Hachibunme is owned by Jackpot, a catering company I mentioned before in the posts about "Tom's Kitchen" and "La Befana", managing about 15 restaurants in Tokyo, mostly in Shimokitazawa. You will recognize its restaurants by the wooden board outside saying "やってます" (We're open). Except for an improbable exception, you are almost guaranteed great service and good cost performance if you ever visit one of their businesses.
Hachibunme's manager since the opening is Shoji-San, an always smily, happy-going man who's always 120% about what he does, mainly trying to make you feel as welcome as possible. He is a football aficionado who will be very happy if you start talking about the Beautiful Game in general and probably stoked if you mention the Joga Bonito.
Hachibunme's characteristic resides in the fact that although they're a pretty basic Izakaya (Japanese style food serving pub), they have a very decent wheat-flour noodle Udon menu to choose from. I suggest that whenever you visit them, you leave yourself a little space for a bowl of noodle at the end. By the way Hachibunme means 80%, and is often used as part of the very wise expression ~Hara-Hachibunme (eat until you're 80% full)~ .
On our last visit, we started by ordering the "Taberu Rayu" (the "solid" Chinese-style chili infused vegetable oil), a condiment that has been one of the biggest food hits nationwide in 2010. This seasoning or appetizer (depending on what you want to do with it) is Rayu mixed with chopped garlic and crushed almonds. You can add that on pretty much anything, tofu, rice, noodles for an easy Chinese Sichuan-style dish. We just nibbled on it with our beers, though I do not recommend it for non Japanese beers. We had Bass Pale Ale and it did NOT go well with the it. "Saltier" Japanese beers should be good.
Next came our favorite Okinawa dish "Goya Champuru" (stirred bitter Gourd). Goya is a vegetable indigenous to the sub-tropical southern islands of Okinawa and is known for its very bitter taste and crunchy texture. The Okinawa people cook the gourd by saute it with tofu, pork, scrambled eggs before topping generous amounts of KatsuoBushi (dry Bonito shavings) and it's always a great recipe difficult to screw up. The one in Hachibunme is slightly salty but plentily satisfying.
Before attacking the noodles, we had the tasty calorie bomb "Sasami no Cheese Age Wasabi-Iri" (deep-fried chicken breast with cheese and wasabi). As you can see from the picture, it's big pieces of juicy white chicken breast meat stuffed with cheese and chopped fresh wasabi leaves, battered and then deep-fried. The cheese gets to you completely melted, and the combination with the batter is a complete sin. The cuts are relatively lower on salt than what you might expect or imagine so feel free to add a little salt that's served on the side of the dish.
My last dish was a large serving of nice KamaAge Udon, wholewheat noodles served in a hotpot with steaming hot water and hot Tsuyu dipping sauce. The noodles are served in a traditional large wooden box from which you help yourself, before dipping them in the dark brown Tsuyu broth in which you can add chopped leek or grated ginger to your likings.
As per the below movie, the noodles come to you quite hot and it's a pleasure to see the steam coming out of the miniature Hinoki bathtub like box. However, the hot water keeps on cooking the noodles so just quickly devour them, as they lose their Koshi (firmness) fast. Be cautious when helping yourself, as the Udon are slippery and you might splash everyone at your table when they escape from your chopsticks.Those four mains and a couple of British beers cost us ¥4,580 so it's quite nice at little over ¥2,000 per head, isn't it?
My wife had a really good bowl of GomaKara Reimen (cold noodles in a sesame and chili sauce), which is definitely an option if you want something more chewy and less Japanese than the Udon. The slightly spicy sauce is a Korean style one which you will probably like if you're into that cuisine. The cold noodles are VERY al dente so if you ever order them, you are on for an extensive jaw exercise.
The restaurant is pretty big and even has a large tatami room at the back so they can handle quite some people. Even if they are full when you get there, which might happen sometimes as they're pretty popular, you shouldn't have to wait too long.
Hachibunme is open everyday from 17:00pm to midnight (L.O. at 23:00pm) and start from 16:00pm on Sundays and National holidays
03-3467-7412 ( or free dial 0066-9673-28949 for reservations only)
Setagaya-ku, Kitazawa 2-4-10
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