Arrive at Aoyama Kawakami-an at midday and you’ll find a typical upmarket noodle shop — as quiet and genteel as you’d expect of any restaurant in the residential backstreets around Omotesando. But return after nightfall and it has a very different feel.
The specialty here is soba, buckwheat noodles prepared fresh daily, just as they are at the original branch of Kawakami-an, up in the mountains of Nagano Prefecture. These are served cold, either on their own as seiro soba (served on a bamboo tray); with tempura (ten-seiro); or with warm duck broth on the side (kamo-seiro). A range of side dishes are also available if you’re planning on lingering a bit longer.
In the evening, though, the menu flips. Kawakami-an turns into a full restaurant, with an extensive menu of appetizers and main dishes ranging from fish to pork or wagyu. Soba is still served, but now it’s more an afterthought, a dish to close the meal.
You’ll also find a substantial list of sake and wine, a bar where you can linger till the wee hours, and even the occasional DJ event. No wonder this has become such a popular hangout for the hip and well-groomed late-night Aoyama set — just as its sister branch has in Azabu-Juban (kawakamian.com).
Soba from ¥920, set lunch menus from ¥1,300, dinner a la carte; Japanese menu; some English spoken
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5