Friday, September 20, 2013

Kanda Matsuya: Hand-made Soba since 1884

Soba or Ramen? It's soba anytime for me and thus my visit to Kanda Matsuya marks the start of soba journey once again. 

If you are a soba fan, Kanda Matsuya is one of Tokyo's finest purveyor of handcut (te-uchi) soba noodles. Opened during Meiji Times and rebuilt after the earthquake, it has often been compared to Kanda Yabu--another historical sobaya which is now close until further notice due to a fire incident.

Slide open the wooden door and you will witness crowds of salaryman, old ladies, couples sitting elbow to elbow on rattan-covered stools. Nope, don't expect the privilege of occupying the whole table by yourself unless you are in groups of 3 or more.

It can be rather uncomfortable for first timers but once your soba is ferried from the kitchen by the obaasan or old lady waiteress, you just pluck your chopsticks apart and enter another world that consists of soba and yourself.

The Goma Soba (750yen/$7.55) is plain fare prepared with little subtlety, but one of the best way to savour the skill of noodle artisans besides having it in mori (cold with a dip) or zaru (same but with seaweed). The noodles are fresh with no signs of flaccidity and the sesame sauce is addictive. This standard portion is not too big so I recommend you to "O-Mori" (extra large portion) if you are famished.

For a hot soupy version, try the Tsukimi Soba (900yen/$9.06) a robust bowl of soba with a beautiful orange moon (egg yolk) for you to admire. It also contains slices of superbly bouncy kamaboko (fish paste cake) and seasonal vegetables. There are some condiments such as the Yuzu Shichimi Powder that you can add into the cold sesame dip or the hot soup for some numb spiciness.

Front Page of the 2-Page Menu
For a sobaya, the menu with more than 10 items is considered extensive. There is Yama-kake (soba with white sticky grated yam), Tennan-Ban (Hot Soba topped with Tempura prawns), Tempura Soba (Cold Soba served with Tempura on the side) and Kamo Seiro Soba (Cold Soba with a hot soup of duck meat) etc...... Surprisingly, a number of udon dishes and donburis (rice bowls) were also spotted.

However, there is NO English menu and it does not state whether the noodles is hot or cold. Nevertheless it should not be a huge problem because any soba dish which you point with your finger is likely to turn out remarkable.

Before you leave, pour the hot soba-yu (water used to boil soba) from this red ceramic pot into the dipping sauce or your soup to enjoy the fragrance of fresh soba flour.
At Matsuya, it is one intimate and unpretentious old-school soba house where time seems to halt momentarily in Meiji Era. And it is not hidden in some unknown alley where you take hours to navigate. It is the first shop you see from Exit A3 of Awajicho Subway Station after walking pass Resona Bank.

Chances are you will stop in front of the shop anyway because it's brilliant Taisho architecture is too conspicuous to go unnoticed.

Kanda Matsuya
1-13 Kanda-Sudacho, Chiyoda-ku
11am-8pm (Sat & holidays 11 am-7pm)
Closed on Sunday
Nearest Station: Awajicho (Marunouchi Line); Ogawamachi (Shinjuku Line)
http://kanda-matsuya.jp/p01.htm
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