6 Soba Restaurants in Tokyo & Kyoto; Find Your Own Dining Style!
One standard and recommended way to enjoy soba or buckwheat noodles is to enjoy some delicious side dishes, Japanese sake and soba while spending a leisurely time. It has traditionally been held in Japan that soba restaurants that serve good soba also serve good tempura without fail. It has also been held that they serve dishes that pair well with sake. The dining style of a connoisseur is to start with sake and light dishes like “itawasa (‘kamaboko’ fish paste sausage + wasabi)” and “soba miso (roasted buckwheat seed seasoned with miso for a sweet and savory flavor)” which are relatively light and not too filling. Then, lastly slurp some soba noodles to top off the meal. Photo: flickr.com
Here, we introduce recommended soba restaurants that are perfect in discovering your own style of enjoying soba.
1. Namiki Yabu Soba
Having opened in 1913, it is a famous soba restaurant in Asakusa. It is relatively close to the Kaminari-mon and many international tourists who visit Asakusa stop by this restaurant as well. It is a simple and quaint, traditional type of restaurant. You want to try the standard “zaru soba (cold buckwheat noodles with dipping sauce)” and “kamo nanban soba (warm noodles with duck and leek).
Area: Asakusa, Tokyo, Map
2. Kanda Matsuya
It is a popular restaurant founded in 1884. It is a restaurant that has a large dining hall feel with an atmosphere that is welcoming to commoners. The retro atmosphere is nice and their customer service also superb. The soba of course is delicious, but their “oyako-don (rice bowl dish, with chicken, egg, sliced scallion, and other ingredients all simmered together in a sauce and then served on top of a large bowl of rice)” is also delicious as you can really taste the good flavors of the stock.
Yuba(tofu skin) Wasabi, tabelog.com
Yakitori (skewered chicken), tabelog.com
There are also a variety of delicious dishes like “soba miso”, “tori wasa” (chicken with wasabi), hiyashi dofu (chilled tofu), “yuba wasabi” (tofu skin with wasabi) and yakitori.
Area: Kanda, Tokyo, Map
Kamo no Tobanyaki (Duck roast on a ceramic plate), tabelog.com
Walking down the Gonnosuke zaka with Meguro station to your back, you will see the hole-in-the-wall restaurant that is located in the basement level of the building on the right.
The inside of the restaurant is by no means spacious, but it does not feel oppressive; rather, it feels very comforting. The slightly thin noodles and elegant flavor is of unwavering deliciousness. It is a restaurant where you can sit alone and relax while enjoying soba and other dishes along with some sake.
Area: Meguro, Tokyo, Map
4. Iwamoto Q
Based on their policy to “prioritize freshness; strive for ‘just boiled’ and ‘just fried’”, they have appeared as a revolutionary of the “tachigui-soba” a soba stand where people dine standing up by a counter table. Since then, Iwamoto Q has steadily been increasing in popularity.
Their mori soba, a most basic style of soba dish with no toppings, is reasonably priced in the 300 yen price range. The price along with the tastiness of their tempura is very well received. Their set menu of soba and a rice bowl dish is sure to make you full. Their first branch in Kabukicho is open 24 hours with many international customers as well. Why not stop by if you are in the area.
This is without a doubt one of the top soba restaurants in Kyoto with a one-star in the Michelin Guide of the Kansai Area as well as a Bib Gourmand.
The interior of the store, which is made from a traditional townhouse that has been renovated, has a courtyard making the atmosphere very open and tasteful. Their coarsely ground soba and their slightly white “zaru” soba is both jyuwari, meaning it is all buckwheat and does not use any flour. Their side dishes are all beautiful and tasty. The “dashi maki”, a rolled omelet seasoned with stock, is particularly recommended for the full and sophisticated flavors of the dashi or stock.
Soba Dofu, tabelog.com
The Popular Dish, Dashi Maki, tabelog.com
Their sobayu (hot water that the noodles were boiled in; it is usually murky white) is also made gluten-free. Do note though that, once they sell out of soba, they close for the day. So if you want to be sure, it’s better to expect to wait in line; get there at 11:00 before the restaurant opens. Of course, this restaurant is well worth the wait.
Area: Kuramaguchi, Kyoto, Map
6. Sobano Mi Yoshimura
It is easily accessible from the Gojo Station on the subway line. It is a restaurant that lets you enjoy handmade soba at a reasonable price.
They also offer English and Chinese menus so there are many international customers. You can relax amidst the Kyoto style interior and leisurely space. They have the jyuwari soba, which is soba made purely of buckwheat, to filling combo menus, and other variety of dishes. Of the two stories, one floor has a glass walled workshop where visitors can see how the soba is made.
This may be a perfect restaurant for overseas visitors who are interested in soba.
Area: Gojo Station, Kyoto, Map
Open 7 days a Week
There is more information on the gluten free, “jyuwari soba” here: 9 Tokyo Restaurants & Confectioners Offering Gluten Free Options