Japanese pot noodle is like real meal, full of additive stuff. XD

  2. Lethia January 15, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    OMG I love eating donbei instant noodles! ๐Ÿ˜€ I love their tempura udon & tembura soba~ each cost about more or less $4 SGD here, depending on the size.

    There are supermaket here in Singapore that sells Donbei too (Cold Storage, MEIDI-YA, Isetan Supermaket) but sadly only got few limited flavor / choices sold here ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I would love to try other flavors!

    But this is VERY INTERESTING !!! I never thought someone open a restaurant just to sell instant cup noodles at all !!! o_o it's very suprising because it seems to be actually worked well & popular (probably to salary men or students) ???

    I think it will work well in Asian countries since alot of ASIAN cuisine using noodles to cook & also many asian ppl love to eat noodles! ๐Ÿ˜€ Coz I love noodles more than rice!

    As for western countries like Europe / USA maybe it wont be so popular since they probably prefer breads than rice or noodles.

    • kirin January 16, 2012 at 12:58 am #

      I think this kind of restaurant is successful in Singapore and some Asian countries, too. In Singapore you have hawker center and coffee shop here and there. ^ ^

  3. Fran January 15, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    Wait…..correct me if I'm wrong-but do they just sell the instant noodles there? Or can people actually sit down and eat instant noodles? If so that seems a little silly to me! I'd much rather have a nice hot bowl of real ramen! I don't mind instant noodles when I'm feeling too lazy to cook lunch though ๐Ÿ™‚

    • kirin January 16, 2012 at 1:01 am #

      Yes, people pay 200yen or so in exchange for hot water, Donbei pot noodle and chopsticks and sit down to eat it there.
      It was a big surprise to me to see this kind of restaurant can be well-received or supported by the people, because I have the same thought as yours: I'd prefer real ramen meal even if I pay triple (600yen) for that.

  4. Alexandria Web January 15, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

    I think that would go down quite well in the UK, we like our Pot Noodles here ๐Ÿ™‚

    • kirin January 16, 2012 at 1:02 am #

      Oh really?? I thought European people like to take long time for meal and meal shouldn't be something like this. XD

      • Snaily January 16, 2012 at 11:46 am #

        I guess Pot Noodles are probably more of a lunch-time food in the UK. At dinner time we generally have a larger meal with meat and vegetables and potatoes. I like to eat pot noodles at work. It's sometimes nicer to have hot food instead of cold sandwiches for lunch, especially on a cold day like today!

        I'd like pot noodles much more if they had a kawaii fox advertising them! UK advertising tries to make a joke with the idea that pot noodles are an option for lazy people.

  5. XavierB January 15, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

    I'm quite shocked to hear that those pot noodles just cost 100 yen (200 yen with hot water) in Tokyo. (And even more that people in Tokyo rely on this kind of food as a daily diet.) I mean you are speaking about a city where one apple costs as much as 1 kg(!) of apples here in Europe. How can they achieve such a low price? I buy from time to time Chinese pot noodle at Chinese supermarkets for 0.90 € to 1.50 € (1 € approx. 100 yen) and I always thought the undervaluation of the Renbinmi was the reason for such low prices. Now I'm not so sure anymore.

    The biggest obstacle to establish such a shop, at least here in Portugal, is IMO the bad reputation (and rightfully so) of instant food. Unlike the Asian pot noodles where ingredients and flavours are divided into several bags, the western instant food comes usually already "mixed". So they have to add lot of stabilizers, salt and fat to "create" and keep the taste.

    Furthermore we already have soup restaurants in every mall, although considerable pricier (3.50 € upwards). In most of them these soups come pre-cooked in frozen or refrigerated bags, and just have to get heated up or finished there. (Of course NOT in front of the customer, to maintain the illusion of fresh-made soup!) It's not exactly instant food, because they don't have to dry it or add any chemicals.

    But anyway, I don't like soup, because most of them have nothing in it to chew on. And they put way too many vegetables in it, especially the ones I don't like or can't eat. The only ones I usually eat (without protest) are "caldo verde" [ https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caldo_verde ], "sopa de pedra" [ https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/็Ÿณใฎใ‚นใƒผใƒ— ] and "canja" [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congee#Portugal ].

    • kirin January 16, 2012 at 1:07 am #

      1 apple costs more than 1 euro, and with 1 euro you can buy 1 kg of apple. I think I've heard a similar story lately. Yes, that's so true. But when it comes to pot noodle, Nisshin, the pot noodle company is a Japanese company. It's made in Japan, mass production. So it's still cheap. Whatever requires human work in this country costs too much money. Agricultural products always require a lot of human work, which is why imported fruits or vegetables can be even cheaper than those produced in our own country. -_-

      We have a chain soup stand in Tokyo, that is called "Soup Stock Tokyo". ^ ^ http://www.soup-stock-tokyo.com/

      • tunimaal January 16, 2012 at 2:56 am #

        Yes Definitly 1 Apple cost the same price as a kilo of Apple in Europe. (I use to be a supermarket manager in France, and 1kg of Apple, which means 5 apples, cost from 0,80 Euros to 1,20 euros, but the qualit is not the same). And the prices of fruits and vegetables are so expensive in Japan because the Japanese gouvernement is overprotecting the Agriculture of the country, to make sure that they will still have work and a big market to sell there products on.

      • kirin January 17, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

        I know, many foreign friends are surprised how fruits and vegetables are expensive over here. >_<
        I also don't like some vegetables are packed with 5 egg plants, for example, in one bag and there's no other choice for us. That's too much for a single household. -_-

  6. sedonia2 January 15, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    The noodles look good to me! And the fox is so kawaii. I'm not sure how such a place would be received here in the US in general but surely in the major cities they would probably do well as Asian food is incredibly popular over here. You can't go anywhere in the US and not be able to find plenty of Chinese, Thai and Japanese restaurants.

