Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Gaijin Gourmet! Great Soba Deal in Dai-Mon on Oedo Subway Line

In another installment of "Great places to eat in Tokyo for Super-Cheap" by me, Mike Rogers, connoisseur extraordinaire and one of Japan's top cheap-skate Gaijin experts on good tachi-gui (stand up and eat) soba shops, I'd like to introduce you to a shop named Rikka near Dai-Mon Station on the Oedo Line (Exit A4).

First off, be forewarned, after you exit the station, if you ask a local, "Where is Rikka?" They won't know. Because even Japanese people cannot read this name. In kanji it is 六花, which looks like it says, "Rokka" (six flowers)... But it says "Rikka." Why is it read this way? Heck, don't ask me! It just is. Lots of Japanese kanji are read in various and incomprehensible ways.

Do not question the ways of my people!

But, once you've traveled, endured and finally found this place, you'll be glad you did. It might be one of the best-kept secrets in the area!

I've walked by Rikka a few times at lunch hours and have seen a dozen or so businessmen lined up to get in. That's a good sign for decent food for a great price. 

When I saw the line of guys, I knew I had to try it. I mean, I had to try eating the soba, not the lining up part (been there, done that). Yesterday, I got my chance to go into the restaurant and try it out when it wasn't crowded.

Being a fair and wise connoisseur of fine cheap dining, I always want to compare the basic soba set. At Rikka, I ordered shrimp tempura soba. 

Shrimp, mushrooms and pumpkin tempura with
cold soba noodles (omori) for ¥550 (about $6.50 US)

When I placed my order, the cook said, "We are having the extra helping service now (omori). Would you like extra noodles for free?" 

"Wow!" I thought, "Sure! I answered." And they gave me the extra helping of noodles that usually would cost an extra ¥100 ~ ¥150 at most shops. I then asked the guy what time the extra helping service was from and he answered, "We are open from 7 am until 7 pm."

"Oh, no" I replied, "I didn't mean 'what are your business hours,' I meant, 'what time is the free extra helping of noodles service." To that the man smiled and said, "Everyday. From 7 am until 7 pm!"

Wow! What a great deal! I know that running these restaurants in this day and age in Japan is a tough business and it's hard to survive. Businesses have to do lots of extra things to get customers, but this is the first time I have ever heard of the extra helping of noodles (omori) service during all business hours!  

All sorts of soba sets that include a rice "donburi" dish 
(donburi is rice with meat, fish and vegetables on top). 
They are slashing the prices! Check that out!
A full healthy lunch for ¥390!? A Big Mac set costs ¥550! 
(Where can you buy a full meal for $4.66 US?)
This place is a great deal! These prices aren't lunch specials, 
they are available during all business hours!

I really do like these cheap but delicious soba shops. They are so cheap so I don't expect much, so when I bite into it and think, "This might be better than what I make at home!" Then I'm really happy with it. Rikka was delicious and for ¥500 it can't be beat.

Also Rikka passes the "Mike Rogers immaculate kitchen test" 
for cleanliness. The kitchen is open for you to see 
when you walk in the shop and it is spotless.

Most guys wouldn't take their girlfriend on a date to one of these stand up soba shops, but Rikka and Takamoto Seimenjyo are so delicious that she might forgive you for taking her to a place that doesn't have the atmosphere of fine dining but has great food... Heck, if you are married and on a budget and want to eat out, I wouldn't have trouble taking the wife there... By the way, Rikka does have seats too!

I highly recommend that, if you are in the area, that you try out Rikka. If you do, you'll be quite pleasantly surprised at the quality, taste and price. Try it and see for yourself. 

To get to Rikka, take the Oedo Line to Dai-Mon Station (Exit A4). Exit the station, turn left and walk up the street. About 350 meters.

Minatoku Shiba Oo Mon 1-3-6
Tel: 03-3433-6058
Business hours: 7 am ~ 7 pm Mon. - Fri.
Closed Sat. Sun. and holidays


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