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Jun 20, 2008 06:30 AM


Anyone tried yet? Wondering how the soba compares to soba ya and soba koh. It's in my hood so its easier to get to than the others. Is it a lot more expensive?

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  1. Haven't been yet. Heard about the Sea Urchin Bukkake. A legitimate Japanese dish but what a name. My prediction is he will change it quickly.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Gossomer

      haha thats really the name of the dish? thats great, im going their strictly to order it

      i walked by it a few days ago, its in the old 66 space, looks very nice inside...ridiculously nice for a soba place

      1. re: Gossomer

        Why would they change the name of a dish that's the actual Japanese term for the dish? Uni bukkake soba (うにぶっかけ蕎麦). If you have trouble because the term has some perverse sexual meaning to you, well, it probably has more to do with you than the restaurant.

        1. re: E Eto

          I hear you E Eto. I said it was a legitimate Japanese dish. Check out Eater from yesterday. That is where I heard this. Apparently I am not the only one surprised by the name of this dish. And I think more than a few people will have a chuckle when ordering it. This is America after all and not Japan.

          1. re: Gossomer

            theres at least 4 other restaurants serving bukkake noodles for years in NYC and nobody takes notice till now.

      2. I went to Matsugen tonight. The bukkake soba is still on the menu, but written in Japanese as bukkake and Matsugen special soba in english.

        We started with appetizer trio of Yuba Sashimi, Uni Sashimi in Yuzu Gelee, Chilled Asparagus in Sesame sauce.

        The yuba sashimi is probably one of the best yubas I've ever eaten, served with just a bit of dashi shoyu and fresh wasabi. I enjoyed the rich, nutty, creamy simplicity.

        The uni from hokkaido was very orange and very creamy, very good but not as good as some of the uni I've had at Tokyo, Hokkaido, kanoyama, and jewel bako in their prime. I prefer my uni to be firmer.

        The hokkaido asparagus was perfectly blanched, but this dish seemed pretty pedestrian and like something I would make at home.

        Next we had kumamoto oysters with 3 different topped sauces.
        ponzu with momeji - pretty much the standard at a lot of places, but never the less very good
        yuzu kosho jelly with yuzu zest - very good could have used a bit more yuzu flavor
        sugar and rice vinegar - so simple but probably the best of the trio.
        The oysters were very fresh and briny.

        kagoshima gyu shabu shabu salad - Barely blanched kagoshima beef over mixed greens with a sesame dressing. The beef was excellent, barely cooked, tender and flavorful. The gomabara dressing tasted very fresh like the sesame was justed roasted. The atypical salad greens were kinda bland, I would have preferred mizuna or some more exotic salad greens.

        We asked to substitute for Inaka soba which has a nuttier rougher texture in both our sobas. The soba itself is excellent, very chewy, nutty, and complex. I think its better than soba totto's, soba koh, even Honmura An, and leagues better than sobaya.

        Bukake Uni Soba - Soba topped with Hokkaido Uni, Sesame, myoga, shiso, osen tamago, fresh wasabi, yamaimo, katsuobushi. Very good, the uni here was better than the uni in our appetizer. I'm not sure if most people will enjoy the sliminess of this dish from the yamaimo, uni, onsen tamago, once they pour the dashi on top and mix it up. A very refreshing summer dish.

        Ebi tempura Zaru Soba - Cold soba with 2 pieces of Shrimp tempura, one piece of kabocha, and one piece of shiranegi, The tempura here was very weak. One piece of shrimp was overcooked and tough at one end and very greasy. The tempura batter was of the thinner variety similar to Soba Totto's which I'm not too crazy about. I would have preferred either the darker Tokyo style or the more puffier Kyoto style. The soba dipping sauce was very good, had a very strong katsuo taste and was not too salty. They only gave me some sliced shiranegi to put into my tsuyu;some wasabi, and shiso would have been nice.

        Deserts were excellent.

