Hand-Made Soba at Narutomi (手打ち蕎麦 成冨) in Tokyo

By Mark Wiens 26 Comments

PLEASE READ (April 2016): This restaurant is ONLY open to members, no longer open to the public. If you show up to eat here, you’ll be turned away.

Soba, or thin noodles made form buckwheat, is a popular dish of Japanese cuisine.

手打ち蕎麦 成冨
Narutomi Soba (手打ち蕎麦 成冨) in Tokyo, Japan

When I was in Tokyo, I noticed that soba noodles were served at both cheap fast food restaurants as well as at specialty upscale artisan style restaurants.

One day, I decided it was time to experience an authentic and high quality version of soba.

Narutomi Soba (手打ち蕎麦 成冨)

On the Chowzter list of best eats in Tokyo, I discovered Narutomi Soba, a restaurant recommended by my friend Yukari for their soba noodles.

Japanese soba noodles
The menu… but the staff are friendly and will help you order!

The menu at Narutomi Soba was all in Japanese, but luckily the waitress, at least when I went, spoke some English, and all the staff were extremely friendly.

I had also written down a few of the versions of dishes that I wanted try.

Yes, indeed we arrived at the restaurant about 15 minutes early, but luckily on the day we went it wasn’t actually all that busy so we didn’t really need to show up too early – though it did get busy at the main lunch rush.

Wasabi and radish on a plate
Wasabi and radish on a plate

The restaurant is very friendly, and the staff were immediately very kind from the start.

The waitress handed us the menu, which was all in Japanese, so instead I just ordered the dishes that I had read about and wanted to sample.

Narutomi Soba (手打ち蕎麦 成冨) is famous mainly for two things, the soba buckwheat noodles, and tempura, which makes a great combination.

Japanese food
I just can’t get over how beautiful the presentation of food is in Japan

I immediately loved the decorations, and all the neatly designed plates and cups that were used at Narutomi Soba (手打ち蕎麦 成冨).

The waitress explained to us that some of the cups they used were actually from the Edo period of Tokyo’s history.

Just like at many restaurants in Japan, presentation was of utmost importance.

Best soba restaurant in Tokyo
Cool soba noodles served on a basket

The chef at Naurtomi Soba is a purveyor of 100% hand-made (teuchi) buckwheat noodles, which gives his signature dish an incredible level of quality.

There are mainly two versions of soda noodles that you can order, the dry version which is served on a basket (mori soba 盛り蕎麦), which is what I ordered, and the soba noodles in soup (kake soba 掛け蕎麦).

100% buckwheat noodles
Fantastic, hand-made 100% buckwheat noodles

The beautiful plate of dried soba noodles (seiro soba or mori soba 盛り蕎麦) was served cold on a traditional basket plate, and came accompanied by a light sauce dressing, a tiny dab of wasabi, and a few shreds of radish.

I can honestly say this was the first time I had ever eaten real soba noodles in my life – before this experience I had only eaten soba noodles at Japanese buffets – which really wasn’t anything special.

Narutomi Soba Restaurant
Getting ready for a dip!

The waitress advised us to first add the dipping sauce into the extra little cup proved, and then mix in a little bit of wasabi to the sauce (known as tsuyu).

From there it was time to start digging into the noodles.

The first step was to grab a bite of noodles with my chopsticks, and then give them a little dip in the sauce, and take a bite. Slurping is very alright when it comes to eating soba.

The soba was wonderful, chewy yet soft at the same time, and starchy yet smooth. The subtle soy sauce based dressing added just the right amount of flavor, without distracting from the real taste of the buckwheat.

Price – 840 JPY ($8.22)

Tempura in Tokyo
I decided to order 3 plates of tempura…

No really knowing what I was ordering, or how much it cost, I went a little overboard and ended up ordering 3 plates of tempura to go along with our soba.

I ordered 2 plates of the normal mixed vegetable tempura, and 1 plate of tempura with a nice scallop on the side.

Tempura is served with salt

Unlike the other tempura restaurant I ate at, which was served with a light soy sauce based sauce for dipping, the tempura at Narutomi Soba came with a side of salt.

And actually, the tempura was fried so fresh, it didn’t really need any seasoning to me at all.

I ate it straight without even using the salt.

Tempura in Tokyo
Fresh and light tasting

After looking around the restaurant, I noticed a lot of other diners only ordered 1 plate of tempura to share with their table… and when I saw our bill I realized why!

But nevertheless, it was really delicious, especially with alternating bites of soba.

Price – 1,260 JPY ($12.33) per plate

While eating in Japan, one thing I learned was that, it’s not always about getting full, but it’s about enjoying things in smaller portion sizes, but with extreme quality – I’m still learning.

Soba soup at the end of our meal at Narutomi Soba
Soba soup at the end of our meal at Narutomi Soba

At the end of our meal, the waitress brought us little cups of soup, which she explained was the water which the soba noodles were cooked in.

I added a little bit of dipping sauce into the soup, before taking a drink.

It was thick almost like a gravy, but at the same time it was creamy like milk. But instead of that silky texture, it it had a little bit of grainy texture, from that buckwheat.

It was actually really good, and a nice way to end a satisfying meal.

That's the restaurant you're looking for!
That’s the restaurant you’re looking for!

Here’s the video of the complete soba and tempura meal I ate at Narutomi Soba (手打ち蕎麦 成冨). Watch it below now…

(If you can’t see the video, watch it here: http://youtu.be/nw1whY-8NbY)

Narutomi Soba (手打ち蕎麦 成冨)

To be honest, it was a little on the expensive side for me to eat noodles, but it was extremely good, and you can just taste, in each bite, the care that the chef puts into his cooking.

