Down old East Village way is a little soba place called Soba-ya that is just the bees knees. I’ve been there twice now, so it’s finally time to post on the sake happenings at this terrific soba joint. First thing to know – there will always be a wait to be seated if you arrive without reservations- this place is popular! The interior could pass for your standard just-above-average sushi restaurant, but I don’t think people come here for the ambiance.
It was raining the night I went last, so we lucked out and there was only about a 10 min wait to sit at the bar – which is the most fun place to sit in most japanese restaurants anyway, i’m learning. Before we get to the sake, a quick word on the food. ok, it’s delicious. The soba is perfect and the tempura is dreamy. Something I learned: They also give you soba cooking water to pour into your dipping sauce to make a yummy broth to finish your meal – I wasn’t sure what to make of this practice at first, but it’s really delicious. It’s like a free soup with your meal! and nothing goes to waste.
Soba-ya sake menu is broad and well chosen. This could almost be sake soba heaven. I say almost because there is one tiny little drawback. What is it? All about the Moola. The prices were a bit on the steep side – about $18 for a single masu. This sticker shock drove me again to a carafe of a lower-priced, yet lovable stand by: Kurosawa Junmai Kimoto (Kurosawa Brewing Co., SMV +2, Junmai Kimoto, Nagano Prefecture). Ahh… Kurosawa Junmai Kimoto is a favorite of this sake lover. It may not be overly complex or layered but, it is smooth, drinkable, a touch dry and I think it pairs just perfectly with more hearty fare like the tempura I was enjoying. Since this Junmai is easy on the wallet, i try to buy this sauce in the 1.8 liter size and I think it often as an everyday sipping sake after a long day at work.
After my Kurosawa ni-go carafe ran low, I looked again to the sake menu for something else – I wanted just one more “go”! for the evening. I turned to another well known sake: Dewazakura Izumijudan Ginjo (â€Tenth Degreeâ€ ALC 17.5% SMV +12, Acidity 1.4, Seimaibuai 50%, Yamagata Prefecture). This charmer is drier and more layered than the Kurosawa. It goes down smooth, though and I really enjoyed it. It has a nice depth of flavor that was great to sip on after my meal.
When all is said and done, the folks at Soba-ya get it right. They focus on great soba and terrific sakes to go with them. If headed here to make a sake soaked night of it, be prepared for the nihon-shu prices, but if you plan well and drink conservatively, you will no doubt leave happier than you arrived.