Soba is one of Japan’s staple foods and its history could be traced back to the Edo period (1603-1868). Today, over millions of soba are slurped down every day at tachigui or standing shops all over Japan.
Soba has gained its popularity during the Edo period. It was believed that laborers from Shinshu (Nagano) and Koshu (Yamanashi) soba-rich-regions brought this deli to Edo. But, before tachigui-soba shops became popular in Japan, there was Kendon Sobaya.
This soba shop was very popular for providing basic services to the citizens of Edo. According to historical records, Kendon Sobaya was also called “ni hachi soba” or twenty eight soba. “Ni hachi soba” can be found in the background of the Ukiyo-e paining of Kendon Sobaya by artist Utagawa Toyokuni. There were two theories why Kendon Sobaya was called “ni hachi soba”. Some say that “ni hachi” could probably refer to the price of one bowl of soba, while others say that it is the amount of udon flour to soba flour (2/8).
Minimum service from the shop is the default setting of every tachigui-soba shop. Except for the preparation of the meal, tachigui-soba shop is self-service from the beginning to the end. Diners get their meal tickets (shokken) from vending machines as well as their own cold water from the dispenser. Upon handing the meal ticket to the staff, diners can ask him or her to customize their soba depending on the thickness of noodles they prefer. It is also a norm that diners clean their seat after eating their meal.
Besides the speed and convenience offered by tachigui-soba shops, the food they serve also tastes great. With the price of food ranging from 200 to 500 yen, any diner who visits a tachigui-soba shop is indeed getting more than what they paid for. The Japanese are very particular with the hardness of the noodles and sogginess is unacceptable. The soup must not be overly rich and quality ingredients must only be used for the toppings. Aside from the quality of food being served at a very affordable price, the soba itself is also a healthy diet choice because it is low in calories and high in fiber. Thus, you will not feel bloated after having this meal.
Reminder: for anyone who wants to try eating at any tachigui-soba shop, make sure that you clean your space immediately after gulping down that last drop of soup and saying gochiso sama (thanks for the meal) because it is rude to stay in the shop for a long time.
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