As buckwheat flour is rich in vitamin B, soba noodles are not only tasty but are also known for containing a bounty of health benefits. Originating from China, soba supposedly came to Japan during the ancient Jomon period and is now a typical Japanese dish of either white or greyish-green soba noodles. Simple, filling, and healthy, this versatile noodle is eaten as cold zaru-soba with fresh condiments and a dipping sauce or as kake-soba served in a bowl of hot broth. Salarymen devour soba in standing restaurants on station platforms, chefs throughout Japan carefully prepare artisanal te-uchi-soba handmade noodles, and since the Edo period, it’s become a Japanese tradition to eat soba on New Year’s Eve.
To make soba by hand using traditional tools is a meditative process, from mixing and rolling the fragrant dough, to cutting the noodles with precision. Especially delicious when served with local vegetables, fresh soba makes for a wholesome meal, a specialty that’s likely found in mountainous or regional areas such as Hakone, incorporating fresh produce and high-quality local water. Soba noodles can be made with matcha green tea in Uji or eaten ramen-style in Okinawa; evidently different prefectures flaunt their own version of local soba. A traditional dish deeply rooted in Japanese culture, learn how to make soba noodles from scratch at a cooking class, or eat an authentic soba lunch during a unique food tour.