Abundant Sake variety of “Sobamae Tsurugi” in Asakusa !


Good day!
Thank you very much for visiting this blog.

Today’s report is written by myself after a long time.
The restaurant which I introduce you today is a soba noodles restaurant called “Sobamae Tsurugi” in Asakusa.




A soba restaurant behind Kamiya Bar, “Sobamae Tsurugi”

The time was nearly the end of March, when most of the cherry trees along Sumida River had bloomed.
I’d been working until 3 o’clock in mid night every day including weekends as a system development consultant and business consultant in a subsidiary company of a famous manufacturer since February 2019.

For the system development, I didn’t do the coding directly so it was not a big work.
On the other hand, the business consulting was a big one because I had to do almost everything such as the first hearing and the suggestions for improvement.

Summarizing the opinions, analyzing the situation, making improvement plans and presentations, and building excel tools…
It wouldn’t be so busy if my job was only one from the system development and business consulting, but my case was both, and the deadline of the works was the same timing which made me even busier.

I worked until around 3 in midnight every day for those jobs, and the project finished successfully at the end.
I worked at my client’s office.

On the last day of the project, I finished my work at 6 in the evening and went home.
I was very short of sleep, so I went to bed at 11 after a small drink.

I had some work to do on the next day.
I worked at the client’s place until 7 in the evening, and went back to Asakusa.

I couldn’t get off from my exhaustion with only 1 day-sleeping, so I wanted to go back straight home first.
However, I changed my mind and decided to go somewhere to drink before going home because I wanted to start April which is the start of a new business year in Japan, and also, the last month of the Heisei period, with my own article.

As usual, I wandered in Asakusa for about 40 minutes searching a restaurant which looked comfortable and friendly for me, and finally reached today’s restaurant, “Sobamae Tsurugi“.
It’s on the basement floor of a building which stands in the back of Kamiya Bar in Asakusa.

I thought that the restaurant was easy to go alone.
It was not because I had known what the inside was like, or because I saw a comment like “friendly for single visitors” on a rating website.

It was because I saw a lady entering the restaurant alone, and thought that it must be comfortable for lonely customers as well.
More people visit Asakusa compared to before, and most of the customers we see in restaurants are groups of more than 2 people.
It’s been a little uncomfortable for single visitors.

Well, this is the story of how I reached “Sobamae Tsurugi”.
The inside of the restaurant was not like typical soba restaurants.

It was more like a high-class Japanese food restaurant in Ginza.
Stylish indirect lighting, bamboo decorations on the cream colored wall, and tables and seats which suited such interior were making a gorgeous atmosphere.

I was guided to a table for 2 people.


The menu of “Sobamae Tsurugi”

I looked at the menu on the table to order a drink first.
There were 1 sheet of foods and drinks, 1 sheet for foods only, and 2 sheets for Japanese sake.
These photos below are the sake menu.



There are numbers on each sake name, and I can see number “36” on an Okinawa sake “Reimei” which is on the last line.

In addition, there were another 4 “premium” sake; Junmai Daiginjo (a type of classification of Sake) of “Kubota”, “Nabeshima”, and “Hana-abi”, and Tokubetsu Junmaishu (another class of sake) of “Hiroki”.
In total, there were 40 sake menus!
I could see that the restaurant had a special service in Sake.

This website actually has a lot of items in the sake database.
There are 2201 names registered as of April 1st, 2019.
Even when I only see the number of “brands” such as “Kubota” and “Nabeshima” (there are usually some different “labels” under “brand” names), there are 892 brands in the database.

Even though I see such a big number of sake on my website, there were many “brands” which I had never seen on the menu sheets.
The sake I saw for the first time was 14 brands.
35 % of the whole menus was new for me.

I’m a bit proud of my good memory.
Of course, I remember almost all names in the sake database.
I was surprised at how big the number of sake is, and I was so impressed by the restaurant’s deep and wide knowledge to prepare many sake.

