Soba may look simple, but these heartwarming noodles are actually quite complex, considered the most artisanal compared to ramen and udon noodles. Depending on the source of the buckwheat flour (the main ingredient in soba), how the buckwheat is milled or ground, the ratio of wheat and buckwheat flours used, and the kneading technique, the textures and flavors of the soba noodles can vary drastically. Some of the most skilled masters are known for being purists when it comes to soba, using only 100% buckwheat for the noodles. It takes time and skill to achieve this technique but it’s all worth it in the end (plus, it's gluten-free). There are also two styles of enjoying soba: the cold soba where one dips the chilled noodles in a separate sauce, and the hot soba which is served in a bowl of warm dashi-based broth accompanied with different toppings. Whether you prefer it hot or cold, soba a must-try Japanese food.
The following 5 Soba Restaurants in Tokyo are elevating their soba noodles to something like an art form, making their soba noodles in-house, using traditional methods, and some even milling or grinding their own buckwheat flour.
Considered one of the best soba restaurants in Tokyo, Kanda Matsuya serves delicious handmade soba noodles. Kanda Matsuya is also a long-standing restaurant, established in 1887 with a successful renovation in 1925. It has been said that the best way to eat their soba is with a variety of side dishes such as toasted seaweed, tempura, or yakitori. The meals are simple at Kanda Matsuya, but the flavors are rewarding. Alongside dishes such as sesame soba, natto soba, and even udon noodles, they also offer drinks like sake, beer, and whisky. With handmade soba noodles served with mouth-watering dashi-based broth, this powerhouse meal is sure to satisfy, while the traditional Japanese interior decor and the view of the chef making soba by hand immerse you in another era.
This Michelin-rated Bib Gourmand soba restaurant in Tokyo is perfect for soba noodle enthusiasts, as they can watch as Kyorakutei's chef makes teuchi (hand-cut) soba noodles from scratch. There are also two noodle options; choose between the standard soba which is made with a little wheat flour in addition to buckwheat flour and the juwari (100% buckwheat) soba which is darker in color with a nuttier fragrance. The latter is rarer, so if you go to Kyorakutei, you'll likely want to try the juwari soba. Enjoy it cold, dipping your chilled noodles into the sauce for a refreshing bite. Their soba meals are best served together with their seasonal tempura, like ayu (sweetfish) and pike conger. Other items on the menu are available if you’re feeling adventurous but the classic combination of soba and tempura never fails. Kyorakutei only takes dinner reservations, so if you come during lunchtime you'll likely find quite a lineup outside.
Tokyo Dosanjin is located along the Meguro River and is probably the perfect place to go to if you feel like eating an unusual style of soba alongside other delicious Japanese dishes. They make a special soba dish called sudachi soba, which is made with a round, green citrus fruit called sudachi, which is especially refreshing during the hot and muggy Japanese summers. This restaurant also makes its own noodles from scratch and can adjust the texture and consistency based on the customer's request, cooking it either al dente or soft. As with the other soba restaurants in Tokyo already mentioned on this list, you'll likely have to withstand a long line to get your soba noodle fix.
With limited seating capacity, Osoba no Kouga established in 1887, offers a rather intimate meal time for its guests and allows the chef to focus on the quality, rather than the quantity, of his soba dishes. He sources his buckwheat from Iruma in Saitama Prefecture and makes his own stoneground flour. To ensure the perfect texture and flavor, the chef uses a specific blend of wheat flour and buckwheat flour. Their menu also includes lunch sets and a decadent uni dish.
Nagasaka Sarasina is another soba restaurant in Tokyo that has been serving soba since the 1780s and has truly perfected its craft since then. Choose from two varieties of buckwheat noodles: the darker noodles made with ground buckwheat and the lighter, smoother noodles made with polished buckwheat grain. Choose the dipping soba and you'll receive their special dipping sauces (one sweet and one spicy) which can be mixed together to your preferred taste. Fans of tempura and all things fried should order the Nishoku Tempura Seiro, a set that includes both types of soba noodles and tempura. Or, if you like your soba hot, go for the classic Tempura Soba. If you like, you can even purchase Nagasaka Sarasino's dried soba noodles, so you can enjoy the flavors of their two types of buckwheat noodles at home.
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