Sunday, March 8, 2009

Komatsuan, Otemachi (小松庵、オアゾ5階)

I'll tell ya, it's been a long time since I enjoyed soba this much. Usually I want to like it, because I like the handmade soba ethic, and the whole 'pure mountain grain and water' sort of thing that goes along with it. But the noodles often come can I put this...boring? Yep. The last two times I can remember eating soba were Namiki Yabu in Asakusa (boring but fun downtown atmosphere) and Shimada (boring and boring) in Monnaka. The last good soba I had was at Honmura An in Roppongi (recommended). Is it something about the 'An'?

Speaking freely for a moment, the main reason we went here was that it was raining outside and 12:30, and every other place had a big line. The sample food outside looked pretty good, but I didn't set my expectations too high. The decor goes all out for the 'clear mountain air' aesthetic; all light and airy, set-pebble floor, natural-edged wood tables. You could really feel like you're in Nagano or something (come to think of it, I think my companion is actually from Nagano despite having married an American and becoming semi-native to HK. Maybe that added to the atmosphere? Unfortunately I now see that the soba is actually from Hokkaido.). There are a bunch of booths and then a big communal table; for some reason they gave the two of us a massive booth that would seat 6 easily and 8 in a pinch.

Mainly you're looking at Y1500+ sets for lunch. We both got ten-dons. let me just get it out of the way by saying that the tempura wasn't fresh when it came to us and was also over-sauced, achieving a double score on the dreaded STRS (Soggy Tempura Rating System). But the soba were really good. Nothing to do with the woven basket they came in, but they were chewy and flavorful. I think once you've had nice 'n' chewy soba like this, you know what soba is supposed to be like (unless you like high scores on the SSRS). Further endearing itself to me, the teishoku came with a dish of pickled wasabi stalks; this instantly takes me back to the only vacation I've actually had in Nagano (Matsumoto), which was in April and featured wasabi stalks at every meal. Love it, love it love it.

Should I be confined to an 庵室, I don't mind eating this soba.

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