Well, for a person who is not good at deciding things like me, it was very difficult to choose what to order from such a wide variety.
It would take a long time to choose one, so I started to choose foods first.


It was strange that the food menu looked little comparing their sake menu even though it was not.

By the way, I have a habit to eat too much when I’m busy in work.
The daily intake calories in the last one and a half months was rather too much.

However, I had had much sleep on the night before, so I could control my reason.
I had had proper meals in the morning and lunch time, so I wanted to reduce the volume of the dinner.
I decided to take one each from light snacks, salad, and duck dishes.


The first glass: “Nambu Bijin Tokubetsu Junmaishu”

I called a staff and ordered foods.
For the first drink, I chose “Nambu Bijin Tokubetsu Junmaishu” because it was “Tsurugi’s recommendation!” according to the menu sheet.

After a while, the sake arrived with the appetizer.


The appetizer was a raw oyster!

I like the typical cooked dishes which we often see as appetizers at Izakaya restaurants, but I got excited to have the oyster because it looked gorgeous compared to the normal appetizers.

In addition, it was a good service of them to provide a glass of water with sake.
Sake is classified as a fermented liquor.
Most fermented liquors like beer are not so high alcohol content, but Sake is exceptionally strong, and easy to get drunk.

Therefore, it is better to take water while drinking sake if you don’t want to get hangover.
It was a nice hospitality of the restaurant to prepare water.

Now, I started the sake.
I had a sip of “Nambu Bijin” praising my finishing up the big project in my mind.

The scent and the taste were like those of white wine.
It had elegant and not too much sweetness, but the taste was dry and after taste was clear and light.

I tried it with the raw oyster.
The sake pulled out the oyster’s flavor and made it milder, and they went through my throat together nicely.

According to the website of the brewery, “Nambu Bijin”, “Nambu Bijin Tokubetsu Junmaishu” won the first prize of Sake category called “Champion Sake” in International Wine Challenge (IWC) in 2017.

By the way, the sake which won this prize are served in the official receptions of Japan embassies in all over the world as a part of the supporting measures for overseas expansion of Nihonshu by Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Indeed, the sake was very nice and deserves it.


The second glass; “Nambu Bijin Tokubetsu Junmaishu”

The first “Nambu Bijin” was very smooth to drink and delicious, so I finished it quickly by the time the next dish came.
I looked for a different brand first, but I really liked the first sake so I ordered another glass of “Nambu Bijin Tokubetsu Junmaishu”.
I tried the sake with the three dishes I had ordered.

The first dish was “cream cheese with Shuto”.


“Shuto” is salted and fermented fish entrails which is known as a good snack for sake.

I tasted Shuto first.
It was not too salty, and I felt rich flavor of the ingredients.
On the other hand, the cream cheese had mild sweetness.
When I had them together, the salty taste of Shuto went behind, and the sweetness of the cheese and rich flavor of Shuto helped each other and became bigger.

I had it with “Nambu Bijin” next.
The sake kept the balance of sweetness and Shuto’s flavor, and made the after taste light and clear.
I thought that the combination of the sake and the dish was good.

The second food is “Tsurugi Salad”.


The menu name sounded special as it had the name of the restaurant.

In the salad, there were tofu, and wakame seaweed apart from vegetables.
In addition, there were some spices on the vegetables, and Sobagaki (Soba dumpling) on the top.
I thought that the salad was called “Tsurugi Salad” because it had Sobagaki.

I tasted it, and felt that the dressing was based on Yuzu citrus flavor.
Chopped myoga (Japanese ginger) as the spice added a good accent of fresh bitterness.

The tofu was Momen-dofu (a type of tofu which is a little firm) which had rich taste of soy beans in the ingredient.
I tried the tofu with the sake, and found that the sake made the tofu’s flavor a little stronger.
I thought that the sake had a unique characteristic of making light flavored foods taste thicker.

