Enjoy the taste of autumn without breaking the bank!

Japan is a country that fully embraces the changing of the seasons, and this is most apparent when you look at menus in restaurants. The arrival of spring brings with it the arrival of cherry blossom and matcha-flavoured products. Summertime means festival food is everywhere you look. And now, with the days getting shorter and cooler, autumn has finally arrived. We’ve already seen our fair share of autumn-inspired food, with even fast food chains jumping on the seasonal bandwagon with their Moon-Viewing burgers to celebrate the tsukimi tradition. But moon-viewing burgers, while certainly delicious, are only a recent creation, having first been seen in the ’90s. What about something more traditionally associated with autumn?

Matsutake mushrooms are a delicious, fragrant topping to put on your soba, but they are usually used quite sparingly. Sometimes referred to as Japan’s version of black truffles, the mushrooms are pretty hard to find as they aren’t grown on farms: rather, they are hand-gathered from pine tree forests. As a result, matsutake mushrooms are pretty pricey, usually selling at 4,000 yen (US$38) or more for a single mushroom, and are considered an autumnal delicacy. 

So when we heard there was a restaurant that gives you a generous matsutake helping with your soba, our Japanese-language reporter Ayaka was there in a flash. The restaurant is called Owariya; located near the Kaminarimon gate in Asakusa, and they offer a bowl of matsutake soba for 2200 yen (US$21).

You can see just how many mushrooms are present in the dish by looking at the picture from the menu. In fact, there are so many matsutake mushrooms that it’s hard to even see the soba noodles underneath. Sometimes menu pictures can be deceptively different to the real thing, but fingers crossed that this isn’t the case here!

The matsutake soba arrived at the table after a few minutes, and before Ayaka had even opened the lid, the tantalising scent of the matsutake came wafting to her nostrils. Without seeing the actual dish, she could tell it was full to the brim of the autumn mushrooms.

But as she opened the lid and finally got a peek at her meal, Ayaka noticed something even more incredible…

Could it be… the amount of mushrooms in the actual bowl… was more than the menu image??

▼ Menu picture on the left, real meal on the right.

The matsutake mushrooms were about the same thickness as a chopstick, and smelled absolutely divine. And they were perfectly paired with the soba soup, and as Ayaka sat there, eating her mushrooms and sipping her soba broth, she noticed something else incredible…

It felt like no matter how much she ate…

… the amount of mushrooms didn’t decrease!

Ayaka got into a pattern of eating some mushrooms and then sipping some broth, but each time she put the bowl down there were still mushrooms floating in it. Even after she’d eaten all the noodles and slurped up all the sweet, matsutake infused broth, there were still mushrooms left.

As expected of a seasonal delicacy, the Matsutake soba is a limited-time dish, although there doesn’t appear to be a specifically set time period. Usually appearing on the menu around the end of August, it seems like it’s up to the restaurant as to when Matsutake soba will stop being served. To avoid disappointment (and to get a delicious Japanese seasonal delicacy for an incredible price), be sure to visit Owariya before the season ends!

Restaurant Information
Address: Tokyo-to, Taito-ku, Asakusa 1-1-3
Open 11:30 a.m.–8:30 p.m.

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[ Read in Japanese ]