Yobuhan was one of the top 10 restaurants in Otaru voted by the local community. We verified that with the hotel receptionist who also highly rated this restaurant.
We arrived before noon and we were quickly shown to a tatami table at the back, the non-smoking section. Luckily, no waiting! We were the only non-Japanese customers.
Luckily, there was an English menu and one of the hostesses dressed in a beautiful kimono could speak a little English. We placed our ordered in a jiffy based on her helpful recommendations. The menu also explained the history and types of soba, the fact that the buckwheat flour they used came from their own collective farm, the right way to savor and slurp the soba etc. Very helpful for the un-initiated.
For each type of soba dish, you would see 2 prices for different types of noodle. One that was made with 100% Japanese buckwheat flour (more expensive) and one with half imported flour (lower price). We wanted to savor the authentic soba so went with the 100% local option.
Food started arriving in 20 minutes, first it was the tonkatsu don (deep fried pork culet rice bowl) for my toddler. He was a fan of rice bowls. Though not their restaurant specialty but it was still very tasty.
Then the star of the show. (1) Tempura cold soba was outstanding. Soba was the right chewiness. Soba sauce was a nice balance of sweet and savory. Tempura was fried to a perfect crisp. Batter was not overly heavy. (2) Soba in hot broth was very delicious. My husband totally drank it up! (3) The 5 dish cold soba. It came in a stack. When you un-stack it, voila! What a feast! One came with Otaru uni on grated yam, one with king crab leg meat, one with shrimp roe and dried fish flakes, one with local mushroom, one with radish shreds and seaweed. Yummy!
It was an unforgettable soba experience. For the rest of our 14 days Hokkaido trip, we tried soba at many different locations all over the island. Nothing even came close to Yabuhan. It truly set a standard for us!
I would highly recommend this place. Come early before meal time. When we finished our meal, the entrance of the restaurant was packed with close to 20 hungry patrons all waiting for a table!
There is 4 free parking right outside Yabuhan.