Founded in 1913, Namiki Yabusoba is one of Tokyo’s most well-known soba shops, conveniently located close to the Senso-ji temple in Asakusa. Despite being so near to a major tourist attraction, the restaurant was reassuringly devoid of any sign of having compromised its standards or authenticity in an attempt to attract tourists. Half of the seating is on tatami mats - with no hole in the ground to place one’s legs of course; the menu is on the wall, only in Japanese; and the staff barely spoke a word of English.
I had the Cold Tempura Shin-Soba. The soba was awesome - freshly hand-made from newly-harvested buckwheat, it was thin and springy, a touch sweet, with a lovely flavour, texture and consistency.
In hindsight, however, I should perhaps have opted for something simpler like the Cold Zaru Shin-Soba – Soba noodles topped with seaweed. Not that the tempura was bad; far from it – it was light and crisp, and dare I say, better than the tempura at world-famous Ten-ichi, but I was not given a separate bowl of sauce for the tempura, so it had to be dipped into the soba tsuyu, the soba dipping sauce, detracting slightly from the purity and lightness of the dipping sauce, and by extension, my enjoyment of the excellent soba.
We went before midday and were able to walk straight in but when we left, still relatively early in the afternoon, there was a healthy queue already building outside the restaurant. Long queues aren’t so much for a problem here though – soba is fast food after all, and this is not a place to linger – service is brisk, and the seating is far from comfortable, especially for those not accustomed to sitting cross-legged on tatami mats, so turnover should be relatively quick.
In a nutshell…
Outstanding. Good location, great value, quaint setting and most importantly superb soba.
2-11-9 Kaminarimon, Taito-ku, Tokyo
+81 03 38411340
Average Price: ¥1000-¥1500