Kanda Matsuya 神田まつや (Tokyo)

Location: Tokyo, Japan
Address: 1-13 Kanda-Sudacho, Chiyoda
Type of Meal: Lunch

Soba are thin buckwheat noodles served cold or hot (heated with a warm dipping sauce or in broth). Like ramen, restaurants will generally specialize and offer only that type of noodles on their menu. One such restaurant is Kanda Matsuya, one of Tokyo’s most popular places to eat te-uchi (hand cut) soba noodles. Started in 1884, Kanda’s longevity may be accredited to their meticulous focus to quality – from cultivating their buckwheat in Hokkaido to perfecting the ratio of buckwheat to wheat flour - their noodles are an artisanal treat.  
Tourists and locals alike know about Kanda and line-ups often form even before the restaurant opens. When we arrived ten minutes before their 11:30 opening there were already 30 people in line. Luckily, the small restaurant uses communal seating so it can fit a surprisingly large number of customers at any given time (approximately 50-60) so we made it inside.

Wanting to enjoy the noodles in its purest form, I opted for the cold soba with a soy dipping sauce (¥650). They were deliciously springy with the sauce being just salty enough to flavour without overwhelming the nutty noodles. But, you need to order the noodles omori (extra large) as I was still hungry after devouring mine.  It may look like a lot of noodles, but they are actually sitting on top of a flat bamboo plate so it’s a relatively thin layer.
My husband’s tempura soba (¥2,000) was much more filling and he was satisfied after finishing the bowl. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to try any as I was sick, but he noted it was good – nothing outstanding but decent and the hot broth satisfying on a cold winter’s day.

As a warning, it’s pretty hard to order at the restaurant as there is no English menu or speakers. I saved pictures and characters of what we wanted to order on my phone and showed it to our waitress. But this meant we couldn’t spontaneously order something - I saw a table order delicious looking grilled fish and other small eats that would have gone perfectly with my plain noodles. Alas, I had no idea how to order them off and the table was sitting pretty far away so it seemed impolite to point.
But, if you love noodles, it’s worth it to make the trip out to Kanda Matsuya (just arrive earlier to avoid waiting). Moreover, it’s walking distance from Akihabara, the bustling electronics neighbourhood in Tokyo. So, if you’re not in the mood to eat at a chain or maid café, Kanda Matsuya may be the perfect alternative.


Overall mark - 8 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!