Is it creative madness, or creative genius?

It’s swiftly reaching winter temperatures in Japan right now, and for many, that signifies the switch from cold dishes to warm dishes. In Japan, soba noodles can be served up cold or warm, and now’s the perfect time to eat them piping hot. That’s what our foodie Mr. Sato had in mind when he sought out a new soba restaurant to try out, and so he happened upon Zenmi Kotobuki.

Zenmi Kotobuki is a soba restaurant located in northern Tokyo’s Akabane neighborhood, right near JR Akabane Station. It was nearly full when he visited at lunch time, which was already a sign that good things likely awaited him.

A few things stood out to him on the menu. One was the creative seasonal dishes: one with a topping of chicken wings blended with over 10 different spices, and something called Italian Meat Soba that combined the noodles with tomato sauce, pork, cheese, and potatoes.

And on the side menu, he spotted the Kakiage Tower, a type of tempura made by frying a batch of ingredients like vegetables and shrimp together. It looked humongous, so he knew he had to try ordering it.

▼ For reference, this is an average-sized kakiage.

Decision made. He ordered both the Italian Meat Soba and the Kakiage Tower. After a short wait, his order was delivered.

And boy, was it delivered. When he placed his order for the Kakiage Tower, the staff had kindly asked if Mr. Sato would like it cut up into more manageable pieces. But Mr. Sato wanted the real deal, so he naively refused. Now that he saw it was an actual tower, he began to rethink his decision.

Digging into it with his chopsticks, he found it was heavy and quite hard to tear apart. That, along with the fact that the batter was fried a nice, even color meant that the tempura chef must be a master. Mr. Sato struggled to eat the tower as is, so he woefully ended up sectioning it off into more manageable pieces.

No longer aesthetically pleasing, but decidedly stomach-pleasing. Kudos from Mr. Sato to the chef.

Now on to the Italian Meat Soba. Mr. Sato thought it was surprisingly, well, Italian-tasting. Tomato sauce had been added to the normal soba soup broth, but it was so well blended that he wouldn’t have any qualms replacing the soba noodles with spaghetti.

The pork shank was so tender that he could easily tear it apart with his chopsticks. While beef is more common on Italian menus in Japan, Mr. Sato thought pork was a suitable subsititute to use in soba.

And despite typically Western ingredients like potatoes and cheese dominating the ingredients in the brothy bowl, they somehow harmonized perfectly with Japanese soba. The chef must be a creative genius, Mr. Sato thought, especially since…

…he was urged to top off his soba with olive oil, making it even more Italian-style than it was already. Super interesting and super delicious. Overall, Mr. Sato gives Zenmi Kotobuki two thumbs up. He was only able to try these two dishes, but he’s confident that everything on the menu would taste just as good.

Restaurant information
Zenmi Kotobuki | 禅味 寿
Address: Tokyo-to, Kita-ku, Akabane 1-1-1 Beans Akabane 1F
Open 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. (open until 8 p.m. on Sundays and holidays)

Photos ©SoraNews24 (Kakiage reference photo: SoraNews24)
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