Kamakura Matsubara-an is one of the more highly regarded restaurants in Kamakura. They also have a sister restaurant in the Harajuku neighborhood of Tokyo.
The restaurant specializes in soba noodles, which are handmade daily. They are also known for their duck preparations as well dashimaki tamago.
The restaurant sits in a residential neighborhood and is on the smaller side. Upon entering the restaurant grounds, there is a small Zen garden surrounded by outdoor tables. As I did not sit in, or get a very good look at the interior, I cannot provide any comments. It does appear to be on the smaller side however.
At lunch, there are set menus, in addition to ordering from the menu.
I chose the Matsubara course, as I wanted to try as many dishes as possible.
The appetizer course consisted of sashimi, vegetables, fried eggplant, fried soba, duck, tofu and edamame, and a fried rice cake.
The appetizers were beautifully and simply presented. The fried rice cake reminded me of savory mochi, as the exterior was nice and crisp, while the interior was nice and chewy. Instead of dipping it into kinako and sugar, this was sitting in a mild fish and shoyu sauce. The tofu was very soft and tender with a strong yet subtle soybean flavor. The duck breast was nicely medium rare with a slightly gamey flavor. The fried soba skin was very crisp with a slightly nutty flavor with a slightly salty miso paste. The eggplant was nice fried and not greasy. It had a nice strong eggplant flavor. The sashimi was marinated and sat atop a couple of potato slices and paired with a tomato and snap pea. Lastly, there was fried eel sitting atop a small salad. The eel had a crisp skin, and was rather mild in flavor.
The next course was thickly sliced duck. The duck had plenty of seasoning, and reminded me of roasted port when first presented. The duck was slightly overcooked and a bit on the dry side. The seasoning added a punch of flavor while the lemon added brightness and acidity.
The next course was the soba course. I chose the kake soba which is served in a hot soup. The soba noodles had a nice nuttiness and chew.
The soba was served with shaved green onion, freshly grated wasabi, and soy and mirin base. The soup was served in a separate kettle, which is flavored with bonito.
The next course was the tempura course, which consisted of shiso leaves, octopus, fish, squid, and shrimp. I paid the small upchare for the seafood tempura.
Unlike the United States which serves tempura with a soy based sauce, tempura is paired with coarse salt in Japan.
Dessert consisted of a jelly made out of agar and was topped with azuki beans in a slightly sweet syrup.
Service was very good and attentive, as you would expect in Japan. The staff spoke decent English, much better than my Japanese, LOL.
Little things have been thought of as well, such as blankets at each seat to cover your legs in case you get cold. Little baskets are provided to store your purse or belongings.
Dining outside overlooking the Zen garden also made it a more peaceful and tranquil experience. I would highly recommend this restaurant when in Kamakura.