Shirou Soba

Retro soba and kaiseki ryori restaurant off Omotesando

By Elizabeth Scally   Oct 24, 2018 - 2 min read

Trendy Omotesando, which stretches from Aoyama Dori to Meiji Shrine is a fascinating place. The tree-lined avenue is grand, and often compared to the Champs Elysees in Paris. As you pass casually dressed tourists toting cameras, and Tokyo fashionistas in their best outfits, you can gaze up through the boughs of zelkova trees at fascinating modern architecture. In the back streets are many trendy eateries with long lineups. But a little further along the back streets of Omotesando and into Jingumae, the area before the shrine, is a soba and kaiseki restaurant, Shirou, that bucks the trendiness and exudes vintage charm with classic Japanese dining.

On a weekday afternoon, I slid back the wooden door to be ushered to the counter. For lunch, I was served kakiage and zaru soba. Shirou's kakiage is a fritter of julienne carrots, burdock roots, diced bell peppers, shrimp and octopus tempura. The basket of handmade soba is made from new buckwheat sourced from farms in Hokkaido. Each dish was served with its own light broth tsuyu for the soba noodles and a tangy broth for the kakiage.

You might want to arrive early at Shirou to see the soba chef make the noodles for the day, or linger later over tea or nihonshu to soak up the vintage atmosphere of the space. Although the building is modern, the hardware, ranma transoms, beams, posts, and hardware have been recovered from antique buildings to recreate an atmosphere that hearkens back to Meiji and Showa Period classic shophouses.

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