Nothing relieves the summer heat like a bowl of reimen, Beppu style.
This post compiles a series of reimen shops I wrote about last year, plus a few additions. I will be updating regularly as I try out more and more reimen shops!
Like many Japanese dishes, Beppu reimen didn’t originate in Japan but rather from the Continental countries. Some say that when Japan withdrew from Manchuria, the dish followed. The original recipe was of course altered to the Japanese taste, and today the flavor has become rather distinct. Note that while Korean famous cold noodle is also called reimen in Japanese, Beppu’s reimen is not at all similar.
The noodle, which is often homemade (in many restaurants you can actually see the machine that churns out the noodle like magic) is made from buckwheat flour. But unlike soba, reimen’s noodle is chewier and has the same thickness as that of spaghetti. The broth is cold and clear – perfect for a hot summer day. In winter, you can opt for “hot” reimen – 温麺, onmen- instead. Both options are available all year round though. The toppings are usually a few slices of cold, well-seasoned beef, kimchi and boiled egg. The ingredients are few and simple, each having different flavors which, when eaten, will burst on your tongue like a harmonious orchestra. The chewiness of the noodle, the slightly spicy and sour kimchi, the refreshing cold broth… To put it in a nutshell, “fun” is the word I would use to describe the reimen experience.
1. Rokusei 六盛
With a young history compared to reimen (2000 vs 1950), Rokusei is actually one of the most famous reimen shops in Beppu. True to their reputation, the reimen here is perfect, from the meat to the kimchi and the perfectly–boiled egg. Their 中華そば – Chinese-style noodle is quite good also. When I’m not too hungry, I like to snack on their chashu, which pairs well with sme refreshing beer.
– Original store: 大分県別府市松原町7-17 (if you’re taking the bus, take the AS70 or AS71 bus or any bus that heads for Oita, and get off 1-2 stops after Youmetown).
– Kitahama store: 大分県別府市北浜1丁目2-28 (get off at Ekimaehonmachi bus stop).
Opening hours: Both open from 11:30 – 14:00 (last order 13:30) and 18:00 til stock runs out. It’s pretty packed though, so you might have to wait. If that’s not an option then take-out is also possible.
Day off: Tuesday
2. Kogetsu 胡月
Yet another famous spot for 冷麺 in Beppu. With more than 40 years of history, 冷麺 here has been made to perfection. I can’t really say which one is better, this or 六盛 (covered in the previous post), so please try both and see for yourself.
The must-try: ビビン冷麺, as shown in the photo below. Packed with hot sauce and kimchi, this cold noodle dish will give your taste buds a wild massage while still cooling your stomach. I honestly like this over the usual reimen.
Address: 大分県別府市石垣東8-1-26. Get off at Minamisuga Iriguchi bus stop, and go up the hill, passing the railroad and it’s just a bit further away on the left.
Opening time: 11:00-18:00 (Monday til 16:00). Off on Wednesday.
3. Ramen Tei Ichiban ラーメン亭一番
A ramen shop with a long history, it is also a local favourite for 冷麺. “The ingredients of many places can be バラバラ, but at Ichiban, the meat is 100% beef, the kimchi is 100% cabbage, and the noodle is 100% soba flour. This is the reason why I liked their reimen best” – says my Japanese friend. She also recommends チャンメン (chanmen), which is a mix between ちゃんぽん (champon) and らーめん (ramen).
Address: 大分県別府市中央町8-31 (From Beppu eki, walk towards Kitahama direction. On the second intersection, turn right.)
Opening hours: 11:00-20:30 (or until stock runs out). Holiday: Sunday.
Price: ~999円. Reimen goes for about 600円.
4. Sugano すが乃
Although Sugano doesn’t exactly serve Beppu reimen、and their menu includes a broad range of Oita specialties, their 和風冷麺 (Japanese style cold noodle) is so good I need to include it here on the list.
This reimen is quite similar to their Korean counterparts, naengmyon. The noodle is thin and chewy, the broth is clear, often sporting some ice cube to keep the temperature low. The toppings can be so diverse, I’ve seen some versions with a slice of watermelon!
Sugano’s reimen uses the typical cucumber – boiled egg – tomato – kimchi topping with a dash of sesame seeds. What makes it special – and so good – is the use of duck meat slices that are seasoned to fit in just right. You heard me right, it’s 鴨 (kamo). If you’re a fan of the famous Kimura duck hotpot, then this reimen is the perfect summer treat for you.
Price: 650円. It’s better to come for lunch, since in the evening you have to order a drink or be charged extra.
Location: 別府市北浜1丁目9-19 北浜ナイトセンター5Ｆ. Right on the outskirt of the Kitahama district, in a building called Kitahama Night Center. Take the elevator to the 5th floor.
Opening hours: 11:30～14:00; 17:30～22:30. Closes Monday.