Standing Soba Shops are a cultural institution in Tokyo and a MUST for visitors wishing to experience the real Tokyo. The lack of tables or chairs creates an intimate environment, as you’re forced to rub shoulders with everyday “salarymen” at counter tops. Not to mention, standing soba shops are cheap – perfect for the budget traveler.
Standing while eating, or “tachigui”, is rightfully representative of fast-moving Tokyo. Tokyoites will conveniently grab some quick soba before again being whisked away by the hustle and bustle of the city.
Here are 3 Awesome Tokyo Standing Soba Shops.
#3 Kasagi Soba, Fukusawa Branch (笠置そば 深川店)
Kasagi Soba is a standing soba chain with several branches in Tokyo, including Shinjuku, Kamiyacho, and Kanda. But the branch I went to in Fukusawa is the highest rated one.
An older gentleman and lady will prepare your noodles, which are round, yet firm in texture. My first bowl was soba with seafood in fried frisbee form (海鮮かき そば). This was only 500 Yen. This fried frisbee prep is known as “kakiage”, and is often done for vegetables.
The soup was perfect for this brisk winter day, being a combination of salty and sweet, the sweetness coming from the frisbee.
I also ordered the duck soba (鴨そば) for 470 Yen. The duck meat conquered the soup, making it a little saltier. There are plenty of other choices beyond these 2 sobas.
You can also order combos. The “Curry don” set will come with a basic bowl of soba and a bowl of curry rice. Only 550 Yen! Cheap! At the table you’ll find red ginger and pickles for your curry and chopped onions for your soba.
This place packs up quickly during lunch so go early if you can. I was the only one to arrive at 11:20 but by 11:45 it was packed.
Train Station: Monzen-nakacho (Tozai Line, Oedo Line)
Shop Hours: Weekdays: 6:45 – 14:30 / Saturdays: 6:45 – 14:00
#2 Gangi, Mita Branch (がんぎ 三田店)
This place also has a few branches…2 in Shinkawa, but the Mita branch is more central, and this is where I went. They have English menus too!
Gangi also has a old school vibe…no surprise for standing soba.
I ordered the わかめそば (literally, seaweed soba) for 460 Yen. I wanted to order the set meal, which comes with curry, but unfortunately they ran out of this by the time I arrived.
The noodles are soft, a joy to bite into and are rounder, like spaghetti noodles. The noodles win the trophy here. Wakame isn’t exactly exploding with flavor so ordering tempura or another topping might have provided more flavor.
Train Station: Mita (Asakusa, Mita Lines) / Tamachi (Yamanote Line)
Shop Hours: 10:00 – 21:00 (Closed on Weekends, Natl Holidays)
#3 Sobausa in Hanzomon (そばうさ)
Located in the business district of Hanzomon, this place is fantastic – fusion soba, if you can call it that. East meets west and it’s frigging delicious. Run by 2 youngsters too. I went right at when it opens for lunch at 11.
I’ll let the dishes speak for themselves.
Their “Cold-Style Basil Soba” (バジル冷そば) is divine. Your soba noodles are surrounded by ham, runny egg, and negi. Those noodles are dipped in a separate bowl of sweet basil-based sauce.
The basil is perfect, not overpowering, and the noodles firm and chewy. 800 Yen and well worth it.
I’m crazy so I ordered another one…the “Stamina Cold-Style Mixed Udon” (スタミナ冷まぜうどん). This too has a nice taste, albeit lighter but also with plenty of sesame seeds too. The minced meat ensures a lingering meaty taste, one accentuated with the green onions. The base is a bit saltier.
The interior is simple but for a standing spot, relatively spacious. They must love Beck..there was a big Beck poster and his music was blaring the whole time…works for me! The contrast was amusing…an almost psychedelic vibe in uptight Hanzomon, with these men in dark suits eating Western charged soba.
Train Station: Hanzomon (Hanzomon Line), Kojimachi (Yurakucho Line)
Shop Hours: Weekdays: 11:00 – 15:00 / 17:00 – 21:00 // Saturdays: 11:00 – 15:00 (Closed on Sundays, Natl Holidays)