Kabukicho sure has had a facelift: the 2015 opening of a commercial centre housing Toho Cinemas, the Gracery hotel and a handful of restaurants brought with it a burst of 'clean-up' activity, with the grand aim of transforming this nest of smut and villainy into yet another sterile site for money-spending by the time the Olympics roll around. Although said efforts are still ongoing – step off the main drag and the fuzoku businesses, gangsters and hustlers won't be hard to spot – signs of a brave new neighbourhood are everywhere. Those include Kabukicho's supply of ramen shops: where you once had a greasy and smelly counter-only tonkotsu joint, you'll now find a place like Beefst, a spotless café-style shop serving up hip abura soba (ramen without soup) topped with roast beef.
We stopped by on a Saturday night and found the brightly lit, sparsely decorated and stylish eatery packed with dating couples and high school girls – hardly your average Kabukicho regulars. Opened in autumn 2015, Beefst has managed to take the step up from gimmicky trend spot to serious comfort food outlet with its competently crafted, carnivore-charming combos of mouth-watering roast beef over medium-thick, round noodles and a shoyu-based, nice and light mixing sauce found at the bottom of the bowl. Wasabi, soy sauce and onion can be added for extra punch with the meat. The standard serving with 80g of beef goes for ¥900, and can be upgraded to 140g, 200g and 450g versions. In addition to the shoyu, sauce options include spicy chilli (karamiso) and cream. All in all, Beefst offers satisfying, quick grub perfect for a movie night or as an intro to an evening of bar-hopping. You can even start drinking right then and there – you see, this is a ramen-ya with a wine list.
2-37-2 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku
|Opening hours:||11am-8am daily|
|Transport:||Seibu Shinjuku Station (Seibu Shinjuku line); Shinjuku Station|