        Matsugen Parfait - Home made Matcha, and Vanilla Ice cream with Fukuoka Strawberries, Warabi Mochi, Kinako Powder, Black Sugar Syrup, Hokkaido Red Beans. The ice creams were excellent and went well with the red beans, and kinako powder tasted like it was just roasted. The strawberries did not lose their sweetness in the mixture. This actually better than some of the parfaits I've had in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hokkaido.

        Anin Tofu with Strawberry Water - This was very good as well. This was probably the only almond tofu I ever had that grinded almonds in it. The strawberry water only complimented the tofu and did not overpower it.

        One concern we had was how will the quality hold up once the opening team of chefs return to Tokyo(the manager mentioned to us they flew their chefs in from their Ginza location), and will they source ingredients locally eventually instead of having ingredients shipped from several different prefectures in Japan.

        Also the wait staff could have done a better job explaining how to eat each dish better to diners who have never had soba before. Around us we saw other tables confused with what to do with tsuyu(pouring it directly on their soba and splashing all over themselves) and poking at their onsen tamagos. One instance we saw a girl put only grated daikon on her tempura and not mixing it with the dipping sauce and complaining it had no taste. I can see where the negative reviews are coming from.

        Overall I thought the food was excellent except for the tempura and would return when it gets cooler to have their shabu shabu and perhaps try their sushi. And speaking of sushi, the restrooms are located behind the sushi counter which I thought was awkward and could be a problem for the chefs when it gets busy and people are navigating behind them while they're cutting fish.

        13 Replies
        1. re: Ricky

          I miss Honmura An's uni soba. Was this comparable? Sounds like it is.

          1. re: guttergourmet

            I dont know if I could say it was. At Matsugen its a bukake soba and you mix all the chopped ingredients together with the tsuyu. At Honmura An, the soba was designed to have one eat a little bit of soba and a little bit of uni similar to Soba Koh's Uni soba.

            1. re: guttergourmet

              We went to Matsugen last night and there were some definite high points of the meal for me but unfortunately, compared to my memories of Honmura An, the soba wasnt one of them. We shared a lot of appetizers, and the high points for me were there grilled pork belly (some of the best pork belly I've ever had honestly) and the grilled eel with cucumber (up there with some of my favorite eel memories). I'm pregnant and sadly had to skip a lot of the other things we ordered to start with (cry) but I'm told the oysters were great.

              Now the soba.....I dont consider myself an expert. My experience has pretty much been limited to lots of Honmura An when they were around the corner from my office. Now HA's soba was lovely and delicate and would easily break against the side of the bowl. The other flavors in the broth used to knock me out too. My favorite was always the ebi variety or the duck. My husband and I each had hot soba while a couple friends opted cold. The ebi version had a pretty flavorable broth (not quite HA's), the tempura shrimp (not the massive kyoto ones from HA) were served alongside a very tough piece of something unrecognizable (I think Ricky above had the same experience) and tempura vegetable or two. The noodles were really what surprised me and I'd love to know more about this from soba experts. They noodles were nothing whatsoever like the soba from HA. Much thicker, like spaghetti thick, and not the greyish color of HA. Much more awkward to eat (not a big deal) too as they dont break easily to the touch like at HA. Are there simply a number of schools of Soba thought and both are valid? It wasn't bad, just not as tasty as what I remember from HA. So I completely disagree with Ricky on the flavor and depth of it compared to HA. It was really bland imo

              One of our friends was pretty disappointed in the cold soba. Esp with the similarity to cold unadorned spaghetti with a mildly interesting duck soup dipping bowl that was hot. Here the blandless of the soba was much more apparant.

              Overall, were I to go back, it would be more for the non soba dishes we tried.

              Anyway recommend other soba houses in the city that are more of the Honmura An soba style? :)

              1. re: Nehna

                I'm reading with great interest regarding the soba, as I've been making my own at home from scratch: manual stone grinding the groats to start and finishing about 3 hours later (if I'm lucky) in front of my final product ready to eat.

