The 3 Best Buckwheat Soba Noodle Brands in Japan
“Soba (蕎麦)” is a traditional Japanese noodle made of buckwheat that is also called “Nihon Soba (日本蕎麦: literally meaning Japan Soba)”.
While it is said that ramen has its roots in a noodle dish offered in the Chinatowns that were founded in Yokohama, Kobe, Nagasaki, Hakodate, and so on in the Meiji period (Meiji: 1868 to 1912), soba and udon have a much longer history than ramen.
Thus, there are many regions in Japan that are famous for their soba and udon noodles. Regarding udon noodles, as I wrote before, “Sanuki Udon (讃岐うどん)” and “Inaniwa Udon (稲庭うどん)” are the 2 local udon brands that are generally known as “Japan’s 3 Best Udon Noodles“.
Japan’s 3 Best Soba Noodles
As with udon, there are actually 3 regional buckwheat soba brands in Japan that are generally regarded as “Japan’s 3 Best Soba Noodles”, about which I will talk today.
Wanko Soba (わんこそば)
Source: Youtube “盛岡名物 「わんこそば」を食べよう！”
First off, “Wanko Soba (わんこそば)” is the buckwheat soba noodle known as a specialty of the city of Morioka, Iwate Prefecture. The most distinctive feature of Wanko Soba is its eating manner. As you can see in the video above, you never have an empty bowl while you are eating the noodles, because a waitress continues to add another to your bowl until you want to quit eating. This eating manner of soba noodles is one of a kind even in Japan.
Izumo Soba (出雲そば)
“Izumo Soba (出雲そば)” is the buckwheat noodle that is locally eaten in the Izumo region of the eastern part of Shimane Prefecture. Made of unhulled buckwheat flour, the noodle has a blackish color and is characterized by a strong aroma of buckwheat. In modern times many Izumo Soba products use buckwheat flours that were produced in other regions, but originally, Izumo Soba refers to the soba noodles made of the Izumo region’s local buckwheat.
Togakushi Soba (戸隠そば)
As its name indicates, “Togakushi Soba (戸隠そば)” is a specialty of the Togakushi region in Nagano Prefecture. The remote mountainous area known as the birthplace of Togakushi Soba, Togakushi is very popular as a spiritual place in Japan, and its buckwheat noodle is said to have its roots in a portable meal for the mountain ascetics. It is made of unhulled buckwheat flour and the dish is especially characterized by the arranging manner of soba noodles called “Bocchi Mori (ぼっち盛り)”, which you can see in the photo above.