소노야 신논현역점 (Sonoya)
Reviewed by Aaron Namba on October 4, 2011
Tiny shop, high volume
I have only seen Sonoya inside subway stations, so I'm not sure whether they exist anywhere else, but it is the perfect location for these little shops. This one is located inside 신논현역 (Sinnonhyeon Station). The tiny interior seats only about a dozen people, but the turnaround is so fast that it hardly matters. Sonoya is open almost the entire time the subway is operating, so it's a great place to grab a bite before lunch hour begins or during the "break times" at other restaurants (around 2-5pm).
The first time I visited, I wondered why such a tiny shop would need so many employees (there are 4-5 people behind the tiny counter). In the two minutes it took them to prepare our order, that question rapidly left my mind. That was the first time I'd ever seen a hot meal made to order in such a short time.
Basically everything we've tried has been hearty, delicious and just about the right size (a little on the small side in some cases, but that can be attributed to Japanese-style eating), so I won't bother repeating that over and over. So, here are some of our favorites:
김치나베우동 (4900원) - Annie's cold day favorite
On cold days (and we have lots of those coming up), Annie likes to order the kimchi nabe udon. Over the door, it says Sonoya is a Japanese udon specialist, and so most of their dishes are either udon based (like this one) or come with a small bowl of udon on the side.
함박카레 (6500원) - Served with mini-sized udon
I like to get this hamburger curry over rice, which is served with a small udon on the side. At 6500원, this is one of the priciest items on the menu. Honestly, when it comes out, it doesn't seem like a lot of food, but it easily takes me from ravenous to pleasantly full.
회덮밥 (5500원) - Served with mini-sized udon
At a Japanese restaurant, one would expect this dish to be called sashimi donburi, but the menu calls it 회덮밥, and it is. The difference is mainly in the type of fish (sashimi tends to be very soft fish, whereas 회 is generally tougher and chewier) and variations in the other toppings and the sauce that goes with it.
Eat your 회덮밥 with 초고추장 on top and mix well
Here it is with the 초고추장 sauce, the recommended way of enjoying 회덮밥.
자루소바 (4500원) - Simple and delicious!
Back when it was hotter out, I ordered the zaru soba. (Then again, this tiny restaurant always seems to be hot regardless of the season, so it is probably okay to order this dish at any time of year.) Not as good as the one I had at Saboten, but still well worth the price.
- Food: 3/5 - Good quality meal and unbeatable price. We regret the times we passed by Sonoya before finally giving it a try.
- Service: 4/5 - There's not a lot in the way of service, since you order at the window, pick up your food, and bring the tray back, but the workers are speedy and very friendly.
- Atmosphere: 3/5 - Seating is against the walls, making it adequate for people eating alone or having a quick bite, but not for those who want to take their time or have a conversation.