Tokyo – Soba in Akihabara

Akihabara has the nickname of ‘Electric Town’ (Akiba Denki-gai). Historically it’s the place to come to buy electrical goods of every kind. You can visit whole department stores dedicated to the products of a single electronics company or shop at market stalls selling individual components and microchips. Shops for cameras, computers, games and various hobbies make it a mecca for otaku (geek) culture.

My Google map is here.

Nowadays it’s also known for maid cafes and pop idol theatres.

On this occasion though I’d come to eat.

On the other side of the river there are some venerable old restaurants.

Kandayabusoba (Intermediate A), 〒101-0063 東京都千代田区神田淡路町2丁目102-10 Kanda-Awajicho, Chiyoda-ku, , open 11.30am-8pm

This is the place to come to try Soba.

The buckwheat noodles are served in a broth (either hot or cold) called Tsuyu which is made of from dashi soup stock and a mixture of soy sauce, mirin and sugar. The menu had several options including Nameko (a kind of mushroom, with grated radish), Anago (eel), Okame (with kamaboko fish paste) or Tempura (prawns in this case). For something different I tried the hot Kamo Nanban; soba topped with duck meat and green onions. It was good (B+) but I still prefer the cold version.

I had it with a bottle of Yebisu, a favourite Japanese beer that I’ve never seen outside of the country.

I’m not sure what this old place over the road is called but it specialises in Fugu, the poisonous puffer fish which kills a couple of Japanese diners every year. The chefs have to be specially certified to prepare it which makes it’s very expensive. In fact most Japanese people have never tried it because they can’t afford it.

Back in the 90s when I was a teacher here, I was lucky enough to try fugu thanks to a wealthy student. It was served in two ways as I recall. First the bones were boiled up to make a soup, and secondly as sashimi. I remember being very disappointed by the bland flavour which made me think it’s just a gimmick food; something dangerous you can say you’ve eaten. I’d like to give it another go though to see if I like it more.

Thankfully that evening was saved by the amazing sushi the chef prepared for the next course. The super fresh fish was sliced with lightning speed and moulded into nigiris in a matter of seconds. At the time it was the best sushi I’d ever eaten. The rich student (her husband owned an umeboshi plum factory) treated her whole class and all the school staff, about a dozen people. Later when she was paying the bill (in cash as is the Japanese way) I saw her hand over the equivalent of a couple of thousand pounds!

So does anyone want to treat me?

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