On Saturday we went to Matsumoto, Nagano, which is famed for its soba noodles. I love soba noodles – they’re made from buckwheat flour and can be served hot or cold, which makes them a very versatile food that can be enjoyed in both winter and summer. (I actually haven’t ever had hot soba – only cold! It’s a great summer food.) I also love soba tea (called soba cha) – it’s a wonderfully warm, nutty tea to drink on a cold winter day.
We went to Asada, a soba restaurant in Matsumoto. A note to those travelling in Japan – the Japanese tend to eat meals later, and a lot of good specialty restaurants are very small with limited seating, so a good time to avoid crowds is to eat between 11:00am and 12:00pm or 5:00pm and 6:30pm. (My kids were stunned when they heard that Paul and I like to eat dinner between 5 and 6. Some of them don’t eat until 9 at night!)
We arrived around 12:30 and waited outside for about 10 minutes. We got lucky and got a nice table, rather than the tatami room where you have to sit on the floor.
Like most traditional Japanese restaurants, we were served tea first. I can’t seem to figure out how they make such light, tasty green tea – any time I try to make it, it turns out bitter!
I decided to get the most basic soba on the menu, which was also the cheapest at only 900円 (around $8.16). First they brought out a tray with the sauce condiments: soy sauce, green onions, grated daikon (Japanese radish), and a tiny dab of wasabi. I poured the soy sauce into the cup and mixed in all the green onions, all the daikon, and just a touch of wasabi.
The noodles came out on a basket-plate. We ate by dipping the noodles into the cup of sauce.
While we ate, the waitress brought over an interesting red teapot. Inside of it was the water the soba noodles had been boiled in. When we finished our noodles, we had a lot of sauce left over; we poured the soba water into our cups and drank the warm, salty broth. It was so good!
(Thank you Katie, for being a lovely hand model!)
I love soba because, besides being delicious, it’s light on the stomach, and cold noodles are perfect for a hot summer day.
I’m also really excited – our friend Yusuke, who drove us to Matsumoto, told us that his father likes to make soba noodles from scratch! It sounds like next month we’ll be able to go see him and learn how to make soba noodles for ourselves. I’m psyched!
I shall finish up with a Cute Paul tax:
And a Peculiar Jansen tax:
Until next time! またね！
If you happen to be in Nagano and want to check out Asada, check them out on their tabelog for their information.