This long-established Chinese restaurant in Jinbocho is known as the birthplace of hiyashi chuka in Japan. We recommend that you order the year-round classic ‘Gomoku Hiyashi Soba’ (¥1,510), where the chilled soba noodles are piled high and surrounded with four toppings to emulate the silhouette of Mt Fuji.
We were told that each sliced ingredient represents one of the four seasons: roasted pork, cucumbers, bamboo shoots and agar-agar. Which ingredient for which season, you ask? Well, your guess is as good as ours.
To create the mountain's snow-covered peak, the dish is topped with sliced egg. But that’s not all: there’s also shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, quail’s eggs and chicken meatballs. The dish is finished with a slightly sweet sauce, but you can adjust the taste to your preferences by adding vinegar or mustard, placed on every table.
Yurakucho’s salarymen find shelter from Japan’s sweltering summer heat at this popular Chinese restaurant. Their bestseller is the ‘Goma Dare Reimen’ (¥1,230), cold noodles seasoned with sesame dressing. The sauce combines its slight sour taste with the mild flavour of the sesame, and it coats the firm yet super-fine noodles perfectly. The dish is topped with shrimp and crab, and also comes with sliced roast pork.
Yajima is located within the grounds of Tsukiji market, and its cold noodle dish (¥900) is based on a special sauce – the recipe of which hasn’t changed in the past 60 years. The bright yet mild flavour of the sauce makes this and appetising dish, and it's served with shredded seaweed, tender sliced pork and omelette. It’s been a crowd favourite for decades. For big eaters, order a side of the handmade shumai (two for ¥300), which go very well with the chilled noodles.
While the typical cold ramen is embellished with thinly shredded egg, rule-breaking Ryuhou uses wide strips for its hiyashi chuka (¥850). The fat eggy strips don't overpowers the dish as the noodles themselves are pretty thick as well – the chunkiness of it all makes for a delicious mouthful. If you're with a group and willing to share, opt for Ryuhou’s fried rice (¥770) to bulk up even more: the crowd pleaser is made with thick-sliced chashu pork and comes with a side of seafood-based soup.
A popular restaurant in Mitaka, Chuka Soba Mitaka serves a simple but addictive hiyashi chuka (¥550) with bamboo shoots, cucumbers and to top it off, a single slice of ham. What makes this dish special is the noodles: their ramen-like thickness have a texture that resembles soba, and they go so well with the strong shoyu-based broth. A pint of beer, a bowl of hiyashi chuka – we'd argue that comes close to the perfect summer afternoon.
In business since 1929, this chuka (Chinese-style) restaurant has been a local favourite for close to a century. They also do hiyashi chuka all year long here. Manpuku's rich sesame seasoning and banbanji chicken make for a memorable bowl, and even if you finish eating the noodles first, the chicken alone goes well with beer. In summer, try their limited-edition hiyashi soba.
The key to the popularity of this long-running Chinese cafeteria in Ikejiri-Ohashi is its delicious fried rice, but in summer, it's the Hiyashi Negi Soba (¥950) that takes the crown. It comes covered with a massive amount of scallions, and the restaurant's regular patrons have said that they can’t survive summer without this dish. The light and refreshing scallions provide both textural and flavour contrast with the texture of the noodles and the sesame broth. Simple, but it works.
Chuka Soba Fukumori's 'Spicy Niboshi Hiyashi Chuka' (¥880) is perfect for sardine-based ramen lovers. Their relatively light soup extracts the robust umami flavours from the fish, and brightened with a hint of vinegar. With plenty of toppings and spicy scallion sauce scattered on top of the thick homemade noodles, you can adjust the taste as you eat.
While Shichisai is famous for its freshly-made thick and rough ramen noodles, the hiyashi chuka (¥970) features thin noodles instead. And it's an unconventional take on the classic cold ramen: the noodles are dressed in a tomato-based broth. The summer-only hiyashi chuka comes topped with thinly cut cucumber and daikon, a sprinkling of shiso and rare char siu pork.
Besides its regular tsukemen, Isoji’s homemade hiyashi chuka (¥940, large portion ¥1,040) is rather unique. The noodles are topped with bits of the frozen fish broth to not just keep the dish cold for as long as possible, but also to offset the sweetness of the sesame sauce. For toppings, expect summer vegetables such as shiso, tomatoes and baby corn.