Noodles are a big part of the Japanese diet, but there are marked differences in taste and style around the country. Soba (buckwheat noodles) is more popular in Kanto, whereas Kyushu is famed for udon. Murata, however, specializes in edo mae soba, or soba Tokyo-style. Patrons travel from as far as Hiroshima to enjoy these freshly made, hand-kneaded noodles in three basic varieties: jyuwari (100% wheat blend), niwari (20% wheat blend) and the darker, heavier, fiber-filled inaka, which includes kernel scraps (add ¥250 for jyuwari and ¥100 for inaka). Mori soba (¥850) is the classic order, a plate of cold noodles served with a soy-based dipping sauce. If you want to eat like the pros, take your first bite without the sauce so you can fully appreciate the taste of these fine noodles, then slurp up the rest as you like. Omori (extra large) orders are available in a hearty 1.5 portion size (¥1,000) or a monstrous 3.5 portion size (¥2,300). The tempura here is divine, as is the tamago yaki (rolled omelet). Order a cup of chilled sake to complement your meal, and relax — Murata is pure, simple perfection!
2-9-1 Reisen-machi, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka
Open: 11:30 ~ 21:00 (20:30 OS)
Closed: 2nd Sun.
Prices: ¥2,500 lunch set (by reservation), yamakake ¥1,000, soba cheesecake ¥450
Originally published in Fukuoka Now magazine (fn103, Jul. 2007)