Address: 8-18-6 Ginza, Chuo-ku,Tokyo
Open hours: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm  and 6 pm – 8:45 pm on Monday -Friday,  11:30 am – 3 pm on Saturday, closed on Sunday
Prices: Expect to pay about 1,500 – 2,000 JPY per person ($14.68 – $19.57)

How to get there

The restaurant is located very near Tsukijishijo Station, but I actually took a walk from Ginza, which only took about 10 minutes. It’s also very close to the Tsukiji Fish Market.

PLEASE READ (April 2016): This restaurant is ONLY open to members, no longer open to the public. If you show up to eat here, you’ll be turned away.

Check out more of my Tokyo travel tips here.

26 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • High Rated Gabru

    3 years ago

    Nice food blog. Thanks for share.

  • sankar singh

    3 years ago

    amazing content writing nice food blog along with picrues,Blogging is hard because of the grind required to stay interesting and relevant.
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  • Shammy Le

    8 years ago

    Thanks for your review, so detail and excellent.
    howerver, I wonder how I have lunch here if i’m only visitor.

  • Yukari Sakamoto

    8 years ago

    Konnichiwa, Mark,

    Can you please take this off your site? The soba shop now is members only and any visitors will be turned away.

    Hope you are well!

    • Mark Wiens

      8 years ago

      Thank you Yukari, will update.

    • jerm

      7 years ago

      🙁 how do you become a member?

  • Jamie

    9 years ago

    Wanted to try this for my upcoming trip to Japan, though now that I’m seeing these comments and have looked elsewhere, I’m wondering if it’s worth going (it appears they even refuse anglophone Asians). Is the food good enough that I should still make the attempt?

  • Sang Kancil Guru

    9 years ago

    That’s not very nice, if not downright racist to reject customers because they are not Japanese. Imagine if something similar happened in America where an African-American or Woman is refused entrance to a restaurant because he/she is not a White Male.

    “Membership only” is a laughable excuse. Need to be a member of the Japanese race?

    Absolutely unacceptable and inexcusable behavior from this soba place.

  • Ada Wilkinson

    9 years ago

    Hello Mark,

    Some restaurants just refuse gaijins assuming that they don’t speak Japanese. Thank you for sharing your experience about this place, I have yet to try this. Perhaps if you will come back in Japan, you should try the best hand-made Soda and Udon in the country which is in Hida-Takayama! We were just there last weekend and it was awesome.


    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Hey Ada, great to hear from you, thank you for sharing. I would love to come back to Japan again, and if I do I’ll be sure to check out your suggestion – sounds wonderful. Thank you again, hope you’re doing well.

  • Charlie

    9 years ago

    The noodles look amazing! I’m here with my partner from Australia. We’re both traveling around Japan and thought we’d give 100% buckwheat soba noodles a go (as I’m gluten intolerant). We travelled a good 20-30 mins from Taito, Ueno only to be refused service immediately at the door. A nervous waitress opened the door half ajar and said ‘members only’ before slamming the door in our face. It was bizarre. Suffice to say they may no longer be keen on tourists. Have to look elsewhere! Looks like an amazing experience though, if you can get through the front door.

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Hi Charlie, thank you for sharing, sorry about not being let in. I’ll make a note of this on the article for future. Thanks again, and hope you’re enjoying your time in Japan.

  • Michael

    9 years ago

    For the record, as of January 2015, I also got kindly asked to leave at lunch for not being Japanese

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Thanks for sharing Michael, will note that on the article.

  • Maria Falvey

    10 years ago

    Everything about this meal is gorgeous – equipment to noodles. Wow!

    • Mark Wiens

      10 years ago

      I agree Maria – it was one of those meals that was simple but had so much passion.

  • Mike | Earthdrifter

    10 years ago

    You must be in heaven exploring Japanese food culture. For a non spicy cuisine, it’s miraculously fun and tasty. They don’t mess around.

    • Mark Wiens

      10 years ago

      Hey Mike, yes definitely. The simplicity and purity of Japanese food is mind-blowing… and delicious!

    • Sebastian

      9 years ago

      Went there after 6pm and got refused to eat – membership only was the given reason. I was dressed well, spoke japanese and even held up the door for the customer leaving before my arrival, so I am utmost certain that it was not due to some sort of etiquette violation.

      I was looking forwards to the meal all day long and was sad to come here from shinjuku for naught.

      I did notice a few too many suited gentlemen, getting me think about having arrived in a bad time, if you know what I mean.
      If you go there, I recommend going for lunch – maye your chances are better then.

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Hey Sebastian, thank you for sharing, man sorry to hear about that. I went for lunch and had no problem, but never thought there might be an issue for dinner. Thank you for letting us all know.

    • Sebastian

      9 years ago

      Maybe they had a bad experience with gaijin recently, hence the direct refusal – I looked on the web and stumbled upon a group of four that had been refused to enter “due to lack of space” when there were but 2 other guests. I was quite sad that I couldn’t taste the absolutely fantastical looking soba, served in such a tastefully designed restaurant. One look at the kitchen was enough to get a hunch on the craftsmanship.
      I actually considered checking again in the morning, but that might appear rude.

      Eitherway thank you for your reply and generally your food experience stories that you are sharing with us. Loved your videos about Tokyo and am hoping to be more lucky with ラーメン tomorrow. – I’m a big fan of garlic in my Ramen as well, haha.

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Thanks Sebastian, all the best. How long have you been living in Tokyo?

    • Sebastian

      9 years ago

      I actually just came here for a week after living in Fukuoka to study Japanese for three months. Going back home to Switzerland tomorrow.

      Ramen and Sukiyaki today (Gyunabe) were both fantastic, thanks for the detailed guides about them – I really apreciated the mention of opening hours and location.

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Ok, good to hear that. Have a great trip back to Switzerland, keep enjoying the food!