Soba, a meal that is one of the representatives of Japanese food, has been eaten as a fast food in Japan since the Edo period (1603-1868) and now in Tokyo there are thousands of restaurants. Here are some that you should definitely try during your trip.
1. If you're sightseeing in Asakusa or at Tokyo Skytree (R), go to Azumabashi Yabu Soba
Asakusa and Tokyo Skytree (R) are one station away from each other, about a 30 minute walk. If you get hungry on the way, stop at Azumabashi Yabu Soba at the foot of Komagatabashi. the inside of the store is wide and has a calming atmosphere. They make their soba in-store every morning, and it's characteristics are its good flavor and springy texture. There are two kinds of tsuyu dipping broths available, the rich soy sauce flavor or the sweet sesame flavor. Among their best dishes is their morisoba that comes in large (2,200 JPY), medium (1,500 JPY), and small (800 JPY), as well as their sesame soba (900 JPY). They're open until 4 PM but they close when they run out of soba, so it's better to go early in the day. There is often a line.
*Photo for illustration purposes.
2. Eat at the main branch of Toranomon's well-established restaurant, Nadai Osakaya Sunaba
Ever since Toranomon Hills, a complex that includes a hotel, was built, visitors to the Toranomon area have increased. That area also boasts the well-established shop Nadai Osakaya Sunaba that has been in business since 1872. The building still has an antique-looking facade and the wooden structure gives it a warm atmosphere. There are about 80 seats, and it's filled with a calm, relaxed atmosphere.
The soba has a high-quality taste and texture, and the recommended items are morisoba (720 JPY), nishokukiri in which you can enjoy both white and black soba (900 JPY), and tenseiro (starting at 1,150 JPY). They have a large menu with dishes other than soba, so you can enjoy a casual meal there along with a few drinks. You can leave the soba for last! It is very crowded during weekday lunch hours so it would be good to go here for an early dinner.
3. Tamawarai, a Michelin starred soba restaurant
Tamawarai is a Michelin starred soba restaurant in the Meiji-Jingu/Harajuku/Omotesando area. The owner is so passionate about soba that he grows his own buckwheat in Tochigi, harvests it, grinds it, kneads it, and cuts it into noodles himself. The soba made from such carefully chosen ingredients fills your mouth with the mellow, slightly sweet flavor the moment you take a bite. The menu has dishes such as arabiki seiro (1,080 JPY (incl. tax)), atsumori seiro (1,080 JPY (incl. tax)), and more.
People who like sake can't miss the recommendations of sake that goes best with soba the owner made! They also have snacks that go well with liquor, so please try it. Many soba restaurants close early, so the fact that they're open until 9:30 pm on weekdays is helpful.
4. Sanmonmae Momijiya, a soba restaurant in a three-starred sightseeing area
The Michelin Green Guide Japan rates sightseeing areas and gave Tokyo's Mt. Takao three stars. In that area, there are many old soba restaurants, and the area's famous dish is soba that is topped with tororo, Japanese yam that's been grated into a sticky paste. The most recommended restaurant in the area is Sanmonmae Momijiya, a restaurant that even Paul McCartney has visited. It stands before the mountain gates of Takaosan Yakuouin temple and you can eat there before or after you climb the mountain as a meal or just stop in for a quick break. Other than their tororo soba (900 JPY), their other well-known dish is tengu soba (1,300 JPY). Their fat, chewy soba is topped with kamaboko fish paste that is printed with the mark of a tengu (Japanese goblin), and then topped with shrimp and maitake mushroom tempura and greens. If you sit by the window you can eat delicious soba while gazing out at the beautiful scenery.
5. When you don't have much time, stand and eat at Komoro Soba
Finally, when you don't have time, tachigui places (where you stand and eat) are very useful. They will almost certainly be in huge train stations or near smaller ones, so you can very quickly slurp up this traditional meal in the little time you have while you're traveling. Among all the tachigui soba restaurants in Tokyo, one of the biggest chains is Komoro Soba. The soba is refreshing and balances well with the soup, and it's extremely reasonable, with its kake soba costing 240 JPY (incl. tax). Also, they have sets with mini rice bowls (including tempura and fried pork) for about 500-600 JPY for a filling meal. There are seasonings like green onions and cayenne pepper on top of the table, so you can season it to your taste. There are actually tachigui places that also have seats, so please check where you'd like to go before you enter.
All soba restaurants offer different preferences in their noodle texture, soup taste, and toppings. It might be try to try many to see what kind of soba is your favorite. If you come to Tokyo, please try some of the soba at these famous places.
*Please note that the prices and other information in the article may not be the most up-to-date information