Mention Shimbashi and most people think of Tokyo’s major interchange railway station. For me, Shimbashi brings delicious connotations of Buckwheat Soba Noodles.
Shimbashi Soba is one of the leading restaurants in the world that makes it's buckwheat noodles on site. The Soba Master Yoshi Shibazaki (one of 50 Soba Masters in the world) started his first restaurant in Neutral Bay, Sydney (which was the first Soba Noodle to open in the Southern Hemisphere) and I recall with decadent pleasure dunking the long thin noodle strands into the special dipping sauce and slurping those noodles with absolute gluttonous excitement.
Unfortunately for us Sydney-siders the original Neutral Bay restaurant closed when Yoshi took his mastery back home to Japan where he now presides over 9 Soba restaurants across Japan, Singapore and Australia. Yes, Yoshi has returned (in part) to Neutral Bay. A Yoshi produced and inspired restaurant has re-opened in Neutral Bay (much to this writer’s joy).
If you haven’t had the opportunity to try Soba Noodles and are intrigued with the dish, it's best described as buckwheat noodles that can be eaten chilled and dipped with an accompanying soy based sauce (Tsuyu) or warm in a broth like soup.
What sets soba noodles apart is the traditional method used to make these thin and long noodle strands. Fresh buckwheat seeds are milled into flour and skillfully shaped by the Soba master into strands of thin noodles.
Buckwheat is high in fibre, protein and antioxidants and it’s the perfect meal for dieters – being very low in fat and calories.
The dish is traditionally served on a zaru or bamboo tray and comes with a separate bowl containing the dipping sauce usually a seafood based (bonito) or dashi broth with soy sauce, sugar and mirin. Side bowls containing Japanese condiments of wasabi, leeks and seaweed (nori) create the Zaru Soba masterpiece.
Until my next visit to Shinbashi for my traditional Zaru Soba, I will, in the interim, pay homage to Master Yoshi by creating my own little version of the dish. I used Hakubaku Organic Soba Noodles (dried organic soba noodles) in this recipe.
Dipping Sauce 1 teaspoon of bonito soup stock powder
6 teaspoons of mirin
50ml cup of soy sauce
Condiments 1 teaspoon of wasabi paste
1 teaspoon of leeks
1 teaspoon of pickled ginger
1 tablespoon of shredded nori (seaweed)
Pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
Bring a pot of water to a rapid boil.
Add the soba noodles to the boiling water.
Add noodles to rapid boiling water.
Cook for 3-4 minutes only.
Cook noodles for 3-4 minutes only.
Remove from heat and drain.
Rinse noodles with cold water.
Rinse and drain noodles.
Add ice-cubes to help chill the noodles and continue running cold water over the noodles to ensure they are cold.
Add ice-cubes to help chill noodles.
Drain and set aside to make the dipping sauce
Dipping Sauce I’ve used the traditional base ingredients for my dipping sauce (Tsuyu) but added some chilli flakes to ignite the flavours further.
Combine the soy sauce, chilli flakes, bonito stock powder and mirin and mix thoroughly.
To eat Zaru Soba, mix a little of the wasabi and leek into the dipping sauce. Dunk soba noodles and seaweed into the sauce and SLURP noodles while savouring the delicate sweet and salty sauce flavours. Cleanse the palate with a touch of pickled pink ginger. Oishi
Buckwheat Soba Noodles - Zaru Soba - with Dipping Sauce.