Review Score: 80 / 100.
I must admit, of all the noodles offered in Japan, I would always go for Soba. I’m not sure why, but there’s something elegant about its simplicity. Cold buckwheat noodles dipped into a delicately sweet dipping sauce plus some shavings of radish and spring onions. It truly highlights the quality of the ingredients, and there’s nowhere for it to hide.
This is my first outing at Michelin starred Soba restaurant, which is a short walk away from the longest covered shopping arcade in Japan i.e. Tenjinbashisuji Shotengai, or Tenroku for locals. We were walking down a quiet little street, and found the restaurant tucked unassumingly within an austere wooden facade, with a sliding door leading into a restaurant with a large and beautifully lacquered Cedar dining table. We waited for about 10 minutes before being seated, and ordered the Tenzaru Soba set for 2000 yen, which seems like a steal for a restaurant of this repute.
Behold, the gloriously beautiful Tenzaru soba, which is cold soba noodles served with an assortment of tempura dishes. I had opted for the Inaka soba, which was made from whole buckwheat flour with the chaff included. The other option would be the Mori, which is regular soba made from Marunuki flour. The soba was beautiful with the perfect al dente texture, and served at an appropriate, cool temperature. The dipping sauce was also very delicate and served as a perfect complement to the soba noodles.
What surprised me was the immaculately prepared tempura, which was lightly battered without any hint of oiliness to it. The ingredients were also of top quality, from the perfectly cooked and sweet Ebi or shrimp, as well as the crunchy and well prepared eggplant. But what knocked my socks off was the sliver of sweet corn tempura, which was magnificent and brimming with natural sweetness. It was absolutely brilliant, and wondered why it was never replicated before.
As a final touch, the leftover cooking liquid from the soba was poured into the soba sauce, which formed a nice hearty broth, augmented and thickened by the starch from the cooking liquid. This was definitely a first for me, and was actually quite a comforting end to a perfect lunch.
This was definitely quite an experience, and one that made me and my Japanese friend grin from ear to ear. For an establishment of this caliber with a homey environment, serving one of the best soba and tempuras that one might ever have, was definitely something else. I’ll be returning here very soon indeed.
Location: 7-12-14 Tenjinbashi, Kita-ku, Osaka. +816-6882-8844. Website.