In the quiet neighborhood of Shirogane, you will find Wabisuke, a soba shop that still grinds its buckwheat by hand with a mortar and pestle. The Yamamotos, the shop’s husband-and-wife owners, buy their high-grade buckwheat direct from the farmers. Some of it is ground by hand for inaka seiro, a special soba made from a mix of buckwheat including crushed whole soba kernels. Only five bowls of this bouncy, hearty soba are available per day. Try a tiny pinch of salt with your first bite to bring out the true flavor. Then continue with salt, or switch to dipping sauce. (Remember: only dip the tips of the noodles; dipping an entire chopstickful is considered gauche.) Soba should be eaten immediately, before it loses its flavor. This is especially true for the sobagaki, a traditional mixture of 100% soba flour and hot water topped with an (sweet bean paste). The owners recommend you savor some sake, graze on a side dish, and then finish off with soba.
Edo Soba Wabisuke
Address: 1-14-2 Shirogane, Chuo-ku
Hours: 11:30~15:00, 18:00~21:00 (or until soba runs out)
Closed: Tue., irregular
100% handmade seiro ¥900, coarse-ground seiro ¥900, kakesoba ¥700, itawasa ¥400, dashimaki tamago ¥650, seasonal tempura ¥1,000, sobagaki zenzai ¥600, soba kaiseki (6 dishes) ¥3,500, sake (180ml) ¥800
Originally published in Fukuoka Now Magazine (fn208, Apr. 2016)