A hidden gem enjoyed by public servants…and visitors in the know!  

Visitor guides to Japan contain a lot of restaurant recommendations, but if you really want to know the best places to go, it pays to ask a local like our roving reporter Seiji Nakazawa.

After years of eating out in Tokyo, Seiji has built up a vast knowledge bank of secret gems, and some of his best finds have turned out to be staff cafeterias. These eateries can be found in a large number of office buildings, but not a lot of people know about them, as they’re designed to serve employees who work within the building. However, though they primarily function as staff cafeterias, they’re also open to the public, and because of the employee demographic, the meals are budget priced, making them some of the best deals around town.

One such cafeteria is located at the Shibuya Ward office, and the name it goes by — Hachiko Soba — is a heartwarming nod to the ward’s famous dog, Hachiko, who waited at Shibuya Station every day for his dead master to return.

▼ The Shibuya Ward office

Any reference to Hachiko fills the heart with fondness, and here at Hachiko Soba, the noodles will fill your belly with fondness too.

There’s plenty to choose from on the menu, and there are limited-edition specials as well, which makes it fun for diners who visit on a regular basis.

Despite visiting in March, the eatery still had two winter-only specials available, with one containing cold noodles and the other hot.

▼ The seasonal special is the “旨辛肉”, or “Delicious Spicy Meat”.

Seiji couldn’t resist trying the cold version, which cost 940 yen (US$6.21) before tax and 1,050 yen after tax.

Seiji loves a bit of heat, so as he slurped up his first mouthful of noodles and broth, he was looking forward to a tongue tingle.

▼ However, the tongue tingle didn’t come.

Thinking they might’ve dialled down the spiciness to please the palates of the office workers, Seiji took a big sip of the broth, and then found himself immediately reaching for his glass of water.

▼ This was a spicy broth!

The heat was delayed, but when it hit, it attacked his taste buds with a fierce intensity. This only served to highlight the importance of the noodles in helping to balance out the flavour and shield his precious taste buds, but despite the heat, it was delicious, and once his palate had adjusted to the spice level, he became addicted to the taste, slurping up every last mouthful.

▼ When he finished his meal, he ordered two pieces of fried chicken (250 yen) to help soothe his mouth from the heat.

While the winter special might be too spicy for some, for spice lovers like Seiji it was a fantastic find, and one he wholeheartedly recommends to other spice lords around town. However, if you don’t like hot food, there are plenty of other great dishes on the menu, including the juwari soba that contains noodles made from 100-percent buckwheat flour. At only 390 yen, you’d be hard pressed to find noodles this good at such a cheap price point in Tokyo, and he highly recommends it for first-timers.

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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