Literally “grilled noodles,” yakisoba is a classic Japanese dish of stir-fried noodles with meat and vegetables on a teppanyaki hot plate. Although “soba” generally refers to buckwheat noodles, this dish is made from ramen-style wheat noodles, also known as Chinese noodles or “chukamen.” Springy and chewy, these tasty pan-fried noodles are infused with typical yakisoba sauce that’s both sweet and savory (a thickened soy sauce, similar to oyster sauce and Worcestershire), garnished with pink pickled ginger, a sprinkle of aonori (seaweed flakes), a squiggle of mayonnaise, and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) wiggling in the heat.
A casual snack, yakisoba emerged as a street food in Japan during the early 20th century, and has since become a regular fast-food fare, often grilled with okonomiyaki at specialty restaurants. It’s sold around Japan as either a side dish or a light meal, typically available at festival food stalls, street food carts, and supermarkets, though it is also easily made at home with your favorite ingredients. When udon noodles are used, the dish is called yakiudon, a variation made popular in Fukuoka Prefecture. In Okinawa, yakisoba is often served with spam and sausages, influenced by the tastes of the U.S. military that is based there. Join one of our food tours to taste yakisoba during a street food tour, or learn how to grill it yourself during a yakisoba cooking class!