Seiji checks out the soba scene where government workers and the public can indulge in a bowl of buckwheat noodles for a very reasonable price.

Our Japanese-language reporter Seiji Nakazawa really likes soba. Like, really, really likes it. In fact, at this point, he has now officially visited 312 soba eateries throughout Japan in an effort to find the best possible buckwheat noodles.

So far, his soba travels have taken him across the land, from Yakushima in the south to Hokkaido in the north. He usually opts for unassuming eateries, even if they’re of the quick stand-and-eat variety, and takes particular delight in unexpectedly stumbling into new restaurants by chance. That’s exactly what happened when he recently found himself running errands at the Shibuya City Office, the main administrative hub for residents of Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward.

As soon as he walked in, he noticed a stand displaying the building’s cafeteria menu in front of the general facility information. An eatery on the first floor called Shibuya Hachiko Soba caught his eye.

Upon closer inspection, something else made his heart jump in excitement. Shibuya Hachiko Soba’s basic juwari soba (noodles made from 100-percent buckwheat flour) only cost 390 yen (US$2.63). Even the soba at some famous chain restaurants weren’t that cheap!

There was no way that he could leave the building without trying some soba first. He headed down the hallway to the left of the general reception and entered the cafeteria.

Rather than a soba restaurant, or even a dining area, the interior looked more like a multipurpose facility with small tables and chairs. He imagined that the room must be used for various functions throughout the week. Walking further inside, he soon spotted the kitchen area and a ticket machine.

Sure enough, the price for the juwari soba displayed on the screen was only 390 yen.

The menu in general was quite vast. Some of the options included soba with maitake mushrooms and meat on a tray (940 yen), Japanese whiting tempura soba (890 yen). There were also some other dishes such as beef curry (490 yen) and side sets for purchase. Not all soba restaurants offer these kinds of add-ons, so Seiji was delighted to see them here.

After placing his order and taking a seat, his juwari soba was soon ready.

It definitely looked like a regular tray of soba noodles–not reduced in size to explain the low price. Small spots were visible here and there on the noodles that resembled the black specks found on the regional Shinshu soba variety. He asked a worker and learned that the noodles were made using buckwheat flour produced in Horokanai, Hokkaido.

They also didn’t smell particularly strongly of buckwheat. Their thin and flat composition made them easy to dip in the accompanying sauce, which tasted strongly of bonito yet had a underlying sweetness as well.

He began slurping them in earnest to satisfy his curiosity. While they weren’t the absolute best soba he’d ever eaten, they made for a solid lunch with nothing to complain about.

Of course, they were certainly outstanding for their value.

The only potential downside to Shibuya Hachiko Soba is that it’s inside the Shibuya City Office, which is closed over the weekend. Still, Seiji will keep it in mind as a hidden gem whenever he’s investigating something in the area.

Restaurant information
Shibuya Hachiko Soba / 渋谷ハチ公そば
Address: Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Udagawa-cho 1-1
Open: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Closed: Saturday & Sunday

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