Thursday, October 2, 2008

Shimbashi Soba

This very popular restaurant is located at the basement of the Paragon, and it is the sort of place where you can go for a quick bite, ideally at lunch time. Be prepared to queue, although the queue usually moves fast. I usually tend to avoid restaurants where I have to queue, unless it's well worth it, and this is one of those exceptions.
If you want to have the best soba in Singapore, Shimbashi Soba is the place. The noodles are made on the premises, right in front of you. A skilled chef prepares the noodles non-stop for the enjoyment of the customers. You can assist the whole preparation, from the grinding of the buckwheat flour to the precise cutting of Soba strands from a folded sheet of dough.
Besides soba, Shimbashi serves bento boxes, lunch menus and lots of other dishes. I have tried most of the dishes from the menu, but I would not recommend anything other than their soba. Everything else is totally average and not worth coming to this restaurant for, therefore to avoid disappointment choose what they can do best.
Chilled soba is indeed my recommendation. There are a couple of varieties always on the menu, but the seasonal options tend to be the most interesting ones.

This picture alone should be sufficient to give you an idea of the quality of the soba they produce. You can see the rough 'homemade' texture, the result of a long preparation which includes making the flour itself! Most importantly, the noodles are cooked to perfection. Most other restaurants tend to overcook them, killing the soul of this delicate noodle. Soba must be removed from the heat at the right time, and immediately chilled in order to preserve its consistency.
The one above is 'seiro soba' ($12.20), served with chilled 'dashi' soup on the side, wasabi and spring onion to taste. This is the best way to taste soba at its purest.

This cold soba is a seasonal variety, called 'gomadare soba' ($19.80). The noodles are served in a chilled and creamy sesame seed based soup and topped with salmon sashimi, seasonal mushrooms, aubergines and Japanese vegetables. I was slightly skeptical of this new combination, but it was a truly enjoyable variation to the regular 'dashi' soup base.

The chilly/yuzu paste and spring onion served on the side add a real tangy, spicy twist to the otherwise calm flavour. I was happy with the whole serving mixed into my soba.

The bill came up to 47.65, including drinks and an extra side dish (tamagoyaki - $5.80).

Overall, Shimbashi soba remains one of my favourite restaurants. Their soba never disappointed me, with the only exception of the duck soba which used to be better than it has been recently (the duck is now overcooked and too tough). I highly recommend this place if you are in the area and you are looking for a quick, healthy meal.

For more information you can visit the company's website:

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