Buzjenbo – Udon for every day of the week

By Ben Davis

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As one of my more recent discoveries, Buzjenbo has turned me into an udon-lover. The Higashiyama restaurant’s warm, casual atmosphere is a refreshing change from stark noodle bars and overly-formal establishments, providing the perfect setting to enjoy the masterful udon that Kazuaki Sato has been fine-tuning for almost two decades.

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Tucked away on a street corner just off Yamate-Dori, Buzjenbo opened in the late 1990s at a time when there was only a handful of shops in the area and locals would often wonder what kind of restaurant it actually was. These days the udon restaurant has become ingrained in the local community. Regular customers range from newborns to octogenarians, friends’ zines and favourite publications line the white-tiled counter and well-stocked bookcase, and families stop by to share a quiet meal. Kazuaki has spent years developing the kind of udon that can be eaten – both happily and healthy – on a daily basis. The smooth Okayama-made noodles and lightly balanced dashi are at the heart of a menu that features udon ranging from the classic ‘Tsukimi’ to the sweet and spicy ‘Pirikawa Niku’ (with wagyu beef) and the ever-popular ‘Buzjenbo’.

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Strangely enough, one of my favourite parts of dining at Buzjenbo is the wait, which hovers at around 14 minutes as Kazuaki takes each order from start to finish. While undoubtedly adding a touch of anticipation, it also proves to be just enough time to sample the famous dashimaki-tamago or a nip of nihonshu. Arriving on a shiny black tray and served in an arita-yaki bowl, it often seems as though the painted flowers are dancing joyfully around the rim of the steaming bowl. As the mainstay of the menu, the ‘Buzjenbo’ features satsuma-age (fish cake) and kyo-age (deep fried tofu) topped with a soft green bundle of shredded konbu that slowly drifts into the dashi, gradually turning it the most delicious and syrupy of soups. It’s a brilliant combination and one that you’ll want to appreciate from the first slurp to the final drop.

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Completing your bowl of udon is a most fulfilling moment, after which you can opt for an almond pudding or affogato, or even head off into the streets of Higashiyama, which have welcomed a peppering of small shops and eateries in recent years. And for those who fancy a generous post-meal stroll, following the river up to Meguro Sky Garden is the perfect way to head back to Ikejiri-Ohashi station.

-Where: 1-11-15 Higashiyama, Meguro
-When: Tue-Sat 11:45-14:30, 18:00-23:00; Sun, 18:00-23:00*
-Website: http://www.buzjenbo.com

*Closed on the fourth Sunday of the month




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About Columnist

Ben Davis
Editor of Thousands Tokyo

Ben is an editor, consultant and photographer who has been based in Tokyo since 2010. Following a stint with local farmers in the Japanese countryside, he now works as Editor of Thousands Tokyo, which sees him happily spend most days (and nights) exploring the world’s biggest city from the ground up.