Komoro Soba is one of those places that after you’ve been there once, you suddenly notice that they have stores absolutely everywhere you look. 81 of their 84 stores are within the 23 wards of Tokyo with 50 of those located in Chuo and Chiyoda wards alone.

The Gotanda Branch of Komoro Soba | Photo by Gregory Lane

So they’re everywhere. So what? Well because you can hardly ever go wrong with soba noodles. They’re cheap, fast, healthier than other starchier noodle dishes like udon and ramen and a hot bowl provides the ideal antidote to a cold winter’s day. In summer too, zaru-soba is a great way to cool down.

After 13 years in Japan, plastic food seems perfectly normal to me. In fact I felt weird taking this photo. | Photo by Gregory Lane

Let’s get it out of the way first. Komoro Soba is not cool – their stores have that amazing plastic food in glass cabinets outside the entrance, innocuous muzak and depending on the time and location of the store, you might think you’ve walked into the cafeteria of a rest home. However, they offer a wide variety of noodle dishes of decent quality and they deliver fast and at a reasonable price. When I visited the Gotanda branch of Komoro Soba, I had a bowl of Kakeage soba for 350yen. Kakeage is a kind of tempura conglomerate consisting of carrots, onion and sakura (very small) shrimp. The noodles were served in a hot broth with the kakeage and some shungiku on top. The colour of the soba was quite light – which indicates they might use more plain flour than buckwheat flour. Nonetheless, it was tasty and good value for money.

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If you can’t read this, you can either ask or just play soba roulette. | Photo by Gregory Lane

In terms of the menu, they really do have a big range, from Kake-soba at 230yen through to a variety of soba + tempura donburi sets at 500 to 600yen each – although I still don’t understand what kind of maniac would want to have a side of rice with their soba. As you can see from the photo above, ordering is through a ticket vending machine with NO English, so if you can’t figure it out, you’ll need to ask the staff – or just randomly choose a button, because you can never go that badly wrong with soba.

The money shot. A bowl of Kakeage Soba. | Photo by Gregory Lane
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