Soba is a type of noodle made from buckwheat flour. Soba noodles are served either in hot fish based broth as a noodle soup or chilled with a dipping sauce. The taste of soup slightly differs depending on the areas. (Tokyo region is darker soup and Kansai region is lighter soup) Soba restaurant varies from casual to luxury, casual style such as standing style and luxury such as ozashiki style where you sit down in private rooms.
Best soba restaurants in Tokyo
Below are the 5 best soba restaurants in Tokyo to try the best soba!
1. Kanda Matsuya (神田まつや)
Built in 1924, Matsuya welcomes the customers with wooden gables, half-roofs, giant white paper lanterns hanging outside. If you can pay a visit to the place, it’s best to enjoy your soba with some simple side dishes such as toasted seaweed; some tempura; or a stick or two of yakitori. Kanda Matsuya is located at a walkable distance from the famous Akihabara Electric town.
1-13 Kanda Sudacho Chiyoda Tokyo
1mins walk from Awajicho Station or just hundreds meter around Akihabara Electric town
Mondays-Fridays 11:00-20:00, Saturdays and holidays 11:00-19:00
Closed on Sundays
2. Kanda Yabu Soba (かんだやぶそば)
Yabu Soba is a sobaya serves both excellent soba and a wide range of tasty side dishes. Some simple but delicious recommendations are seiro (zaru) soba (¥670) and kamaage udon (¥1,050). If you can cope with Japanese, then the seasonal specialties are also worth trying. Some tasty side dishes are duck soup, chilled tofu, and all prepared with the traditions and tastes of old Edo style. Kanda Yabu Soba is also very close to Akihabara Electric town.
2-10 Kanda Awajicho Chiyoda Tokyo
3mins walk from Awajicho Station or just hundreds meter around Akihabara Electric town
11:30-20:30 (last order 20:00)
Closed on Wednesdays
Lunch 1,000yen ~, Dinner 3,000yen ~
3. Minogasa (みのがさ) in Kanda
The interesting thing in Minogasa is carrots, fish sausage, burdock, a lot of tempura such as mackerel are lined up on the right-hand counter. As any other soba shop, it also has counter seats and table seating, but I’d recommend you to sit on the counter if you go alone, since you can see the process of how your soba is made, as well as the soup and how fresh are other ingredients
1-3-2 Kanda Izumicho Chiyoda Tokyo
3mins walk from Akihabara Station
Mondays-Fridays 6:00-19:00, Saturdays 6:00-16:00
Closed on Sundays and holidays
4. Tamawarai (玉笑) in Omotesando
Like a lot of neighborhood around Shibuya/Omotesando, Tamawarai looks a bit locale. But in Tokyo, that means you are absolutely in a treat for yourself. If you don’t understand Japanese, the staff will explain it for you, and the cozy atmosphere here is a plus. The “soba in egg soup” is the most popular, which the broth/egg combo is the best way to beat the cold during winter time. The shop also offers soba teas, which extremely goes well with the soba, brings a wonderful experience.
5-23-3 Jingumae Shibuya Tokyo
7mins walk from Meiji Jingumae Station
Tuesdays-Fridays 11:30-15:30 (last order 15:00）& 18:30-21:30（last order 21:00)
Saturdays 11:30-20:00 (last order 19:30)
Sundays 11:30-17:00 (last order 16:30）
Lunch 1,000yen ~, Dinner 5,000yen ~
5. Kyotei Daikokuya (蕎亭 大黒屋) in Asakusa
Come to Daikokuya, you can see the owner/noodle-master, Shigeo Sugano, prepares everything himself. The only thing here is you must make a reservation beforehand or you cannot enter the restaurant no matter there were customers at the time or what. However, it’s not just about the noodles, there’s a whole meal to be enjoyed, and it’s not quite what you expect, nevertheless, it would make you feel that you can easily eat this all the time. Remember that you have to make reservations in advance.
4-39-2 Asakusa Taito Tokyo
8mins walk from Asakusa Station
Closed on Mondays and Sundays
Lunch 2,000yen ~, Dinner 3,000yen ~
How to enjoy soba
Here are some kinds of soba and how to eat them:
Mori soba/ zaru soba
Cold soba on a square dish. Scoop a portion of soba noodle, dip them into tsuyu – cold dipping sauce and eat. Put green onion, ginger, and wasabi that comes with soba into the soup if you like. Most of the restaurants offer Soba-yu if you order Mori or Zaru. It’s a soba boiled water. You put this hot water in the left soba soup and drink. You will be able to taste the soba in the soup.
Warm soba in soup, the soup normally looks like normal soba soup with green onion and tenkatsu. But the way you enjoy kake soba in some areas may similar to zaru soba/ mori soba.
Soba with tempura. Shrimp and vegetables are the standard but also Kakiage is preferred as well.
Tanuki soba, Kitsune soba
Tanuki soba comes with Tenkasu and Kitsune soba comes with deep fried tofu, they may have fishcakes as toppings!
Duck soba, Curry soba
Soba with duck meat and soba with curry topping (instead or rice, we have soba!)
Soba with grated yam toppings.
Making Soba noodles
It's not known too well that anyone can make soba from scratch. In fact, it is a common hobby for Japanese people to practice, especially when we are retired. Making soba from scratch is like an art. We have to care how much water to mix or how long to knead depending on the weather and humidity of the day. It requires years to make perfect soba.
Hub Japan did an interview to the soba master Masao Ito, a local Japanese practicing soba making for over 19 years and has taught over 8,000 students. It's worth a read if you love soba and want to learn more about it. Don't forget to check out his soba making class in English. (offered by different service called WOW JAPAN Experience+) The class is about a half day, and you can learn the authentic soba recipe from a Soba master in Tokyo.
Thumbnail image is from Wikipedia