33 Nando-Machi, Shinjuku-ku; 011-81-3-5261-8381
Recently, myself and friends checked out Shimahei, now semi-famous due to the mention in the NY Times article in May. This place is sort of tough to find, but its worth getting a google map in Japanese or calling and having someone take down directions to give a cab driver.
Shimahei is no less than a soba school. The noodles are fantastic and cooked to perfection, but thats only the core. What makes Shimahei so great is the creativity used to interpret the basic soba ingredients.
We ordered the prix fixe (omakase) and the incredibly friendly owner/chef took great care of us. The omakase at Shimahei is only 4400 yen, which is an excellent deal for a 7-course tasting menu in Tokyo.
The dinner began with cold soba soup, which was so good its hard to believe the recipe isn't featured in kitchens from NY to Los Angeles. This was actually one of my favorite parts of the meal; it was creamy, soothing, slightly tangy and oh so soba. This was followed by soba sushi (noodles instead of rice), soba dumplings served sashimi style, soba crepes and a few others I can't even remember. The entire meal was balanced, fresh, light and deeply satisfying. The expression of the pure, simple ingredients demonstrated a remarkable skill and palate.
By the time the plate of soba noodles game, followed by a hot soba-broth soup with a touch of yuzo, we were barely able to move. Everything was spot on and the atmosphere in the tiny bar is charming. I will be back many times. Entrees are availible for between $7 and $10 and the omakase (chef's choice) runs about $37 US.
A few notes, though. The restaurant is tough to spot from the outside and the name is written in Japanese, so having an address and map may not even be enough. Asking the locals is helpful, but the restaurant (not far from Ichigaya station) may still be tough to find. Persevere and you will be rewarded. Also, the place closes on the early side and seems to run out of food often enough, so you may not be able to eat if you don't call ahead. Since the restaurant is tiny, there may not be room either. Make sure to get a reservation.