The end of the year, in which people eat toshikoshi soba (soba noodles to see off the old year) after the new soba season, is certainly a time in which people feel drawn to soba. Even after drinking to one’s heart content at an end-of-year party, people want to then slurp down some soba and feel it going down their throats. Here, the members of our editorial staff would like to introduce enjoyable soba and drinking restaurants for soba fans. These include restaurants that can be used as the first of the day where guests can get a quick drink in the afternoon, as well as restaurants that they’ll want to drop by after drinking.
Yuzutsu / Daikanyama recommended by Suzu, who is really into having relaxing drinks
Nightly Enjoyable Sake and Soba - Enjoy new sensations that combine Japanese x French cuisines
Soba is strongly associated with Japanese food, but there are restaurants out there where guests can eat unconventional soba courses that incorporate French cuisine, such as Yuzutsu. This restaurant is located a 3-minute walk from Daikanyama Station. You might think that such a restaurant would have a Kyoto-townhouse restaurant-style exterior and ukiyo-e prints hanging on the walls, but the chairs and utensils are all French brands. This already gave me high expectations for this unusual combination. We quickly requested the Nightly Enjoyable Sake and Soba, which lets you enjoy soba combined with terrine from the famous French restaurant Les Enfants Gâtés.
The terrine with chicken and pig's trotter has delicate and refreshing flavors with citrus sudachi on top. The addition of French cuisine is certainly a rare combination, but it goes surprisingly well with the Japanese courses. When we asked the restaurant about it, they said the addition of French food was specially thought of to go well with Yuzutsu's noodles. The course flowed naturally into the main course of two types of buckwheat noodles: pure buckwheat soba and coarsely ground organic buckwheat soba. The Burdock Tempura is also popular with carefully selected Japanese sake and shochu. We recommend dropping by here and enjoying a new combination of food and space, along with stylish moments.
Access: 3 minutes walk from Daikanyama station
Soba Osame - recommended by Shukubo, who loves having many dishes with small quantities / Mejiro
Eat and compare local varieties of soba in an old house
The day we visited, we ordered the Luxurious Soba Course (5,500 JPY) for lunch. we really enjoyed the appetizer assortments that go well with sake, like the Minced Buckwheat Mash, Tofu Skin Sashimi, and Scallop marinated in saikyo miso, in addition to their specialty Tamago-yaki (Japanese omelette) that uses ingredients found in soba. we waited impatiently for the soba, of which they have 3 varieties served in order: basket steamer, minced, and genbiki (soba made with aged course ingredients), all of which let you enjoy the delicious and rich flavors of each local variety. We definitely want to keep visiting this restaurant to try out their daily-changing varieties of soba.
Access: 7 minutes walk from Mejiro Station
Sobakiri Uchiba - recommended by Terami, whose motto is “Brown is the right choice” / Aomono Yokocho
Here you freely enjoy authentic handmade soba. This famous restaurant revolutionizes the concept of soba that is eaten while standing
There are very few restaurants out there that you can really say serve inexpensive and delicious food. We first found this restaurant while in the middle of a walk and decided to drop by after we saw the beautiful soba making that can be seen from outside the restaurant.
What surprised us about this restaurant was that it was making authentic soba, but it was a soba restaurant where guests ate while standing. The soba fragrances floating through the restaurant and the surprising tap-tap sound of soba being cut made me start thinking that we were in a high-class soba restaurant, except I was standing right there in a restaurant like this.
Because Nihachi (soba noodles made with a 2:8 ratio of udon and buckwheat flours) is a premium soba, the idea of a hand-made Nihachi soba restaurant where guests eat while standing might sound really confusing. But this restaurant brings its best with overwhelmingly high-quality soba. As it’s Nihachi soba, the thick-cut noodles and delicious flavors that you can chew thoroughly go through your nose, and the delicious flavors spread through your mouth. The ingredients with tempura and mountain vegetables certainly caught my attention, but we don't know any other restaurant where Soba takes the lead like this.
Nevertheless, the true value this restaurant offers is the complete lack of compromise on ingredients. Their options, including the elaborate limited edition menu items, the tempura with a highly seasonal feel that uses maitake mushrooms, and the Rural Soba, a pure buckwheat soba limited to 10 meals on weekends, all already surpass the level I'd expect from a stand-and-eat restaurant. Here, I felt a character similar to long-standing soba restaurants.
Maybe we don't need to mention this, but the restaurant has a full collection of the masterpiece manga Sobamon, the bible for Japanese soba fans. The time and effort to make the soba, as well as the serving time, are a bit longer compared to standard stand-and-eat soba restaurants, so we recommend reading this manga while waiting.
Ordinary prices and extraordinary flavors. When someone says this, we want to recommend Sobakiri Uchiba.
Azabujuban Soba Izakaya Sobagoya - recommended by Nakano, who wants to drink until morning / Azabujuban
Open until 5AM! Guests can enjoy delicious sake and soba any time they go
Sobagoya is open all night from 11:30 am to 5:00 am, making it perfect for casually entering when you want a light drink in the afternoon and for using as a second restaurant after drinking. The wide range of usability is also incredibly appealing. You'll want to try the soba first. You can choose from 2 varieties: the Genbiki Soba, prepared on a stone mill with buckwheat wrapped in a black shell, and the Marunuki Soba, made with shaved buckwheat skin. The Genbiki Soba enhances the shell textures and soba fragrances, and you can fully enjoy the flavors of the soba itself. You can choose from 3 kinds of noodle thickness: fine, medium-fine, and thick. We highly recommend the standard medium-fine noodles. The delicious dipping sauce combined with duck fat was strong and made us feel hungry.
One item that we can't forget about is the minced domestic duck. They use cherry valley duck, and compared to chicken meat, it is fatty and thick. However, it has a low melting point, meaning it is soft and melts easily in my mouth, and it has extremely good flavors. It can be eaten simply with salt or soy sauce and goes perfectly with any Japanese sake. We definitely recommend this restaurant, as you can experience delicious duck. Even on days when we don't drink, we want to visit just to have the minced duck.
Azabujuban Soba Izakaya Sobagoya
Azabuyama Soan Mitate - recommended by Shima, an adult girl / Azabujuban
The ultimate trio of soba x champagne x amazing tuna
The performance of soba being made before my eyes as we entered the restaurant was the highlight of my visit. The freshly made soba is thinly cut but firm and springy, and the rich fragrances that use local varieties of soba go through your nose. As the pictures show, the real charm of Mitate is being able to enjoy different sizes of soba.
The course we ordered on the day of my visit featured Soba-mae (7 varieties), Tuna Rice Bowl with Freshly Cooked Rice, and Soba with Female Snow Crab. They only serve courses early in the day, but they are open until somewhat late. A la carte items can be enjoyed from 8:30 pm on weekdays, making this restaurant handy for using as a second restaurant during a night out.