The major find on this trip to Oahu was Matsugen. We loved it so much that we went three times! Matsugen specializes in handmade soba – every morning the chef grinds the imported buckwheat into flour and then cuts each noodle by hand.
If you are allergic to buckwheat, don’t even think about going to Matsugen.
Interior of Matsugen – As you can see, Matsugen is a small restaurant with a chic, modern decor.
Our first meal at Matsugen was lunch. It was an absolute deal at $13.80.
We ordered the Natto Don Combo. You get a bowl of rice with a lightly poached egg, natto, green onions and nori, a salad, a huge plate of soba and a small bowl of pickles.
The soba noodles were served cold – they were firm, chewy with a slightly nutty flavor. Our waitress instructed us to add the wasabi and green onions to the soy sauce and dip our noodles in this sauce. We were the only non-Japanese diners at Matsugen, but the staff couldn’t have been nicer and definitely helped us negotiate the menu.
Close-up of the Natto Don – mixed.
After we finished our soba, the waitress then brought a small teapot filled with the water that the soba noodles were boiled in. You are instructed to add the soba water to the soy sauce mixture and drink it. This was a very satisfying way to end the meal and our waitress explained that it is also very healthy.
We loved our lunch so much and as it was within walking distance of our hotel (cabs are very, very expensive in Oahu), we returned for dinner a couple of days later.
Some of the menu
Tuna with Yama-kake (Japanese mountain potato) with egg, nori and green onion – the yama-kake was some of the best I have ever tasted – absolutely perfect.
Cold Soba noodles with nato, okra, green onions, wakame, shiso, bonito flakes and a soft poached egg – we mixed all the ingredients together and slurped like the rest of the customers. (By the third time, we were getting to be decent slurpers).
Tempura Mix – Good but not the equal of the soba
Beef Tongue – this was just perfect
I don’t have any photos from our last meal at Matsugen, but we added a hot soba dish the Soba Tamagotoji – essentially a kind of soft scrambled egg dish with soba noodles.
I absolutely recommend this restaurant highly – good value, nice staff and delicious food.