SOBA THAT MAKES YOUR SOUL SMILE
Once in a while, during my culinary journey in Japan, I would stumble upon restaurants that simply makes your soul smile. This small establishment called Okina in the Ebisu area is one of those places. The food is so delicious it is a spiritual experience. You walk out feeling like you have just finished a meditation retreat, with a full tummy. I accidentally found this restaurant while looking through the Tokyo Michelin star book, trying to find a good soba restaurant. I went there thinking that I would have a nice bowl of soba, and then I noticed that it said 15,000-26,000 yen fixed menu price for dinner. A bowl of soba can’t cost that much. I went anyway. (thank God).
A very friendly and talkative ‘older lady’ greats you as you enter and immediately makes you feel at home, throwing compliments left and right, putting a smile on your face even before the food arrives. There are a few choices of fixed menus, starting with 15.000 yen and going up to one that doesn’t even have a price on it. We chose the one with the truffle soba that cost about 26,500 yen.
We were given a box of sake which you drink tequila-style with some salt. First time I tried it, and I thought it was absolutely delicious.
The first course is some baby ginkgo nuts, perfectly arranged in a bowl of salt. I have to say, they were the best ginkgo nuts I have tried, ever. They were soft and had this heavenly taste, I could have finished a whole bowl if they’d let me.
Then came the plate of sushi with some shrimp, scallop and squid brain, which despite of what it is, actually tasted delicious.
Next, came another highlight. Shark fin tempura dipped in a bowl of Fugu (blowfish) soup. This was heavenly. The shark fin was marinated in a special sauce for three weeks before being fried with tempura batter. The Fugu dipping soup was otherworldly.
Then came the freshly made cold soba. The noodles where scrumptious and delightful, but i didn’t finish the whole lot, leaving some space in my tummy for the truffle soba to come.
Last, but definitely not least, came best part of the whole meal. The truffle soba. We were asked to try the freshly made soba before it was boiled and you could taste the summer truffle in them. The soba was served hot, with a chunk of butter melted in the soup. Maybe this is the Japanese version of pasta with truffle and butter sauce, and it was absolutely and conclusively delicious.
A pot of soba soup is served at the end and you are supposed to mix it in your cold truffle sauce. This soup with the essence of the soba we ate before we are told is what makes or breaks a soba restaurant. The soup has to be perfect and ours definitely was.
To close things, a bowl of home-made vanilla ice cream was served.
Like I’ve said before, I am so glad we stumbled upon this lovely little restaurants. We left with a smile so huge, it would definitely last us the whole week.
Price : $$$
Five Annex B1 Floor 1-3-10 Ebisunishi,
Phone : +813-3477-2648