Soba, usually made from buckwheat flour, refers to any thin noodle – as opposed to thick wheat noodles, known as udon. Shin-soba, which is made with newly harvested buckwheat, tastes sweeter and is more flavorful than regular soba. Eating soba noodles harkens back to the Tokugawa era, when every neighborhood of Edo (Tokyo) had one or two soba establishments. Served either chilled with a dipping sauce or in hot broth as a noodle soup, soba is still quite popular at fast food venues and expensive specialty restaurants throughout Japan.
Make your way to the Tsukiji Soba Academy, located in central Tokyo’s Tsukiji district, site of the famous Tsukiji Fish Market. When you arrive at the school for your private class, meet your cooking instructor – either Akila Inouye, founder and master chef of the academy, or one of the academy’s graduates.
After a demonstration and soba-noodle tasting with the ‘sobatician,’ learn to prepare the soba by mixing and flattening the dough, made from buckwheat flour. You’ll cut the dough into 1.6-millimeter strips, considered the most important part of the process. These soba noodles will be cooked according to mazumizu, meaning ‘water first’ in Japanese, a practice that ensures each ingredient is cooked in its broth the optimal way to achieve the best textures and flavors.
At the end of your class, slurp up your bowl of noodles tachigui-style (literally translated as ‘stand and eat’) along with authentic dipping sauce – the best way to consume Japanese soba! Delight in the flavorful, seasonal ingredients as you enjoy your creation.