According to investigative journalist Hirokatsu Azuma, Azuma writes, if you eat buckwheat noodles, you can be almost 100% certain you’re eating a Chinese import. About 70% of all buckwheat flour consumed in Japan is sourced from China; but the remaining 30% is served only in the highest class specialty soba restaurants [Japan Times].
Now, this all sounds like a bunch of malarkey to me, especially since the Japanese take so much pride in their culinary legacy. But, for the sake of clarity, I’ll give this writer the benefit of the doubt, being that he is Japanese and that he should know his own cuisines - sorry if I’m sounding a bit unctuous here, I’m mean, you can lead me to the water, but you can’t make me drink. I do still believe that there’re a plethora of good soba shops that use 100% Japanese grown buckwheat noodles, and today I will introduce one.
Near Jindaiji, one of the great epicenters of Japanese Edo tradition, located in a sparsely populated enclave in Tokyo, is this gem of a soba shop. It’s called Yu-sui. The restaurant itself dates back about 100 years, it’s clean, every well maintained. Even the window locks are in their original form and still work. The tables are sturdy and made of solid wood. The whole mood and atmosphere is not only pleasing to the eye, but to the soul as well, very folksy.
I opened the menu and knew immediately what to order; the large zaru soba ( cold soba). And then, just to try something different, I ordered up something called “sobagaki” which is a soba donut that you dip into this soy/mustard sauce. I can’t even begin to describe the taste, but I recommend everybody try it at least once. I enjoyed it. My last order was trout tempura ( deep fried trout) with eggplant and pumpkin. Very good. This soba was fantastic as all the ingredients were made right here in the womb of Japan, so to speak?? Not only was this soba good, but the prices on the menu were reasonable, too. Another thing I noticed was how thin and delicate each buckwheat noodle was. I was also impressed at how al dente the noodles were when I masticated every single strand of noodle that came between my teeth. Perfect. This is real Japanese soba.
This is the sobagaki
Freshly fried vegetable tempura
Green leaf tempura.
Menu's are available in English.