Tokyo’s Al dente is an Absolute Must for Lovers of Bacon and Pasta

Tokyo’s bustling district of Shinjuku has many busy eateries, but there’s one spaghetti specialty restaurant where you’ll find long lines of people waiting to get in called Al dente Shinjuku Center building (referred to below as “Al dente”).

It first opened in 1979 in the Shinjuku Center Building and continues draw in many customers to this day.

Al dente’s bacon surprises even international tastes

Al dente specializes in spaghetti dishes and offers over 30 different varieties, including more traditional tomato-based spaghetti as well as Japanese-style dishes.

Among them, one of the top three most popular menu items is the “Aglio e olio with bacon” which comes with four large slices of bacon.

アリオ オリオ ベーコン添え,

“アリオ オリオ ベーコン添え,” Aglio e olio with bacon 1,350 JPY (tax included)

The thickness of the bacon is set at 5mm to achieve a balance between fat and meat and to really enhance its juiciness when eaten.

The reason for this particular thickness becomes apparent when you actually eat it.


Aglio e olio with bacon being cooked up

The bacon used in the dish is seared on high heat. This results in a crispy surface on the bacon, providing a satisfying crunch and juiciness when you bite into it.

The restaurant’s precisely calculated thickness of the bacon helps define these distinct textures.

Just one of these thick bacon slices would be satisfying enough, but with four, it’s truly a filling meal.

Steven, an editor at Umami bites who hails from the United States and considers himself a bacon connoisseur, was impressed by the bacon at Al dente, which he found to be quite different from what he’s used to in his home country.


Typically, American bacon is quite thin and is cooked to a crispy texture. With that image of bacon in mind, I was surprised by the bacon at Al dente! The large bacon slices had a a very juicy and meaty texture.

The Aglio e olio with bacon’s seasoning is salt-based, and with only the bacon as a main topping, it’s a very simple spaghetti dish.

And yet, the filling satisfaction after eating it is on par with dishes that have more ingredients.

It’s generously seasoned with garlic, giving it a punchy flavor and an impressive taste despite its simplicity.

It’s the perfect plate of spaghetti not only for meat lovers but also for those who enjoy garlic-infused dishes.

The especially rich Carbonara is also a crowd-pleaser

Al dente is known for emphasizing rich flavors in their dishes, as seen with the Aglio e olio with bacon.

Another popular dish at the restaurant that showcases this bold flavor profile is the Carbonara.

The store’s Carbonara is made in the “Roman style,” meaning it uses very little heavy cream and relies mainly on egg yolks and cheese as the primary ingredients.


“カルボナーラ,” Carbonara 1,280 JPY (tax included)

Al dente’s Carbonara is geared towards adults who enjoy a bold and stimulating flavor profile. It features coarsely ground black pepper generously, which enhances the flavor and lingers on the palate.

Additionally, they offer Grana Padano cheese at the table, so you can add as much as you like to intensify the richness of the dish.

The restaurant also uses thick pasta, measuring 1.8mm, which really allows the sauce to cling effectively to the noodles, resulting in a rich and flavorful experience that hits your tastebuds.


As much cheese as you please is available at tableside

Al dente also pays particular attention to the texture of their pasta.

They use a specially designed pot for boiling the pasta, for which they have even obtained a patent. This cooking process helps them serve up a pasta with a smooth surface and a chewy texture to bite into.

Furthermore, the pot allows them to change the water for boiling every time, ensuring that no excess flavors interfere with the sauce when mixed together.


Preparing the pasta

Another point of emphasis at Al dente is that, for each dish they prepare, they don’t change the frying pan during cooking.

By using the same pan from the sautéing stage until mixing the sauce with pasta, they can efficiently utilize the extracts from ingredients, resulting in a deeper and more complex flavor.

With so much meticulous attention to detail behind each dish, it’s no wonder there are long queues at Al dente.

The presence of nearby hotels and the restaurant’s appeal to both Japanese and foreign tourists, who appreciate the authentic Italian-style spaghetti, have contributed to its enduring popularity over the years.


Al dente’s exterior


Store name あるでん亭 新宿センタービル店
あるでんてい しんじゅくせんたーびるてん
Al dente Shinjuku Center building
Address Shinjuku Center Building MB1F, 1-25-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Access Tochōmae Station 2-minute walk from Exit A1
  • Toei Ōedo Line(E28)

Shinjuku Station(SJK)5-minute walk from Shinjuku Station West Exit
  • JR Yamanote Line(JY17)
  • JR Saikyō Line(JA11)
  • JR Shōnan Shinjuku Line(JS20)
  • JR Chūō Line Rapid(JC05)
  • JR Chūō Sōbu Line(JB10)
  • Keiō Line(KO01)
  • Keiō New Line(KO01)
  • Odakyū Line(OH01)
  • Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line(M08)
  • Toei Shinjuku Line(S01)
  • Toei Ōedo Line(E27)
Phone number 03-3349-0384
Reservations Not accepted
  • Cash
  • Credit cards(American Express・Diners・Discover・JCB・Master・UnionPay・VISA)
  • Transportation-related electronic money (Suica, etc.)
  • Electronic money(nanaco・QUICPay・Rakuten Edy・WAON)
  • QR code payment(Alipay・ANA Pay・atone・au Pay・Bank Pay・d Payment・EPOS PAY・FamiPay・giftee premo plus・K PLUS・LINE Pay・Merpay・Pay Don・PayPay・pring・Rakuten Pay・Smart Code・WeChat Pay・Yucho Pay)
Service charge/Table charge None
Hours Mon-Sat. 11:00-21:30(last order 21:00)
Sun. & nat’l holidays 11:30-20:00(last order 19:30)
Closed No holidays
Excluding Shinjuku Center Building holidays
Seating 30 seats
18 counter seats, 12 table seats
Smoking All seats are non-smoking
Official website
Other information
  • English menus are available
  • Please ask staff about allergy-friendly options; no vegan, vegetarian, or halal menus
  • Wheelchair-accessible
  • Take-out and delivery service are not available
  • Luggage storage is not available
  • Wi-Fi is not available
  • Posting of food photos and videos on SNS is allowed
  • Separate billing is allowed

※Menu contents, prices, store information, etc. are current as of October 2023.