Kakiage towers and Italian soba? We try a unique soba restaurant in Tokyo


Is it creative madness or creative genius?

In Japan, they are now reaching winter temperatures quickly, and for many, this means switching from cold foods to warm foods. In Japan, soba noodles can be served cold or warm, and now is the perfect time to eat them hot. This is what our foodie Mr. Sato had in mind when he was looking for a new soba restaurant to try and that’s how he came across Zenmi Kotobuki.

Zenmi Kotobuki is a soba restaurant located in the Akabane district of northern Tokyo, right next to JR Akabane Station. It was almost full when he visited at lunchtime, which was already a sign that good things were likely to come.

A few things stood out on the menu. One of them was creative seasonal dishes: one with chicken wings mixed with over 10 different spices and something called Italian Meat Soba which combined pasta with tomato sauce, pork, cheese and potatoes.

And in the side menu he noticed Kakiage Tower, a type of tempura prepared by frying together batches of ingredients such as vegetables and shrimp. It looked huge so he knew he had to try and order it.

▼ For comparison, this is a medium-sized kakiage.

Decision made. Ordered both Italian Meat Soba and Kakiage Tower. After a short wait, his order was delivered.

And boy did it get delivered. When ordering the Kakiage Tower, the staff politely asked if Mr. Sato would like it cut into manageable pieces. But Mr. Sato wanted real business, so he naively declined. Now that he saw it was a real tower, he began to reconsider his decision.

Poking into it with his chopsticks, he found it heavy and quite difficult to break. This, coupled with the fact that the batter turned out a nice even color, meant that the tempura chef must be a master. Mr. Sato tried to eat the tower as it is, so he pitifully divided it into more manageable parts.

Not aesthetically, but definitely stomachic. Kudos from Mr Sato to the chef.

Now let’s move on to the Italian Meat Soba. Mr. Sato thought it was surprisingly, well, Italian in taste. Tomato sauce was added to the usual soba broth, but it was so well blended that he would have no qualms about swapping soba noodles for spaghetti.

The pork knuckle was so tender he could easily tear it apart with chopsticks. While beef is more common on Italian menus in Japan, Mr. Sato believed that pork was a suitable substitute to use in soba.

And despite typical Western ingredients like potatoes and cheese dominating the ingredients in the broth, they somehow paired perfectly with the Japanese soba. The chef must be a creative genius, Mr Sato thought, especially since…

…he was persuaded to top up his soba with olive oil, making it even more Italian than before. Super interesting and super delicious. Overall, Mr. Sato gives Zenmi Kotobuki two thumbs up. He could only try these two dishes, but he is convinced that everything on the menu will taste equally good.

Restaurant information
Zenmi Kotobuki |禅味寿
Address: Tokyo-to, Kita-ku, Akabane 1-1-1 Beans Akabane 1F
Open 11:00 – 23:00 (open until 20:00 on Sundays and holidays)

Photos ©SoraNews24 (Kakiage reference photo: SoraNews24)
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