When we think about Japanese food, we assume Japanese people always eat “rice”. That’s true to some point, but in fact, Japan is also famous for its various kinds of noodles. Besides western style pasta, there are “ramen” and “udon”, “somen” and “soba”. This time, I would like to introduce “soba” buckwheat noodles that are recently trending in Europe and the US!
My friends and I visited the noodle restaurant “Nogizaka Chojuan” located in “Nogizaka” (maybe you have heard of “Nogizaka” because of the Japanese idol group). This restaurant was awarded the “Chairman’s Prize of the Minato Ward Shopping Street Federation” in 2016. In other words, it’s an award-winning, delicious restaurant! Perfect!
“Soba” is different from “udon noodles” that made from wheat flour only. Soba noodles are made of (or with) buckwheat flour. The history of soba is very long: it’s one of the most famous Japanese food, commonly eaten especially at New Years, but it is not known so much in foreign countries.
However, recently soba noodles are being recognized as a healthy diet, and bloggers’ come up with creative soba recipes, like “soba salad (“Otsu salad”)” etc. Using soba for healthy food options is gaining popularity.
(★ There are several kinds of soba. Some are made of 100% buckwheat flour, some are mixed with wheat flour. If you are allergic to wheat, please check the percentage of buckwheat used for the noodles!)
“Chojuan” in Nogizaka is a noodle restaurant with a Japanese and Western mixed interior. There are no low tables, so it’s perfect if you have problems with you legs or knees. The menu is fantastic with a lot of options: no matter with how many friends (with different tastes) you come in, there’s a menu that fits every taste. No worries!
They have duck soba, tempura soba, soba with curry and a deep-fried cutlet (“katsuretsu”) topping and great lunch sets (only available from 11 o’clock to 14 o’clock). The price is about 1000 yen on average. At night, they also serve sake and snacks.
The biggest point is whether to choose “hot soba noodles” or “cold soba noodles”. If you choose “hot” your noodles will some in a soup, if you choose “cold” the noodles will be brought on something like a square strainer.
I love soup, but unless it’s a very cold day, I would recommend choosing cold soba. That is because I get the impression that you can taste the unique flavor of buckwheat. Take a some of the buckwheat noodles with your chopsticks and hold it in your “tsuyu” pot (dipping pot with sauce in it). You don’t have to completely soak the noodles – but it’s really up to you and how you like it. You can chance the taste of the dipping sauce by adding spices, like wasabi. Eating noodles with chopsticks need a little bit of practice, but soba tends to be not as slippery as for example “udon noodles”. I’m sure you’ll manage to eat your soba noodles somehow! ^ ^
I had a set with tempura: a very common combination. Not only the award-winning soba, but also the tempura was very tasty! I also tried soba with “kochi” rice cakes for the first time and it was also very delicious.
When you finish your soba, something like a teapot comes out. It’s “sobayu” – the cooking water of the noodles. Fill it in your dipping pot and drink it – it’s supposed to be very good for your health. ^ ^
The atmosphere of the restaurant is bright and the food wonderful. I’m sure that I’ll take my friends and family here when the come to visit from Germany next time.
How about trying one of the “hidden” famous dishes of Japan?
1-15-18 Minami Aoyama Minato-ku, Tokyo
The nearest station is Nogisaka Station (metro Chiyoda Line).
From Exit 3, go up to the top of the overpass, turn around and walk about 1 minute.
It is also close from Tokyo Midtown (“Roppongi Station” of the Toei Oedo Line).