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Kanda is crammed with revered restaurants

by Robbie Swinnerton

The narrow pocket of Kanda comprising Sudacho and Awajicho boasts half a dozen restaurants that are among the most venerable in Tokyo. Like Botan, the buildings date from the late 1920s, boast superb wooden architecture and have improbably survived the bombs of war and the clutches of the redevelopers.

The granddaddy of them all is Isegen, which has been cooking up robust anko nabe (monkfish hot-pot) since 1830. It is so old-school it doesn’t take reservations (get there early or expect to wait) or credit cards. In summer, when the menu focuses on river fish, it is usually easier to get a table.

Right across the street, Takemura is a wonderful tea shop that serves traditional confections with lashings of atmosphere. Just the place to linger before or after a hearty nabe meal. A few doors down, Kemuri‘s humble facade belies its beautifully restored timber interior, a fine setting for an evening of eats and drinks in casual izakaya tavern style.

Two of Tokyo’s finest purveyors of hand-cut soba noodles lie close at hand. Kanda Yabu is the more patrician and famous, standing proudly in its low-rise little compound. Matsuya is more intimate and down to earth, and its prices even more affordable. Both are classics of their genre.

Isegen: 1-11-1 Kanda-Sudacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; (03) 3251-1229; r.gnavi.co.jp/p669700. Takemura: 1-19 Kanda-Sudacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; (03) 3251-2328. Kemuri: 1-11-5 Kanda-Sudacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; (03) 5294-0035; kemuriknd.exblog.jp. Kanda Yabu Soba: 2-10 Kanda-Awajicho, Minato-ku, Tokyo; (03) 3251-0287; www.yabusoba.net. Kanda Matsuya: 1-13 Kanda-Sudacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; (03) 3251-1556; www.kanda-matsuya.jp/p01.htm.