Nagasaka Sarashina, Tokyo
January 7, 2014
On April 8, 2013, Toshio, Linda and I went for lunch to Nagasaka Sarashina. This 200-year-old soba shop has been in the same family for nine generations. It is famous for its pure, white sarashina noodles.
The entry is in the corner of a building on Azabu-Juban, a street near Roppongi Hills known for its restaurants and food shops.
The décor is quite simple with well spaced tables.
We ordered Kamotsuru sake from Hiroshima. For nibblies with it we had pickled, dried marinated daikon and fried soba sticks.
We ordered the Tenzaru, meaning Mori Soba, or cold soba noodles, served on a bamboo rack (zaru) in a lacquer box, with fresh tempura in a separate dry box.
Nagasaka Sarashina offers Gozen Soba, made from buckwheat that has been polished to the core resulting in a silky sheen. (On the right in the photo.) It also offers Kikouchi Soba, 100% buckwheat, (on the left) and traditional Tahei Soba made with 80% buckwheat and 20% wheat flour. Buckwheat dough is difficult to handle; addition of wheat makes it easier to make everyday soba. We could choose one or two of the three sobas, which, of course, were cooked to order. The Mori Soba was served with two dipping sauces, amakuchi (sweet) and karakuchi (spicy). (Upper left in the upper photo.) Under the little dish with wasabi and julienned green onions is an empty sauce jar. One puts the sauces and garnishes in it as one wants and then dips in a mouthful of the soba noodles before eating. One advantage of serving the noodles cold is that they do not stick together. Hot soba is usually served in a soup to avoid sticking. Despite the refinement of the Gozen Soba, Toshio and I preferred the more definite buckwheat taste and firmer texture of the Kikouchi Soba.
The fresh tempura included shrimp, sweet potato, eggplant and a shishito pepper. One could use the same dipping sauces. The hot crispness of the tempura batter made a nice contrast with the soba.
To continue we had Migaki Nishin, dried herring which has been rehydrated and cooked with soy sauce, sake and mirin. It was topped with a shiitake and shredded scallions.
Toshio then ordered oden, a winter dish with a boiled egg, daikon, cabbage and other interesting things in a pot with a light soy-flavored dashi broth.
The oden made the meal seem more substantial after the lightness of the soba and tempura.
A lacquer teapot with hot soba cooking water was then put on the table. One adds it to the remaining sauce to make a soup.
We had a very good time relaxing, conversing and enjoying good examples of soba, one of Japan’s basic traditional cuisines. Toshio laments that the number of good soba restaurants in Tokyo is steadily shrinking, the impact of the invasion of ‘ramen’ and the relative high cost of soba.
1-8-7 Azabu-Juban, Minato-ku.