Muto is not one of Tokyo's old-time long-established soba shops. The decor is contemporary, albeit with more than a few nods to tradition, and jazz plays on the sound system. But it's definitely one of the best in Nihonbashi. This was lunch the other day.
I started with a snack of soba-yaki-miso. Unlike many other places where the soba grains are roasted and crunchy before being mixed in with the miso, here they are soft and raw. But the outer layer is grilled nice and crisp — and that goes perfectly with a sip or two of beer or sake...
The highlight of the tsumami (side-dish nibbles) menu is the soba-dofu kani-ankake [as posted a couple of days ago].
Soba-dofu is the equivalent of goma-dofu, but instead of sesame it is made with finely ground buckwheat flour. Mixed with kuzu starch to form a thick tofu consistency, it is served with a broth composed to match the season. Right now, to reflect the autumn colours, the preparation includes pink crab meat; enoki mushrooms; horenso spinach for a dash of green; and a slice of momiji-namafu — a Kyoto specialty, this is the fresh wheat gluten coloured and shaped to resemble the maple leaves.
Tempura, a staple of any sobaya — but this was the first time I've ever had a tempura'd fig with my ebi shrimp and maitake and shiitake mushrooms. This is excellent, even for a neighbourhood renowned for its tempura restaurants. Rich but light, the only seasoning it needs is to dip it lightly into salt.
And then there is the soba. It is sturdy but subtle, just as you'd expect from noodles cut from 100-percent buckwheat dough. The grain, all sourced from the buckwheat heartland of Shinshu (Nagano), is ground the very same morning. Muto-san then slowly, patiently kneads it into a dough, leaves it to "sleep", then rolls it out thin and cuts it by hand with a heavy chunky cleaver.
It's a classic combination: the tempura, remarkably light and barely tasting of oil; and the earthy flavour of the buckwheat noodles, dipped in a rich tsuyu sauce — it's aged at least two years — and cut with fine-cut negi and a piquant dab of wasabi.
One final mention and recommendation: the soba-yu, the liquor in which the noodles have been cooked. It's so thick, white and nutritious it's served with a spoon, so you can stir it up and make sure you don't miss out on all that nutrition that's been left behind in the cooking pot...
Here's the address: 1-13-1 Nihonbashi-Muromachi, Chuo-ku; (03) 3231-7188
And here's a map link…