    • kirin January 16, 2012 at 1:10 am #

      I don't remember how many years ago when I had Donbei last time and I no longer remember its taste, but I'm sure it's good. In fact, many instant noodles in our country are under development for better taste, and pot ramen can taste almost as good as real meal. So there's no wonder Donbei today can taste like real udon or soba.

  7. Alberto January 15, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

    That place looks like a nice tavern. Sometimes a place is not much luxurious but still people likes it. I think it's because it's a familiar place, warm, welcoming…

    I think that I now understand a bit more about you, Japanese people. I always guessed why JP people seem so shy and silent. I read that it's all about respect and do not annoy the other people. Now I think that I can understand why you say "I’d have felt quite embarrassed to take pictures there if there had been more people around". That's something that is hard to understand here in Spain. Of course, we respect other people, but not in that way. We don't mind about taking photos where there are more people. We don't mind to talk loud in public places. But still, we respect other people's beliefs and thoughts.

    I have a little question about those taverns: does the curtains in the entrance have some meaning? I say those half-curtains in documentaries and movies, but I don't know if they have some purpose or only decorative.

    About economy, it's true, situation is really bad. I hope it can be solved soon. As for me, I'm lucky enough I still have my job, but I know people that has been without job for more than one year and living only thanks to the State monetary aid, that is in many cases half of a normal salary. Of course I help some friend that needs money or food, but still, it's really sad to see people without a job and without any State Aid.

    I hope any of you do not to be in such situation.

    • kirin January 16, 2012 at 1:17 am #

      Interesting comment, Alberto.
      If there were more people around, those people first of all feel quite uncomfortable to appear in my picture. I don't know if you know this fact, but when Japanese people blog, we normally don't like to show our face in a picture. Many use photoshop to hide our face or eyes to be anonymous. We don't like to use real name either. (As for me, I don't mind appearing in a photo or youtube but I use my nickname, "Kirin".) ^ ^;;

      I'm quite sad how euro is getting weak these days. I have deposit with euro and if I convert it to JPyen now, I've lost more than 100,000yen! (T_T)

  8. Walter January 15, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    I've seen lots of kinds at the Chinese and Japanese supermarket here, but I've never tried it. When I see how many there are , lots of people must be buying them, or they wouldn't put so many up for sale.
    But I have never eaten one myself. I cook all my food : that way I know what I put into it and it tastes better.

    • kirin January 16, 2012 at 1:18 am #

      Of course, if you can cook properly and you have enough time to eat, you don't need to reach out such a thing. ^_^ Many of us are very busy, always running out of time (and money especially these days) and it's quite common that they end up with quick, easy or cheap meal. -_-

  9. tunimaal January 16, 2012 at 2:50 am #

    A Pot Noodle Shop? It will be definitly not welcomed in Europe. I mean that the kind of thing which is pretty easy to do and really cheap, and the are selling it for 2000 Yen just to add you some hot water on it. But seems to work pretty well in Japan, maybe because people are to busy and lazy. I don't know

    • kirin January 17, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

      200yen, not 2000yen. 2000yen for a pot noodle with hot water is way too much. lol
      I don't think this works in Europe, either.

  10. Miss Godzilla January 16, 2012 at 6:48 am #

    It is kind of a cool novelty, being able to try the regional flavours…
    not sure it actually has anything to do with the economy though.

    • kirin January 17, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

      I mean, it would have been a soba noodle stand or a ramen stand, that at least charges 500yen or so per a bowl. But now, people are OK with such meal and they can do it half price or less. That's why I thought it has something to do with economy as well, especially because it didn't close after the limited-time offer period. People supported it, not only as a campaign in some limited period but also as a restaurant that keeps serving.

  11. Apple January 16, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

    Japan is so interesting! I'd never think this would work…but…i guess it just might! There's a market of ppl who would love quick, simple, cheap food like that I guess! Now that I think about it, I may frequent it if I were a student….haha! When I was 11 years old, I used to eat cup noodles everyday for lunch. -_-" so unhealthy! but quick!

    • kirin January 17, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

      "I'd never think this would work" Exactly! That's what I thought, too. But it does! You're right, there is a market of people who would love quick, simple and cheap food. I guess we are too busy. >_<

  12. Lisa January 18, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

    Are Donbei instant noodles as good as they look in the ads?
    As a student, I wouldn't mind paying $2 for that but if they are like Mr. Noodle then no.

    • kirin January 18, 2012 at 11:44 pm #

      Yes, Donbei tastes good. In general, pot noodles made in Japan are in high quality and taste good, yet the price is low. That's why many people keep eating pot noodles in this country.

  13. Emily January 19, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    I wish we had noodles stands where I live in the States! That would be awesome!! I recently had the most amazing Thai rice noodles from a favorite Chinese restaurant and it's all I want to eat now! lol I remember seeing some brown rice noodles from the grocery store but I couldn't find any miso paste! Grrrr!! I wanted to make my own miso soup, which I love!!!!!!!! I could improvise a different flavor with chicken broth, chives, and other ingredients but I'm sure it wouldn't be the same as the yummy noodles I had at the restaurant! lol

    • kirin January 21, 2012 at 2:04 am #

      Oh! You love miso soup!? ๐Ÿ˜€
      I somehow don't like it so much because I often feel thirsty for hours after I take it. My husband says it's not thirsty at all but somehow I feel so. -_-

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