                From what I've tried so far, I can say that if it was 100% buckwheat (no wheat added) it would be much more delicate and could like you say, "easily break againist the side of the bowl". 100% soba is also more difficult to roll and cut, to look perfectly and uniformly shaped.

                Most recipes calls for a 70/30 or 80/20 buckwheat/wheat ratio. Only the "old fashion" noodle makers still make the 100%, I've read. It would be very ambitious for a restaurant to make 100% buckwheat noodles.

                I don't know all the soba restaurant's ratio of ingredients except Sobaya's, which is 80/20. But besides using wheat flour one can also use vital wheat gluten, or yam flour in order to make the noodles more elastic and much easier to cut and stay in good form. It will tend to be smoother,lighter, thinner, and more slippery. If it's over chilled, you could very well just eat it and not get any buckwheat flavor at all.

                If Matsugen has 3 different textures, I think the corsest kind might need some sort of binding element because otherwise it's almost impossible to hold together. I'd be curious to find out what percentages and ingredients everyone's favorite soba restaurants use to make their soba bind together.

                1. re: HLing

                  Wow that's pretty cool that you make your own soba, would love to try that.

                  Found this old NY Times article about Honmura An's soba:

                  and it sounds like theirs was indeed 100% buckwheat and hence so different from Matsugen's. I do think Matsugen had a more delicate option available but for some reason it was only available cold.

                  1. re: Nehna

                    Soba at 15 East is indeed the closest one you can find to Honamura On's.

                    1. re: kobetobiko

                      it's close to hanamura an's soba because its the same soba chef

                      1. re: foodwhisperer

                        I know. I posted this in a few other posts about this.

                      2. re: kobetobiko

                        I'm curious about 15 East but disappointed to see that they only ever have one Soba preparation option to choose and only at dinner...? I mean it's better than nothing, but I'd rather have at least a few soba options to choose from :(

                      3. re: Nehna

                        Nehna, nice to hear a chowpup is on the way, congrats!
                        Making your own soba is addictive. No matter how poorly mine turned out each time, the experience is always gratifying, and of course, humbling.

                        Foodwhisperer, I wouldn't call my little spiel "education", but just thought I'd share what is being freshly learned and experienced at the moment. In fact I'm kicking myself for not going to Honmura An before it closed. I've only had soba there once, maybe 5 years ago, at a time when I had no concept of soba at all. It's all a matter of timing of when something starts to fascinate (me). Oh well.

                        Your note about tempura is very intriguing. How would you describe and compare a perfect tempura to ones we get here?

                        1. re: HLing

                          perfect tempura has to be tasted, the crispness is exactly right , the oil content isnt excessive, the flavor of the batter is not overpowering but great , the ingredients used are best quality . The method of the tempura master is fascinating to watch. It's just special , got to go to japan and experience it at a tempura only restaurant. Especially the one on the 9th floor of an office building in Ginza.
                          By the way , as i mentioned in another post, the chef from Hanamura An makes soba uni at 15 east

                      4. re: HLing

                        HLing,, thank you for the education on soba. Honamura On was the best ive had here in NY. Sobaya is only OK. I heard there is a new soba place on 4th ave around 11th st. that is supposed to be good.
                        As far as tempura goes, I never realized that tempura was such an art, until i spent time in Japan. The tempura chef trains for 7 years like a sushi chef and has the batter and technique down to a science and the end prodcut shows. I have never had any tempura here in US even comparable to a special tempura place in Tokyo on the 9th floor of a building, almost impossible to find.

                    2. re: guttergourmet

                      Honamura An's chef is at 15 East, and I think a couple of days a week makes uni soba.

                  2. I think the soba is better quality at matsugen, but way more expensive

                    1. i tried matsugen again,,just out of convenience. I would bet they close within a year. empty, overpriced, food was just ok