Sudachilocious Soba at Dosanjin Tokyo
What’s your favorite Japanese food? Soba is definitely on top of my list, especially in summer. I tend to save ramen for cold winter days, especially because I love the rich tonkotsu broth and it is a bit too heavy for hot and humid days. Soba on the other hand is perfect: it’s light, refreshing and nutritious meal if you are in the mood for slurping. Unlike ramen and udon noodles, soba is made of buckwheat flour which makes it a perfect guilt-free dish – buckwheat is so healthy and good for you!
We’re lucky to have a few mom-and-pop authentic soba shops in our neighborhood which I am keen to frequent on lunch breaks. In fact, there are so many soba restaurants around Japan that it is virtually impossible to pick “the best” (same applies to ramen, tonkatsu and other casual meals). You just have to find your favorite. But you know me, a perpetual food enthusiast at heart, I love experimenting and checking out new spots.
I recently met up with wonderful Sit and we spent the entire afternoon eating. For the savory part of our foodie adventures we headed to Dosanjin – a quaint soba joint nestled on the ground floor of an apartment building in Nakameguro. We had to wait for 30-40 minutes in line (I recommend you come right before opening time to have a better chance as scoring a table right away) and were ushered inside to our counter seats.
The decor perfectly balances modern and traditional Japanese aesthetic, and is furnished with contemporary seating and natural wood furniture. I also loved the artisan hand-picked dishware that was used to served the guests as well as decorate the rooms. If you choose to sit by the table inside, you’ll have a view of the minimalist Japanese rock garden.
The place is helmed by Eiji Watanabe who opened this cozy shop specializing in soba noodles in 1998. Soba noodles are freshly made every day using traditional methods and are very fresh. You can even see a room dedicated to soba making at the entrance to the restaurant.
You can order a la carte (limited English menu available) or opt for the lunch set, like we did. It included the specialty of the shop – sudachi soba, as well as salad, tofu and the crispy fried tempura on the side served with a bowl of salt, grated wasabi and sliced green onions. We also ordered their delicious tamago to split – beauty of eating out with a partner, you try a lot of things. It was light and delicious. I also quite enjoyed vegetable tempura, which was cooked to perfection and not greasy or heavy at all.
Although nothing steals the show from soba. You can order different variations, served cold or with a hot broth. Thickness of noodles also depends on whether the soba is made with coarse or fine flour. Sudachi soba is a specialty of the shop. In summer, it is served in a cold broth which has rich citrus-y flavor, and the soba noodles are covered with thin slices of sudachi – Japanese citrus reminiscent of lime, with a more bitter taste. It brings wonderful brightness to the broth.
You are supposed to scoop out the slices in a few minutes before enjoying the scrumptious noodles. The texture of the noodles was excellent – gorgeous al dente, chewy, and nutty. I also loved the broth (tsuyu) and couldn’t help drinking it after I finished my noodles. We were told that the same broth served hot in winter brings out completely different flavors, so I cannot wait to return and try it again. We also saw how Watanabe-san was preparing maki rolls with interesting fillings including soba noodles! So I’ll definitely try that next time. If you want to try quality soba with an interesting flavor profile, I’m sure Dosanjin won’t disappoint.