There is a little soba place in Mizumoto. It's not that much bigger than the kitchen, really.
There are few tables of course, but only a few. Maybe twelve people could sit down inside all at the same time. Or maybe a couple more if everyone squeezed in tight.
This gentleman runs the establishment with his wife. They live upstairs, and essentially you are eating in their home. Out back where the you might expect the laundry machine to be in the house of some suburban enclave, is instead where the sinks for the noodle room are. They will roll fresh noodles to order here if you call them in advance. Think about that. I'm not saying they will heat the noodles for your party. I'm saying they will create the noodles for you.
There's a short menu of items to look at, but this is the kind of place where everyone knows their order before they sit down. In season there will be a cool soba tea to drink as you sit down, and boy is it good.
But on this day we opt for beers. If you'd like you can do as the older male customers do: you can drink your beer down, maybe get a second beer, and then you can order your noodles. That's right. I had to think about it for awhile too. The traditional mindset is that you don't want the flavor of the beer interfering with the flavor of the noodles. Soba noodles have a complex taste, after all. Better to let the purity of that taste come through on its own. Pairing be damned. You might think that having a beer before you order might take awhile. And you'd be right. None of the customers are in a rush around here. This is leisure time. So go ahead, drink your beer.
And then maybe order up the fresh scooped tofu to start. It's still warm.
The proprietor and his wife have a fondness for bird watching. There is a large park nearby, and they go whenever they can. Some of their favorite bird photographs line the walls. There is also a tv nearby, in case you want to watch the game. You can tell that this place has been setup in a way that the owners like, that is comfortable for what they enjoy, and maybe that is why they are always in a good mood.
When the time comes there is the soba. The flavor is great, sure. But what sets these cold noodles apart for me is the texture. There is a firmness, but also a delicacy. The Chambolle of noodles. Or maybe a fine sake is the better comparison.
Tempura vegetables on the side. I also like the duck soba here quite a bit.
Afterwards you can pour this hot liquid into your dipping sauce and make a broth. And hey, it's okay, you can cheat: go ahead and have another beer.
I don't know of any restaurant that I look forward to dining at more than this one.