Thursday, March 18, 2010

Matsuya Soba, Awajicho

When I said to Big Bird, 'Let's get soba in Awajicho', this was the place I meant. It was in Japan Times, after all. It is not the place that Bunny recommended, as well as my colleagues, because that was Yabu, and they were right, because Yabu is better. Where the Japan Times makes it out that Matsuya is a rustic, hearty place with a deep Shitamachi vibe, gorgeous facade and delicious food, I say unto you 'Eh.'

Inside is pretty well packed, and this is late for lunch. Really nothing special about it - tiny tables with straw-topped stools, people elbow to elbow (or in our case, facing each other, as we ended up with the fairly surprised old couple opposite). Even the camera was pretty meh about it, which is why it refused to take a good picture.

Notable stuff inside is limited to this clock and enormous soba-making bowl, which has been engraved to say...I can't quite make it out. Something 'soba' though, judging by the one clear character there. It's fun to watch the noodle maker though - you can just see his head in the window below the bowl, hunched over yet another pound or two of soba as he pounds it out, rolls it, and uses his menkiri to chop up another set of noodles (did I mention that I got kinda into knives a few months ago and learned the names of the major Japanese knives? And when I say 'major', I mean things like 'the one for cutting blowfish skin' and 'the one for cutting eel bones'.).

You'll find that this looks suspiciously similar to the plate of noodles 30 minutes earlier at Yabu...but we didn't want to go hungry, and thus added the bowl of duck bits in soup at the bottom. I will admit, this was a nice kamo seiro. The soup was very good, the duck breast was soft (which is unusual), and the meatball was fine even if there was only 1. Plus anything with yuzu peel is a-ok with me.

The noodles themselves weren't quite all there though. They were a bit too thin for my liking, and cooked a shade too long, and not all that tasty (and such small portions!). Nothing actively wrong, but certainly nothing special.

With friends like these...


  1. From all the pictures of the knives on the linked site it appears the knives are sharpened only on one side. Is this because there are knives for lefties and righties? Or are they for cutting on the left side or right side of an object? Or dont they cut crooked if neither of the above are correct?

  2. Anonymous, this is a good point. The traditional Japanese knives are sharpened only on one side. This includes what I think of as the 'big three', the deba, usuba, and yanagiba. Single-sided sharpening, as I understand it, yields sharper blades (reduced angles, as you can easily see) at the expense of durability and indeed the ease of cutting straight through objects. I've found the learning curve pretty daunting on the usuba that I bought. It's really not made for cutting carrots or pumpkin or other things, it's made for soft vegetables or else peeling (into thin sheets, for example the way you would peel a daikon and then chop up the sheet to make garnish for sashimi) where the wedging isn't such an issue. Oh, and left-handed knives do exist, but are much less common.

    I can recommend some stores in Kappabashi if you want to talk to someone who actually knows what they're talking about.