What is Udon/Soba?
Udon and soba are typical noodle dishes in Japan. Udon is made with flour and some salt. It is then kneaded and shaped like noodles. Soba, on the other hand, is made from powdered buckwheat, though in some areas, flour is also used. It is also kneaded and shaped like noodles.
History of Udon/Soba
The exact origin of udon is unknown and although there are several theories, the oldest one claims that udon came from China in the 700s. It became widely popular to the public during the Edo era in the 1600s. Much like udon, soba is also said to come from China in the 700s but did not gain popularity until the 1700s.
Kinds of Udon/Soba
Kanto style udon
Soup is mixed with Bonito dashi and strong soy sauce.
Kansai style udon
Soup is mixed with Konbu dashi and mild soy sauce.
Soup and soba are served together in a bowl.
Soba is served on a plate and the soup is served in a bowl. You then dip soba in the soup.
Soba and soup are served separately. This is to prevent the soup from becoming too thin should the soba’s water run.
Hot to eat like local
The Japanese eat udon and soba with chopsticks. In the west, it is usually considered bad manners to make noise when eating, but in Japan, most people slurp the noodles.
A lot of people use ginger on udon and wasabi on soba. Green onions, shiso, and spicy radish are also used as toppings.
In addition to the toppings, meat, vegetables, fish, fish paste, and tempura may be added in place of condiments. Udon is normally served at soba shops where one can often find “Soba curry udon”.
Where it is famous
It’s not an exaggeration to say that there are udon and soba restaurants all over Japan. The top three best places for udon are Sanuki Udon in Kagawa, Inaniwa Udon in Akita, and Gotou Udon in Nagasaki. Mizusawa Udon in Gunma, Himi Udon in Toyama, and Kishimen in Aichi are also popular udon choices. Meanwhile, Togakushi Soba in Nagano, Izumo Soba in Shimane, and Wanko Soba in Iwate are the go-to places for soba.