Just north of Tokyo in Chiba Prefecture, you would be forgiven for walking straight past the entrance and never noticing Soba Dokoro Atago. Set back from the main street by an orange awning-covered alleyway, this noodle bar in Noda City is about as local as you can get, and has been serving up handmade noodles for over 30 years.
Now do note that there's no English to be had here. But that's okay. With the staff keeping polite as you mistime your noodle slurping, the experience you'll have will be blue collar suburban. So if you are up for a friendly snack and don't mind the authenticity of being the odd one out, Soba Dokoro is for you.
Before you try the food, though, do take take a moment to absorb the retro decor. Yes, you have stepped back into another time here. Wooden stools and tables, traditional styled floor seating and cushions... Of course, adding to the charm is the fact that the staff aren't thinking about appealing to tourists, they're just trying to run a business serving lunch
Ah, lunch. Yes. The bar may be called Soba Dokoro but many people swear by its handmade ramen noodles. The JPY600 price certainly helps. I've yet to try the ramen, having been swayed by the bowl of udon and tempura. An enjoyable JPY980 for that one and worth every yen. The hot pot udon noodle dish at JPY1180 gets the big thumbs up too.
Soba Dokoro Atago is not fine dining. It's a rusty end of the budget noodle bar serving a satisfying lunch and drinks for the locals. If you're after creating your own Japan experience, then a trip to Noda City may be just the thing for you.
Take the Tobu Urban Park Line from Omiya, Kasukabe or Kashiwa stations to Atago Station. Head out the exit and turn right at the main road. Soba Spot Atago is less than a minute's walk away.
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A Japanese Permanent Resident who enjoys drooling over proper soba and sushi, Japanese aesthetics ticks all the right boxes for me and I enjoy stringing words together. I've almost one hundred published articles on Japan as well as five English language books written in the traditional Japanese zuihitsu-style.