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Monday, 23 March 2009

三朝庵@早稲田

Shokken稲田大学から早稲田通りに向かい南に降りていった馬場下町の交差点にある老舗蕎麦店が「三朝庵」です。失礼を承知で言えば、一見どこにでもある町の蕎麦屋とでも言いましょうか、あまり美味しそうなオーラを見せる店ではないのですが、こちらは江戸時代から続く老舗中の老舗で、かつてこの周辺には紀州徳川家の下屋敷があり、明治に入ってからは大隈重信により東京専門学校(現早稲田大学)が作られ、その間長年ずっと人気を保ち続けているというのは、それだけでもう立派なわけです。店の入り口脇には小さくかつ堂々と「元大隈家御用 元近衛騎兵連隊御用」との文字が掲げられています。

 店内は外からイメージするよりもかなり広々としており、整然と机がずらっと並べられています。昔からある人気の蕎麦屋はたいてい箱も大きく、どこか素っ気ないイメージです。こちらは入ってすぐ脇に食券を買う場所があります。昨今の券売機などという味気ないものではなく、人が対面式で売る食券。昔の食堂は皆そうでした。さすがに硬券ではありませんが、この食券売り場の雑然とした雰囲気は非常に懐かしくわくわくしてきます。しかし空いている時などは先に席に着くと注文を聞きに来てくれて、後からお金を払うこともあります。杓子定規じゃなく柔軟に対応してこそ接客業だということをあらためて感じます。

 窓側の席に座ると待っている間に読むための雑誌が置かれています。これはどこの飲食店にもある光景ではありますが、こちらには「文藝春秋」や「諸君」などが普通に置いてあるのです。間違っても漫画雑誌などではない。そこらへんがさすが学生街の蕎麦店とでもいいましょうか、どことなくカルチェ・ラタンのカフェをも想起させる雰囲気がたまりません。

Sanchoanm こちらで食べるのは「カレー南蛮(写真)」(780円)と昔から決まっています。そばとうどんが選べますがうどんで。つまりは「カレーうどん」ということになり、食券も「カレーうどん」と書かれたものを手渡されます。なぜ蕎麦屋なのにカレーうどんなのかと言えば、それは一説によるとこの三朝庵がカレーうどん発祥の店、と言われているからです。その年は明治37年と言いますから、今からもう百年以上も前の話です。日本のラーメン発祥の店と言われている浅草「來々軒」の創業が明治43年ですから、カレーうどんはラーメンよりも歴史が古い食べ物だということになります。数年前カレーラーメンがブームになった時に二大国民食のコラボレーションなどと話題になりましたが、明治時代のお蕎麦屋さんは百年以上も前にすでにそれをやっていたのですね。ちなみにこちらは「カツ丼発祥の店」とも言われていたりします。

 そんな三朝庵の元祖カレーうどんは、小さな丼になみなみとおつゆが入ったビジュアルにまずそそられます。しっかりと和出汁を感じさせ、まろやかな甘味もあり、ちょっとスパイシーな味わいのカレーつゆ。具は豚バラ肉に玉葱とシンプルです。うどんは昨今流行っている讃岐系のコシのあるものではなく、柔らかめに茹で上げられたうどん。しかしどっしりとした食感は非常に満足感があります。薬味の刻み葱が別添えになっているのが良いです。肉も玉葱もすべて褐色になってしまった丼に乗せられる真っ白い葱は、単調で飽きて来た頃にさっと入れることで見た目でも味でもいいアクセントになります。そしてこちらでは蕎麦湯も出て来ます。うどんですが蕎麦湯。これを最後に丼に注ぐことで、また違った味わいを楽しむことが出来るのです。

 歴史のある町に佇む老舗で味わう、これまた歴史のある逸品。他にも色々メニューがあるのですが、僕はいつでもカレーうどん。僕にとって三朝庵はカレーうどんを食べる店、なのです。

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Sanchoan■蕎麦:三朝庵
東京都新宿区馬場下町62
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