Ando and Korin - two soba restaurants in Hamadayama
There are two relatively well-known soba restaurants in Hamadayama: Ando and Korin. While Ando operates in its second generation, Korin started its business less than a decade. It seems to me that many private evaluations of the two restaurants on the internet are favorable to Korin.
In fact Ando and Korin are in contrast with each other.
Ando is in its own building of undressed concrete, which is unique for restaurants serving traditional Japanese foods such as soba. However, naked concrete surface very much fits traditional wooden furniture and creates a good surrounding for soba eating. Its tableware is also traditional and I am fond of drinking sake from a masu(*)
made of Japanese cypress.
- "Masu" is square wooden cup made for measuring liquid.
Sake in a wooden cup served with salt.
Entrance of Ando
"Seiro" - simply boiled soba noodle
Soba noodle of Ando well keeps the fragrance of buckwheat, is relatively thick and has the consistency of dough. I like its texture. Unfortunately noodle is not drained enough after boiling and tastes watery. The preparation of tidbits is also problematic. It seems to me that Ando uses pre-cooked foodstuffs and as a result rolled egg is served cold and simmered herring is too soft.
I should not forget to mention the grandma, the institution of Ando. She serves guests with somewhat slower tempo characteristic for old people and collects money at the checkout. There is no doubt that she creates the relaxing atmosphere of Ando.
Entrance of Korin
On the other hand, Korin is designed in the modern Japanese style. Its space is rather limited and decorated with interesting art objects. When guests take seats, the owner nears them and says a few words for welcome, which symbolizes the polite and careful service of Korin. What impresses me is the variety of tidbits menus of Korin. They are conceived with fantasy and prepared carefully. It has also a good choice of alcohol. Korin's soba noodle is thin and elastic, but for me a bit too delicate. All in all soba and tidbit dishes of Korin might be popular among women.
Sakura-soba - presently my favorite menu of Korin
As the texture of Korin's soba is not strong enough for me to enjoy the taste of soba, Korin was not my favorite for a while until I happened to find its "Sakura soba". "Sakura soba" is in fact one of my most favorite soba menus these days. Sakura soba is a cold soup noodle topped with a thick layer of Sakura-ebi (**)
. Sakura-ebi is deep fried beforehand and tastes crispy and fragrant. A small ball of grated radish is assorted and the noodle bowl looks highly appetizing. I really became a bit addictive with "Sakura soba"!
- Sakura-ebi is a sort of small shrimp, in English "sergia lucens".
Both Ando and Korin have special characteristics and are indeed more than the average. If you happen to be in Hamadayama, please be sure that you have good possibility to enjoy good soba dining.