Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sobakichi Shimmarubiru (ソバキチ ~新丸ビル~)

Sobakichi Shimmarubiru is located on the seventh floor of an office building called the Shin-Marunouchi Building, near the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.  The commercial zone building is based on the concept of "having a delightful time" and hosts approximately 150 distinctive shops and restaurants. We found Sobakichi on the building's main directory outside as a "last resort-we are starving-let's just go somewhere" lunch spot.  Offering mainly soba and udon noodles from 650-1300 JPY, there are also cheaply priced deep-fried skewers of fish, vegetables and meats starting at just 150 JPY per skewer.

The restaurant was a bit tricky to find, as we basically circled the building from the elevator we took up.  It was crowded with local Japanese business workers on their lunch break, but we were seated right away at one of the small booths.  The server surprisingly did not speak a lick of English, so it was a tad confusing and frustrating to communicate at first (especially on an empty stomach).  The restaurant setting is stylish though and quickly put me at ease, with the warm lighting and blond wood tones of the sleek central counter contrasting with the coolly lit terrace garden and windows all around.

We were given an English menu and noticed in addition to the moderately priced food options, the drinks were budget-friendly as well with beer, many different shochus, and several wines by the glass. The specialty of the house apparently is tempura-fried chicken served over a bowl of soba in a curry-flavored broth, but I was in the mood for udon instead. Soba is a thin noodle made from buckwheat flour, whereas udon is a type of thick wheat flour noodle usually served hot as noodle soup.

I ended up ordering a cold udon dished served with a thick dashi broth made from "special soy sauce" known as Bukkake.  It came with scallions, shredded radish, and thin strips of roasted seaweed. You mix it all up before eating and can add extra sauce if needed.  It was perfectly salty and tasty and totally satisfied my craving.  Keith ordered Tonkatsu, which is breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet that came on top of rice with a fried egg.  For a small fee, he added on an extra side bowl of regular udon.  He really enjoyed his meal too, and we were totally happy with our random lunch choice.  Once we were finished, it was unclear if the server would bring us the check or if we pay up at the bar.  Since we had a timed tour of the Imperial Palace scheduled, I ended up just walking up to the bar area and paying without a problem.

Total Rating: 3.88
Food: 4, Price: 4.5, Service: 3, Ambience: 3, Accessibility: 3.5

What I ate:
cold udon served with thick dashi-broth and scallions

Plus Keith ate:
Tonkatsu with Udon
breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet with rice and fried egg,
side of cold udon with scallions

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