Finally! We have freshly made soba noodles in Boston!
I've been wanting to try Sugidama Soba & Izakaya in Somerville ever since I heard of its opening in 2016. I'm a huge fan of soba, the Japanese noodle made out of buckwheat. I tasted a fresh, handmade version for the first time in New York at Soba Koh and fell in love with its nutty flavor and chewy texture. I had it several more times in Japan, and continued to long for the day when freshly made soba would be available in Boston.
Sugidama fulfills that need, and even more.
Not only can you order their fresh soba noodles (and you must, that is their specialty!), you can also sample a variety of fun small plates to round out the meal. The term izakaya refers to a Japanese drinking establishment (like an American tavern or British pub) that also serves a wide variety of food to go along with the drinks.
Izakayas tend to have a broad menu spanning many different types of Japanese food. We sampled only a small subset of the entire menu, though we tried to order from different parts of the menu.
The Appetizer portion of the menu includes an eclectic mix of small plates, including deep fried seafood, tempura, various types of dumplings, tofu and vegetables, popular street snacks, and even a grilled yellowtail collar. We tried the Idako Karaage ($7), or fried baby octopus, which was very good.
We also tried the Takoyaki ($6) or grilled octopus balls, which are a popular street snack in Japan. I was thrilled to be able to get them here. These are best eaten hot.
There is a sizeable Yakitori (grilled) section on the menu with many different classic items available, all for between $3 and $8 an order (most between $3 and $5). The menu includes beef, chicken, Berkshire pork, seafood, and vegetable options. Examples of grill items include classics like tsukune (chicken meatball, $3.50), negi pon (Berkshire pork belly with scallions and ponzu sauce), and shishito peppers.
We tried the Ika Yaki ($8) or whole grilled squid, which was excellent. I would highly recommend this one!
We hadn't planned to get this next appetizer at all, but then we saw it on another table and inquired about it.
Dragon Ball ($12) is an avocado ball filled with tuna, mango, cucumber, crunch and seaweed salad. Roe on top completes the dish. This is a crowd-pleaser kind of dish that's not particularly authentic, but is more like those fusion maki rolls you see in the States.
Other sections of the menu nclude a small Tempura section, a medium-sized Donburi section, and a huge Sushi section. We didn't go for any of that this time. Instead, we zoomed straight to the Soba section.
I ordered a Sansai ($13.50) a cold soba tossed with "mountain vegetables." When I inquired about the mountain vegetables, they actually brought me a small dish of the mountain vegetable mixture for me to try. What great service! I really liked the flavors so I went ahead and ordered it.
If you really enjoy the chewy QQ texture of noodles, I would recommend choosing a cold soba dish over a hot one. The hot ones warm the soul, but the hot soup does soften the noodles a bit.
I loved my dish. The fresh soba texture was great, and I really enjoyed the light and clean flavors from the mountain vegetables. Everyone at the table concurred that my soba dish was the favorite. I would totally order this again.
For dessert, we ordered a limited time special, a matcha flavored Mont Blanc dessert. It was a cake covered with a matcha flavored cream. To be honest, it was pretty underwhelming and I'd skip it next time.
All in all, though, I was really pleased with our meal at Sugidama Soba & Izakaya. The soba was fantastic, the appetizers were very good, and the prices are super reasonable. It's the perfect type of neighborhood place to adopt as a regular spot.
The place is super popular and you may have to wait if you show up at peak times. Showing up early always helps. We showed up before 6PM on a weekend and had no trouble getting a table. Accordingly to my friends who are regulars there, it's usually pretty easy to get a table on Sundays during lunch.
Sugidama's in Davis Square, so parking can be tricky. The restaurant does have a limited number of parking spaces at the 55 Day Street parking lot (see staff to obtain a parking pass). The restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner seven days a week.
Sugidama Soba & Izakaya
260 Elm Street Suite 106
Somerville, MA 02144