Arriving at Kamiyama could hardly be more atmospheric. The entrance is set into a black wooden wall along a quiet residential side street. Ankle-high traditional lamps illuminate a short flight of bamboo-fringed flagstones, leading to a sliding wooden door hidden behind a dark noren (entrance curtain).
It's hard to believe you are just steps away from the brashness of Shibuya's Center-Gai. You have come to eat soba noodles, but it feels more like entering a ceremonial tea house.
Once inside, stairs lead down to beautifully spot-lit dining room, where you take your place at a large communal table split down the middle by a long thin strip of pebbles and foliage.
The soba is teuchi (made fresh by hand), finely cut and served in portions that are dainty — barely enough for a hefty appetite on their own. Thankfully, at lunch you can order set meals, which include a small rice bowl and salad to go with your noodles.
And in the evening, Kamiyama offers a selection of side dishes, from soft, savory tamagoyaki (rolled omelet) to grilled chicken and even wagyu steak. But, of course, everything is designed to encourage you to linger. Order a set meal (¥4,000 or ¥5,000) and settle in for the duration.