Soba restaurant Suju Masayuki Raku near Tokyo Station doesn’t go in for refined slurps. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but their rustic, unabashedly hearty noodle bowls are sure to win some folks over.
Soba topped with pork, vegetables, and boiled egg. - image © Florentyna Leow
When I think about soba, there’s a Platonic ideal floating around in my head. For me, it is all about zaru soba, where a pile of skinny, al dente buckwheat noodles are served ice cold on a woven basket. The accompanying dipping sauce should have a good proportion of soy sauce to dashi, with plenty of depth from bonito flakes and just a touch of sweetness. Ideally there would be some finely-chopped scallions, grated ginger and a raw quail’s egg to whisk into this sauce.
This is a very narrow idea of soba.
Soba styles can vary just as much as ramen, pasta, or any other genre of noodle. Besides the obvious variations in temperature (hot/cold) or toppings (all kinds), the dipping sauce can be heavy on the shoyu and salt, as in the yabusoba style; the noodles can be made from refined buckwheat (sarashina soba), 100% buckwheat (juwari soba), or a ratio of 20% wheat to 80% buckwheat (ni-hachi soba); you can flavour the noodles with mugwort (mugi soba), seaweed (hegi soba), or green tea (cha soba). I could go on. Personal preferences play a huge part in deciding whether I like a soba restaurant or not. But the more soba I eat, the more my palate expands, along with ideas of what soba can be - which can only be a good thing.
Counter seats only at Suju Masayuki Raku. - image © Florentyna Leow
Suju Masayuki Raku in the basement of the Shin-Marunouchi Building serves soba that’s as far away from my own preferences as it gets.
Thick, rustic buckwheat noodles. - image © Florentyna Leow
Here, it’s all about “inaka soba” or “countryside-style soba.” As the name implies, this is rustic fare. The noodles here are thick and wide - not tagliatelle wide, but about 2.5 times the width of a typical soba noodle. (I didn’t whip out a measuring tape, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.) When served cold, they’re as chewy as all get out. I mean this in a good way. No one likes soggy noodles.
(Actually, I do know someone who likes soggy noodles, but they seem to be an outlier.)
Of course there’s an English menu! - image © Florentyna Leow
Their noodle bowls look like I could have plated it. They aren’t plated so much as assembled - which is just fine. Eating here isn’t about pretty food. The Marunouchi area is home to millions of office workers and zillions of digital dollars changing hands every day, and the point is to look busy even if you aren’t - so speed, volume, and taste are far bigger factors in picking a lunch spot.
What it looks like on arrival. Ultra-Instagrammable this is not. - image © Florentyna Leow
The soba topped with pork, vegetables, and boiled egg is self-explanatory. It nets you all that plus a veritable shower of sesame seeds and a fistful of shredded nori seaweed. The broth is cool rather than cold, but erring on the saltier side than sweet, with enough backbone to stand up to the chewy noodles – which I like. I don’t consciously factor in nutrition when I’m eating out, but if you’re looking for a reasonably balanced meal in a bowl, this ain’t a bad choice.
A bowl of tenkasu, or crispy tempura bits, for that extra crunch on your noodles. - image © Florentyna Leow
At Suju Masayuki Raku, the bowls are huge. The toppings hide a literal heap of noodles. I don’t mean huge even for relatively small people like me who max out at 5 feet nothing - this is objectively voluminous, and there’s a lot of noodle to slurp. Go hungry or go home.
They don’t go easy on the sesame seeds here - even the side dish gets a little sprinkle. - image © Florentyna Leow
Ordering a side dish is not a bad idea here. Like their bowls of soba, the side dishes are pretty tasty. Goma-ae kabocha, or Japanese squash tossed in sesame dressing, is a reliable choice. It’s sweet and salty, savoury and nutty, with all the texture and creaminess of butter-mashed potatoes but none of the cloying sickness that comes after eating too much of it. They also have cold buckwheat tea instead of iced water at the counter - super refreshing on a hot summer evening.
Not actually very busy at all. There’s no pressure to finish and leave when it’s a public holiday. - image © Florentyna Leow
The restaurant sees most traffic on weekdays. This makes sense, given that it’s in an office-dense area. If you’re casting around for a place to eat and can’t stand the thought of queuing at Tokyo Station’s Ramen Street, Suju Masayuki Raku is an entirely reasonable and - dare I say - better alternative. Come here for a quick, stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal.
You should be looking for somewhere that looks like this once you’re out of the subway. - image © Florentyna Leow
Directions: when coming out from the Marunouchi line, look for exit M6, which will lead you to the basement of the Shin-Marunouchi building. There is a floor map to refer to, but you can just walk straight (not up the escalators) and turn right. Suju Masayuki Raku is opposite a tea shop.
Suju Masayuki Raku
Name in Japanese:
酢重正之 楽 新丸の内ビル
1-5-1, Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 100-6590
〒100-6590 東京都千代田区丸の内1-5-1 新丸ビルB1
Weekdays: 11:00am - 11:00pm (10:30pm L.O)
Saturdays: 11:00am - 10:00pm (9:30pm L.O)
Sundays & Holidays: 11:00am - 9:30pm (9:00pm L.O)
Subway: 1-minute walk from exit M6 of Tokyo Station on the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line, 3-minute walk from Nijubashimae Station on the Chiyoda Line
JR: 2-minute walk from South Exit
:: Read customer reviews of Suju Masayuku Raku on TripAdvisor
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