Japan has a special food culture. There are several unique dishes, including many types of noodles. One popular type of noodle which dates back to the Jomon Period is “soba.” The Jomon period was a prehistoric time in the history of Japan. However, soba became a more important part of Japanese culture during the Edo period. Since then, many ways of enjoying this noodle have emerged.
A traditional dish which also came about during the Edo Period is called, “Toshikoshi soba.” This is a dish mainly eaten on New Year’s Eve although customs may vary in different areas.
There are, primarily, two meanings behind eating Toshikoshi soba at New Year’s Eve. Soba noodles are very long which is said to symbolize long life. They also cut very easily when eaten and this means that those eating it can let go of the past year’s hardships.
You should probably know the names of some of the soba dishes first before choosing your favorite. The presentation of each soba dish depends on the season. Some are served chilled, especially during summer while others are served hot primarily in winter.
Cold Soba Noodles
- Mori soba – chilled soba noodles served on a plate or basket.
- Zaru soba – served as Mori soba but with shredded nori sprinkled on top.
- Furikake soba – soba sprinkled with seasoning.
- Soba Maki – similar to what many think sushi rolls may look like, this is soba wrapped in nori.
Hot Soba Noodles
- Kake soba – hot soba served in a bowl of broth with green onion slices.
- Kitsune soba (Kanto) and Tanuki soba (Kansai) – hot soba with fried tofu.
- Tempura soba – soba served with tempura on top.
- Tsukimi soba – this soba comes with a raw egg that cooks in the broth.
- Tororo soba and Wakame soba – soba topped with tororo (a Japanese potato puree) and seaweed, respectively.
In addition to these dishes, there are also several varieties of soba that are unique to certain areas of Japan. One example of a famous type of soba dish is Shinano soba.
Shinano soba is one of the most popular soba varieties. It comes from Nagano prefecture, which has a highland area that is good for the growth of buckwheat. In Nagano, there are so many good stores that sell soba in the area that some people line up for this tasty stuff!