Food & Drink | TOKYO FOOD FILE

Kamiyama: Soba noodles offer respite from the chaos of the city

by Robbie Swinnerton

Special To The Japan Times

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.