When it comes to food, J-dramas had thus far introduced me to the likes of okonomiyaki, and recently, I watched an old(ish) one called Attention Please 「アテンションプリーズ」 about a girl rocker training to be a cabin attendant with JAL whose fav haunt is at a restaurant owned by her classmate’s dad serving tenzaru soba and ebi tempura.  

So, I asked a friend I was meeting tonight if he knew a good tenzaru soba place. He didn’t really know one in Shibuya but after looking up tabelog.com, we headed out to the flagship Tokyu department store nearby at this place called Nagasaka Sarashina 「永坂更科」. Little did we know this is a branch of a Tokyo establishment that has been around for 200 years. The family specialises in a paler version of soba (sarashina soba) which is somewhat white (like vermicelli, almost) which is made from only the seeds of the buckwheat kernel, and was well-loved by the ladies of Edo in them days. Apparently.

I had one that had both bog standard (kikōchi soba) and the sarashina soba, and this comes with tempura comprising prawn (ebi), eggplant (nasu), sweet potato and sweet green chilli (shishitōgarashi). Two small pots of dipping sauces (tsuyu) were provided – ‘hot’ (not really) and sweet, as well as a tiny dollop of wasabi and finely sliced onions.

There’s a way to eat tenzaru soba. The noodles are served cold (well, at room temperature, and not cold cold) to stop them sticking together. You pick up a morsel of soba with your chopsticks, and dip it into the tsuyu, and eat it. With relish[1]. Once you finish it, you add soba yu – the hot water used to make the soba in the first place (I love the concept of how any ingredient used in preparing food is not wasted – take the tenkatsu miso soup as another example) – into the bowl of leftover tsuyu and mix it to make a soup. You may add any leftover sliced onions or even the wasabi for that added oomph.

Another dish which was a first was oden – a soupy (made with dashi), Japanese version of the yong tow foo. Kinda.

This is a traditional winter dish and the one we ordered contained a boiled egg, fish cakes, konnyaku (konjac) and daikon radish. The konjac and daikon were… kinda interesting, but I surprised even myself[2]. If you like, you could add some karashi, the mustard that you add in nattō, to the oden mix.

As this was my first time, I can’t really say this is the place to go for soba, but I think it’s a pretty good place to try!

Nagasaka Sarashina
TOKYU Main Store
8F 2-24-1
Tōkyō 150-0002

nagasakasarasina.co.jp/ (English site)

[1]Not of the hamburger varie… never mind.
[2]Pick eater – that’s me.