One of the specialties of Nikko is yuba, or tofu skin, the product that has been skimmed off the top of boiling soy milk and set out to dry. When the signboard outside of Honke Yamabiko Restaurant advertised a yuba lunch set, I was intrigued enough to pop inside and give it a try.
Sadly, as I discovered in multiple establishments in Nikko, the preparation of a yuba set takes some time and as I hadn't pre-ordered, I would have to do without. A bit disappointed but quite hungry nonetheless, I decided to stay and try out one of the restaurant's other options.
Luckily, I wasn't let down. I chose the hot soba lunch set with yuba skin and was treated to a steaming bowl of soba noodles in a hearty broth. Chunks of sweet tofu skin and pungent green onions helped to round out the flavor, though due to my significant appetite, I could have done with a few more noodles. The set also included a dish of rice peppered with mushrooms and a few herbs, as well as pickles and miso soup. If you enjoy the pickles, they're for sale in the shop that fronts the dining hall. (You can also pick up various non-perishable Nikko treats there too, such as cookies and rice crackers.) Should you require a tad more sustenance, as I did, you can order steamed meat buns or gyoza to accompany the main meal.
Honke Yamabiko is very conveniently situated on the road that runs straight up to the entrance to the Futarasan Shrine. The mausoleum's of both Tokugawa Ieyasu and Tokugawa Iemitsu are just a few meters beyond that, in separate directions. Yamabiko is used to catering to large groups, so you'll find ample seating in the dining area. Diners have their choice of regular tables or tatami mat seating. In winter, be aware that the door to the main shop out front often remains open to encourage customers to stop by, and this can bring quite a chill into the restaurant. A small heater was running while I was there, but it didn't doo much to dispel the draft.