Andrew’s world in Japan

Nagasaka Sarashina soba

Time honored tradition of honing a craft

What keeps most people awake at night? Is it too much coffee after 1pm? Well, it was noted one fi ne afternoon in Tokyo that it’s the craving for soba. Of course that was narrowed from the bodies natural need to keep funneling those required essential amino acids. Soba, also known as buckwheat, is one of the few foods that fulfi lls that and more. Just a fun scientifi c fact, 100 grams of soba yields 344 kcal of energy. Although it’s well known that Hokkaido is one of the main producers, this staple food is all over Japan. Exposure to healthy treats is what I’m all about. With my friends Daichi and Branda, we met our lunch guide for the day, Daichi’s friend who worked in the downtown Shibuya area. He was dead set on introducing us to the soba makers honing their craft since the Edo era, over 200 years of history under their belt. How can you argue with that? So there we were, in front of Tokyo Department store, trying to concentrate on our stomachs, avoiding the temptation to enter other buildings to shop. Full group gathered, we enter heading directly to the 8th fl oor. Fear of a long wait dissipated. Nagasaka Sarashina soba had seats available. We rapidly order a range of dishes that allowed us to sample the varieties. As the menu is focused on three kinds of soba, tahee, oxen or raw hand made, it was easy for our group of four to get the complete experience. Most Japanese I know rave about the natto grated yam side dish. Not being a huge natto fanatic it’s usually memorable, here I cannot for the life of me recall if we tried that, so I suspect not. Both the karakuchi (extrasalty) and amakuchi (sweet) dipping sauces defi nitely made it to our table. It was all business. We hovered tight over our dishes, slurping away viciously. The central theme was to eat and be off as the line of folks behind us plus the need for Daichi’s friend to return to work necessitated our pace. The best soba ever, unfortunately, I can’t wholeheartedly confi rm that, but a meal here defi nitely makes it diffi cult to eat anything less. Tainted by my irrational 360 degree perception, the environment often plays a huge role in my culinary enjoyment experience. The entrails of most shopping centers don’t usually fulfi ll this ideal. Of course, if you are there, and want to know what ninth generation soba mastery tastes like, Azabu Nagasaka is your answer.