Ebisu: Izakaya
Hashian (Ebisu: Izakaya)
Open 11:30am-2:30, 5-10pm (LO) daily.
Sun: Open Sundays

"Soba, sake and wine" are the main draws of this stylish izakaya just up the hill from Ebisu station. On any night, the terrace, main room and smaller private function rooms are thronged with patrons, from nervous first-date couples to raucous older groups, from gaggles of fashionable young women to kind old gents treating their glamorous granddaughters to dinner. Reservations are required most nights.

While billed as a soba restaurant, there is a great choice of seasonal dishes and recommendations before the mains. On a recent visit, we had a great time trying the side dishes. Our host recommended the shungiku salad with sesame oil and it was quite a performance. A large bowl of chrysanthemum greens is brought over inside an even larger plastic bowl before being liberally drenched with fragrant steaming sesame oil. It sizzles and spits, hence the protective bowl. Surprisingly, it wasn't an overpowering or oily dressing when mixed with the pungent greens.

The deep-fried burdock roots are crunchy and sweet, accompanied with curry powder and mentaiko-mayo dip. The grilled anago (saltwater eel) is served with the backbone deep-fried too, a delightful crispy snack. The sashimi platter is really well presented and featured sweet shrimp, tender squid, fatty salmon and sea bream. Another surprise was the tuna sushi roll: fatty tuna rolled with mountain yam and wrapped in yuba (tofu skin). The dip was soy sauce and raw egg yolk, a rich and unusual choice.

The buckwheat soba here is made daily from freshly ground soba flour. It's served with karasumi (mullet roe), wasabi and shiso sprouts, and it's delicious. The noodles go well with the traditional pairing of duck, which here is rich and fatty, and served with seasonal-vegetable tempura and truffle salt.

The drink menu features various whisky and shochu cocktails, a reasonably priced selection of Japanese sake, and French and Italian wines.

Budget about Y1,200 for lunch, and between Y5,000-6,000 for dinner and drinks. No lunch on weekends.

by Richard Jeffery

Shibuya-ku, Ebisu-Minami 1-11-16.
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Venue listing from Bento.com4 Star Rating: recommended