Despite finding the soba masters pulling at the handmade buckwheat noodles at the fishtank-like workspace in Shimbashi Soba fascinating, I've never actually dined at this soba specialist in the food basement of Paragon. Maybe it's because I've always thought of soba as a sidekick to the many dishes eaten at a Japanese restaurant, and not a main character central to a meal. But, it was one of those clean-eating days that we felt like a nutritious, hearty meal, that we stopped by for dinner.
We weren't impressed. For a soba specialist, Shimbashi isn't very fantastic at it. It's not to say that the soba here was awful; it was that the soba wasn't good enough. For a restaurant that claims to be a master at it. Little wonder, then, that Shimbashi Soba is under the same restaurant group that owns the mass-market, so-so casual Japanese restaurant chain Ichiban Boshi, so in spite of the glowing proclamations, it's best to tamper your expectations accordingly.
The execution of the Ebi Tempura ($19.80) was clunky, and the prawn wasn't sparkling fresh.
The Edamame ($5.80) required a little more time in the steamer, and a more liberal sprinkling of salt.
The Kashiwa Tsukemen Seiro ($19.80) comprised a sticky soba served chilled with a warm dipping broth of chicken, fried beancurd, vegetables, mushrooms and poached egg. The citrus-flavoured chilli paste seemed a little like a wallflower that no one noticed; it was a tad jarring to the salty broth.
The Tempura Seiro Soba ($21.30), chilled soba with assorted tempura, was pedestrian as well. But, I liked the vegetable tempura, they were the best part of this.
290 Orchard Road
Tel: 6735 9882
Open daily from 11.30am to 10pm