Slurping and celebration: Those were the sounds emanating from Tokyo’s historic Awajicho district late last month. The reason: Kanda Yabu Soba has risen from the ashes (literally) and is back open for business.
After the city’s oldest, most atmospheric buckwheat noodle restaurant burned down last year, there was concern that a faceless office block might go up in its place. Those fears have proved misplaced. The new Yabu Soba is, like its predecessor, only one story high, rebuilt with modern materials in place of wood.
Sadly, the beautiful little garden has been sacrificed. But the menu remains reassuringly unchanged. Kamo-nanban soba remains a Tokyo classic, with generous slices of duck cooked perfectly rare on top of the slender hand-cut noodles. So too the iconic ten-seiro soba, with the crisp patty of shrimp tempura served alongside the cold soba.
And don’t overlook the seasonal menu (in Japanese only). The winter special is kaki soba, featuring plump oysters and wakame seaweed in a delicate hot broth.
Though the patina is gone at Yabu Soba, the waitresses are still there. They bustle about in their old-school uniforms, singing out the orders in their inimitable chanting style. Tradition lives on, albeit in modern guise.
2-10 Kanda-Awajicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; 03-3251 0287; www.yabusoba.net; open 11:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. (L.O.) (closed Wed.); noodles from ¥670; no credit cards; English menu; a little English spoken.