Soba is a type of noodle made from buckwheat, and it's a healthy food full of rutin, an antioxidant. Here are 5 chains popular in Tokyo where you can casually enjoy cheap and delicious soba. All of these chains are great for eating quickly, so it's recommended for when you don't have much time available during your trip.
1. Nadai Fuji Soba
This large franchise has more than 110 branches within the country and even has some branches overseas. Most of the branches are near train stations, so they're very convenient for having a quick meal while you wait for your next train. As the name implies, the bulk of their menu is soba. The kisoba (soba made only with buckwheat flour and no fillers) is eaten with soup made from soy sauce from Shodo Island and freshly made dashi broth, so you should definitely try it. Another popular dish is the katsudon set (720 JPY (incl. tax)) which includes katsudon (fried pork cutlet on rice topped with eggs and onions) and one serving of soba, which is recommended for people that want a proper meal. The Nadai Fuji Soba in Asakusa, near the popular sightseeing area of Kaminarimon, has menus in different languages.
2. Komoro Soba
This chain restaurant has many branches, mostly centered in Tokyo. Their motto is "delicious, quick, and cheap," along with "clean with good service," so it's a restaurant that women also find easy to enter. They offer freshly cooked soba with freshly fried tempura. You can enjoy both at a reasonable price with their kakiage soba (360 JPY (incl. tax)). Kakiage is vegetables, small shrimp, and other ingredients dipped in batter and fried together. The Kamo Nanban (590 JPY (incl. tax)) topped with soft duck is also a must-try!
This chain restaurant works to give customers soba made from freshly ground buckwheat formed into noodles right in front of the customer's eyes in order to serve the most delicious noodles possible, so each branch makes their soba from scratch every day. They're also particular about the tsuyu broth served with the soba, and it has a slightly rich flavor that hearkens back to old times. To enjoy the flavor of the soba itself, the Mori (320 JPY (incl. tax)) is recommended since it comes with cold soba and tsuyu. Please eat it by dipping the lower half of the noodles into the tsuyu.
4. Hakone Soba
This chain restaurant has about 50 branches mostly along the Odakyu Railway train line connecting Shinjuku to Hakone, a sightseeing area in the western part of Kanagawa. Their Honjin branch in Shinjuku Station is the only place where you can try their kakiage tensoba (490 JPY (incl. tax)). Their croquette soba (500 JPY (incl. tax)) which has a croquette as a topping is also recommended. Hakone Soba's croquettes have a characteristic curry aroma to them, so you might feel like you're eating curry soba.
5. Kitamae Soba Takadaya
This chain restaurant has about 40 branches around the country. During the day, they mostly offer soba and rice bowls, but at night it changes into an izakaya (Japanese gastropub) where you can enjoy liquor. Their famous dish is the Gomasoba, soba noodles made with highly nutritious black sesame kneaded into it that they make every day in the shop. They have it in warm kakesoba (550 JPY (incl. tax)) and cold seiro soba (560 JPY (incl. tax)). Also, the Sobaya no Dashimaki Tamago (660 JPY (incl. tax)), an omelet made with dashi broth, is delicious. They have menus in foreign languages as well as bilingual staff.
In many soba chain restaurants, you order by getting a meal ticket from a machine. There are stand-and-eat restaurants as well as restaurants where customers bring their food to an open table themselves. Enjoy soba, a local fast food that's an entirely different experience from fancy restaurants.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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