Soba at Honmura An

Honmura An

Fresh Yuba on Chilled Soba

My first introduction to Honmura An was in New York City back about 15 years ago. A friend who loved soba wanted to share with me his favorite soba shop in the city. I was mesmerized with the stone grinder for crushing the dried buckwheat and impressed that the noodles were being made fresh daily. Sadly the Manhattan shop has since closed. Honmura An has since relocated to Tokyo, in Roppongi, just across the street and around a corner from the massive Tokyo Midtown complex. It is a short walk from Roppongi Hills or any of the Roppongi stations.

The interior is modern and sparsely decorated with simple washi, Japanese paper, that hangs from above. In the back of the restaurant there is a large window overlooking the soba prep room. Sadly when we arrived the rolling and cutting of the noodles were done for the first seating of lunch.

A few tables had solo diners, in their 20s, plugged into their own music or engrossed into their phones and the outer world. Most of the diners were area businessmen and ladies who lunch. The restaurant has a big menu of small bites that can be had before finishing off with soba. At lunchtime most people were not having the side dishes but all going straight for the buckwheat noodles. This day it was quite hot outside and as one would expect, most diners were ordering the cold noodles.

Honmura An

Ikura and Grated Daikon on Chilled Soba

I had asked if they had yakimiso, a classic dish of a sweet miso, often studded with buckwheat, that is grilled. I was disappointed when I was told it wasn’t served so we ordered two types of soba. One topped with a creamy, fresh yuba (soy milk skin) and the other a grated daikon and ikura (marinated salmon roe).

The noodles are fine and very delicate and this would be a great light lunch during the hot summers that Tokyo is known for.

Honmura An has a nice selection of saké and wine. I was so happy to see Urakasumi Junmaishu on the list that I didn’t even bother looking at the wine list. The saké is easy on the palate and a nice partner to the soba.

Honmura An

Minato-ku, Roppongi 7-14-18

03-5772-6657

English menu available.

Closed Monday and 1st & 3rd Tuesday

August Seasonal Japanese Seafood

 

katsuo

Katsuo tataki

Image

Katsuo sashimi topped with myoga, shiso, and garlic

Den17

Katsuo as done by chef Zaiyu Hasegawa at Den

Look for seafood from this list when eating out in Japan or in the supermarkets or at your fishmonger. Most of the seafood listed here you can enjoy as sushi or sashimi. At home we like to have tachiuo as sashimi with a bit of sesame oil and sea salt. Ayu is best salted and grilled. And while we don’t cook hamo at home we look forward to having it out at restaurants, especially with a bainiku (umeboshi) dressing. At home we often have katsuo topped with lots of yakumi like shiso, myōga, and garlic then dress it with a soy sauce and sesame oil dressing. Katsuo can be bought raw or seared on the outside as tataki).

Ayu 鮎  sweetfish (Plecoglossus altivelis altivelis)

Dojou 泥鰌 loach (Misgurnus Anguillicaudatus)

Hamo   pike eel or pike conger (Muraenesox cinereus)

Hiramasa 平政 yellowtail amberjack (Seriola lalandi)

Hoya  ほや sea squirt(Halocynthia roretzi)

Inada 鰍 young amberjack (or yellowtail) (Seriola quinqueradiata)

Stages of buri: wakashi, inada, warasa, buri

Indo maguro Southern Bluefin tuna 

Isaki 伊佐幾 chicken grunt (Parapristipoma trilineatum)

Kanpachi  間八 amberjack or yellowtail (Seriola dumerili)

Katsuo 鰹 skipjack tuna (or bonito) (Katsuwonus pelamis)

Kensaki ika 剣先烏賊 swordtip squid (Loligo edulis)

Kihada maguro 黄肌鮪 yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares)

Kisu 鱚 Japanese whiting (Sillago japonica)*or shirogisu

Kochi 鯒 bartail flathead (Platycephalus)

Koyari ika槍烏賊  baby spear squid (Loligo bleekeri)

Kuruma-ebi 車海老 Japanese tiger prawn (Penaeus (Melicertus) japonicus)

Ma-aji 真鯵 Japanese jack mackerel (Trachurus japonicus)

Ma-anago 真穴子 whitespotted conger (saltwater eel) (Conger myriaster)

Ma-iwashi 真鰯  Japanese sardine (Sardinops melanostictus)

Managatsuo 真名鰹 silver pomfret (Pampus punctatissimus)

Ma-tako 真蛸  common octopus (Octopus vulgaris)

Nijimasu 虹鱒 rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Shiira  しいら 鱪 dorado or mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus)

Shima aji  島鯵 striped jack or white trevally (Pseudocaranx dentex)

Shinko (Konoshiro) 鰶 dotted gizzard shad (Konosirus punctatus)

Surumei ika するめいか Japanese common squid (Todarodes pacificus)

Suzuki すずき 鱸 Japanese sea bass (Lateolabrax japonicus)

Tachiuo 太刀魚  cutlassfish (Trichiurus lepturus)

Takabe たかべ yellow-striped butterfish (Labracoglossa argentiventris)

Unagi 鰻 Japanese freshwater eel  (Anguilla japonica)

Summer Foods in Tokyo

Kinozen in Kagurazaka

A reader of Food Sake Tokyo recently contacted me regarding her upcoming trip to Tokyo. She asked if there were certain foods she should try in the summer in Japan. Here is my list of favorite Japanese food during the steamy months of July and August. If you can only have one dish, then make it the chilled ramen noodles at Sapporo-ya #4. There’s a photo of it in my book, Food Sake Tokyo. Click on the links for restaurant information.

1. Kakigori – shaved ice with toppings. Click for my favorite restaurants.

2. Cold Soba is great all-year long, but especially in summer.

3. Cold Udon is becoming popular, and is much more filling than soba.

4. Hiyashi Chuka Gomadare at Sapporo-ya in Nihonbashi. Chilled ramen noodles in a large bowl with vegetable toppings and an umami-rich sesame dressing. Lip-smacking good. Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi 3-3-5, Basement 1. 03-3275-0024. Monday – Friday 11:00 – 21:30, Saturday 11:00 – 16:00. Closed Sunday and holidays.

Also, check out Ivan Ramen‘s websites. He often makes seasonal ramen, suited for each season.

5. Reimen – chilled Korean noodles. Most Korean restaurants will serve this dish. I like Pyon Pyon Sha in Ginza. Chuo-ku, Ginza 3-2-15, Ginza Glasse 11F . 03-3535-3020. Open Mon-Sat 11am-11pm, Sun & hols 11am-10pm

www.pyonpyonsya.co.jp

Kintame Bubuchazuke

6. Kintame for a full meal based around a variety of Japanese pickles.

7. While the most convenient beer gardens are found on department store roofs, my favorite is Meiji Kinen Kan in Akasaka for its pedicured lawn, quiet space, and lack of drunk salarymen.