Every time I go to Tokyo, I am a bit overwhelm by the gastronomical choices I must face. Within the limit of my budget and appetite, I always try to eat something new and exciting.
I found Minatoya address in Pen with New Attitude magazine and armed with my Tokyo atlas, I slowly made my way to this mysterious soba restaurant which is located not too far from Shinbashi station.
I read to get there early and I ended up in front of the door at 11h AM, thirty minutes before opening.The owner who had just arrived told me to come back at 11h30.
I went to visit a small shrine located across the street and came back about 20 minutes later, by then a line was snaking around the corner. It looked like I was the only one who was not on a lunch break, since most people were wearing suits.
The restaurant stands on a corner and the building itself looks like a drab black box with a long and narrow window slicing the lower half of the box.
There is a simple door and a very discreet plaque with only the name of the restaurant on it. There is no indication that it’s a restaurant.
When you walk in, there is a small recessed cash register on the right, a long counter in the back where the open kitchen is located and most of the space is occupied by a huge monolithic island which serves as a standing counter.
The main island is so massive that the restaurant feels very cramp. Chairs and tables would defy the main purpose of the restaurant which is to slurp and move on.
I ordered a beef soba which is served hot, covered with meat, sea weed and shredded green onion. The dipping sauce is spicy and rich.
On the counter, there is eggs, more green onion and panko. That’s pretty much it, no frills, but all soba slurping thrills.
The handmade soba which are cooked in batch are beyond reproach. The combination of the soba and the meat make for a hearty meal. The simplicity of it all might be disarming, but the taste is just great!
I really appreciated this modern take on soba. Soba making in Japan seem to be relegated to a traditional setting and most restaurant seem to look like they were built 100 years ago.
The clean and minimalist decor of Minatoya somehow re-centers the eating experience on the food itself. The white counter contrast the dark interior and the single flower in the middle of the main island is a constant reminder of a truly simplistic Japanese aesthetic.
Minatoya is not simply a restaurant in my mind, it’s a statement about how we perceive food and space. Go there to see for yourself and don’t hesitate to share your impressions.
3-1-10 Nishi-Shinbashi, Minato-Ku, Tokyo
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