The narrow backstreets of Kagurazaka boast an embarrassment of dining choices. This bustling traditional entertainment district offers great Japanese, a profusion of French and some excellent Italian restaurants, too. When it comes to noodles, though, only one name matters: Kyorakutei.

You'll know you've found it when you see the gaggle of people outside: Some are waiting in line for seats to free up, others have stopped simply to gaze at the small grinder in the window revolving slowly but constantly as it mills coarse buckwheat grains into a light, fine flour.

Arrive at the right time of day and you can also watch as a chef carefully kneads this freshly ground flour into a dough, rolls it out thin and then painstakingly slices it by hand into delicate noodles. This teuchi (hand-cut) soba is Kyorakutei's calling card, and it draws customers from well beyond the immediate vicinity.