If you are one of those people who eat meals with one hand while typing on their phone with the other, we got a challenge for you: nagashi somen.
Nagashi somen are thin noodles that are enjoyed flowing down a bamboo chute with ice-cold water. And you’ll need all of your focus to fish for your lunch if you want to get your fill! Unsurprisingly, this cold noodle dish is usually enjoyed during the summer months and in a natural, outdoor setting. While you won’t find any venues in central Tokyo that offer this rather traditional and extremely fun experience, there are a few places where you can enjoy nagashi somen around Tokyo.
About nagashi somen
Nagashi somen is a seasonal meal, so if you want to get in on the fun, make sure to check the venue’s dates for the months they offer it. It is usually an all-you-can-eat affair for the noodles, with toppings and dipping sauce. Most places offer tempura that can be ordered on the side to round off the meal. As nagashi somen are enjoyed outdoors and are a light, cold alternative to heavier food during the sweltering hot Japanese summer, most places only serve nagashi somen during lunchtime, or into the afternoon hours.
Here is our shortlist of nagashi somen restaurants in the Tokyo area. We focused only on options that are within two hours reach of central Tokyo and that can be reached by train.
Our top pick: Chayakado – Kamakura, Kanagawa
This soba shop turns into a nagashi somen heaven during the spring and summer months. Located in the lush forest of Kamakura not far from Tokyo, it is the ideal environment to experience this summer dish. They usually offer somen from March to October, but check with them if you are coming at the fringes of the season to make sure. The all-you-can-eat nagashi somen is ¥1,280, and you can order tempura or tororo (grated yam) to go with it.
The only nagashi somen in Tokyo: Kisetsu Ryori Funayado – Chofu, Tokyo
If you don’t want to venture far, this place, around 30 minutes by train from Shibuya or Shinjuku, is your best bet. It is located on a golf course in Chofu near the edge of Tokyo and offers plenty of greenery and a traditional atmosphere. Prices are reasonable, 90 minutes of all-you-can-eat noodles are ¥1,600, including tempura and a side of chilled tomato.
They serve nagashi somen from the end of June to the end of September every year, check their website for the exact dates. However, here is the tricky part: they are only open on the weekend and on holidays. You must book ahead, in Japanese, and they generally only pick up the phone on those days too. If you don’t speak Japanese, ask a friend, concierge or your Airbnb host to help you out.
Somen with a view: Hana-no-omotenashi – Nagatoro, Saitama
This nagashi somen place offers scenic views and is located in Nagatoro town. While a bit farther away, you can combine this option with hiking in the beautiful Chichibu area in Saitama Prefecture, around 2 hours from central Tokyo. Access by train is easy and you can make a day trip out of it. Prices are extremely reasonable too, with ¥1,000 for all-you-can-eat nagashi somen. They don’t accept reservations in advance, so arriving early is recommended, but waiting times generally aren’t too long.