Eating soba, or buckwheat noodle in new year eve (Dec.31) is a traditon in Japan, this was my first time staying in Japan for Japanese New Year, of course i cannot miss out the chance to experience the local tradition. Oh yeah…just an excuse to eat more 😀 Rather than the normal soba sold at any supermarkets or any standard Japanese restaurants which are made by machine, i much prefer those are stone grounded and hand pulled.
There are six Michelin-starred sobaya (soba restaurants) in Tokyo, all with only one star. I have been to two of them, one is by far my favorite and another one really sucks, namely, Tamawarai (玉笑) near Shibuya, and Soba Sasuga (流石) in Ginza. After doing some research, i finally decided to go the bib-gourmanded Gimpachi-tei Yazawa for my new year soba, a traditonal sobaya opened early in 1976. Gimpachi-tei Yazawa locates in Katsushika-ku, where is 30 minutes by train from Tokyo, a bit far but really worth going.
Address: 1-27-8 Kameari, Katsushika-ku, Tokyo 東京都葛飾区亀有1-27-8
Hours: 11:30-14:30; 17:00-19:30 or when the day’s stock runs out; Closed Thursday and 3rd Wednesday
Reservation is highly recommended. There are always more than 20 people queuing in the shop front, and it is very highly possible that the soba is sold out when it comes your turn. Their most famous soba Inakaya-zenro 田舎せいろ(JPY 1000), which is stone-grouned, and hand cut, Is limited 20 servings everyday. In case it is sold out, get the Zenro-soba (JPY 900) which is machine-cut.
I made a reservation a week in advance for the Inakaya-zenro.
I ordered two small appetizers to start with. Soba miso is great with sake. It was not that salty as most soba miso, and has a lovely sweet hint. The buckwheat inside was crunchy and fragrance. Yuba sashimi, or tofu skin, is a dish i must order when i eat soba. Naturally sweet and creamy, simple and awesome.
This is a special order because Japanese usually eat Inakaya-zenro without tempura,and tempura is usually matches with the noraml soba set ‘Zenro-soba’ only.
The tempura consists of mushroom, eggplant, peppers, pumpkin and two prawns. Very traditional combination and was well-done. The skin was cirpsy and not too oily. Not the best tempura i have had but definitely a nice try.
Inakaya-zenro uses buckwheat from Hokkaido, it is very aromatic and the real buckwheat praticles gives a lovely rustic texture, i really loved the chewy soba – delicious and healthy. Possibly the best soba i have had in Tokyo, top.1 with Tamawarai.
The warm soba soup served at last was to be remembered. Very creamy and flavorful with the left soy sauce in the bowl which used for soba dipping just now. This part totally beat Tamawarai. I cannot belive myself finished the entire pot of soup, it was quite large.
Despite the suburb location, it was still very enjoyable soba feast.