And the third one is the main dish, “grilled duck and leek seasoned with miso”.


I was excited about this dish because it was very like a Sobe restaurant’s menu.

The taste was… very good!
It had a strong miso taste, but the good flavor of the duck was still clear.
I felt that the miso was a mixture of red miso and white miso.

The reason why I thought so was that it tasted similar to the miso ramen soup of the ramen restaurant which my parents ran.
The soup of my parents’ miso ramen was also the mixture of red miso and white miso.

I had the dish with “Nambu Bijin”, and found that they didn’t disturb each other.
As well as “cream cheese with Shuto”, the sake just made the after taste light and clear.
The sake didn’t give too much influence to the foods with rich flavors, but it refreshes the tongue later.


The third glass; “Machida Shuzo”

I finished the salad, grilled duck, and “Nambu Bijin” at the same time.
I thought of ordering Soba noodles for the conclusion.
I still had “cream cheese with Shuto” left, so I ordered another glass of sake together with Soba.

The last sake was “Machida Shuzo Tokubetsu Junmai Nama“.
The name is the same as the brewery’s name.

I chose this because I was interested in its unique name.
It is made in Gunma Prefecture which is also my hometown.

I had a sip.
Ummm, the taste was unique, but nice.

It didn’t have much scent.
The texture was a little thick in my mouth.

The taste was a little sweet and light.
It’s meant to be clear and light, but maybe because of the thick texture, it also had a heavy impression.
This is why I thought that it was unique.

I also thought that it was like 30 year aged “Miyakobijin” which I had at my old favorite Yakiniku (Korean BBQ) restaurant.
I tried the sake with “cream cheese and Shuto” next.

The sake made the sweetness of the cheese and the flavor of Shuto richer.
Probably, the sake helps the flavors of foods with thick tastes become stronger.


In conclusion…

When I was about to finish “Machida Shuzo”,


The Soba for the conclusion of the meal arrived.

Ramen after drinking is fantastic, but Soba to finish up the drinking night is also great.
This Soba is “Juwari Soba” (made of 100% backwheat).

This restaurant uses Soba powder from various places in Japan.
They had a board at the entrance to introduce “Soba of the day” and the details of the Soba variety and the production area.

By the way, I didn’t notice this board when I was in the restaurant.
I found this when I was checking photos to write this article^^;

The texture of the noodles was really smooth in my throat.
The noodles caught the soup with rich flavor well.
It was so smooth that I ate it like drinking.

Therefore, I couldn’t study the details of the Soba much because I had it so quickly.
Well, we are meant to enjoy Soba with its smooth texture in our throats.
We shouldn’t chew it too much, anyway!

It can be said that the Soba was so good that I couldn’t stop eating.
I failed to see the details^^;;;


Well, this restaurant was really great.

The foods were very like a Soba restaurant.
Duck dishes and Tempura were the main food menus apart from Soba noodles, and other snacks for Sake were nice, too.

The biggest unique point was their huge variety of Sake!
It’s so attractive for Sake lovers.

It’s also convenient that they are open until 11 in the evening while most of other restaurants in Asakusa close at around 9.
Local people like me can visit restaurants for some drinks after work if the restaurants are open until late.
It should be nice for tourists as well to enjoy drinking at a Soba restaurant like old Edo people used to do in Asakusa where Edo’s atmosphere still exists.

It seems that the client who I work with now will give me jobs continuously for a while, so I want to visit this restaurant once in a couple weeks after work to try more sake.

I’ve written blogs to introduce various Izakaya restaurants so far.
I can ask to write about restaurants to other writers.
I’d like to write about one restaurant more deeply, and study their sake more in the articles.

For example, I can visit today’s restaurant some times, and order “cream cheese with Shuto” every time.
It should be interesting to see the combination with various sake and write about the differences.

The rich Sake menus of the restaurant, “Sobamae Tsurugi”, gave me such an idea.
I hope that I will have enough jobs to be able to drink after work.


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