Soba is always my preferred choice for a light and satisfying lunch. Which soba restaurant I choose in the physically huge city of Tokyo depends on where I will be at lunch time. Today’s lunch was at Nanaki in Ebisu (3 minutes walk from JR Ebisu station) because I was visiting my mom. My mom, who lives in the neighborhood, took me there some years ago. Since then Nanaki has been one of my favorites.
The inside of the restaurant has an antique look or in a straightforward way, no charm; well used very basic, no fringes dark colored tables and chairs darkened by age in an already dark room; no air-conditioning during hot and humid summer. Nanaki restaurant specializes soba from Togakushi in Nagano-Prefecture (the Winter Olympics was held in this area several years ago). Their noodles are known as thick, rough textured and with very good soba flavor. I ordered Kamo-nanban zaru soba – cold soba placed on a bamboo tray served with hot broth with sliced duck breast and Japanese naganegi long green onion in it. The very hot liquid in which soba is cooked (sobayu) is served in a red lacuquerware pot with long beak. It is a wonderful way to finish a soba meal with sobayu. This is how I do it: Pour some sobayu into a tea cup (ask the server) and flavor it with little remaining soba broth. In this way you do not finish all the remaining soba broth because the broth is very high in salt content becasue of its shoyu base. If you drink all of the broth you are consuming too much salt in one meal.
Soba is also seasonal like other produce or rice. The buckwheat berry is harvested during mid-September. Soba flour made from this harvest (now it is the time to enjoy it!) produces the most savory, wonderful tasting noodles. If you happen to be in Japan, enjoy the special treat! Hiroko, Tokyo