Must-eat in Shimane : soba buckwheat noodle

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Soba (buckwheat noodle) is one of the specialties in Shimane. Though there is a variety of soba throughout Shimane, but this article features Izumo soba in eastern Shimane.

Izumo soba is known as one of the three major soba in Japan along with Wanko soba of Iwate and Togakushi soba of Nagano. Compared to other two soba, Izumo soba has darker and stronger buckwheat flavor as the full of the seed is used in making soba flour. The texture of the noodle is chewy while most Japanese eat soba by getting smoothly down to one’s throat.

Soba flowers start blooming in September and produce seeds in October. Therefore, the best season of eating soba may be after November. If you visit Shimane during the season, you may face the soba festival celebrating the soba seed harvest.

soba flower

Let’s have a close look at the characteristic eating manner here.

Warigo

Served in a three-tier round-shape lackerware together with sauce and a variety of toppings (nori seaweed, shredded raddish, green onion and so on). Put your favorite toppings and dip the sauce into the top lackerware. Once the first layer is finished, pour the leftover to the next layer and add more sauce or toppings if needed.

Though three-tier is the standard of Warigo, soba lovers or people with big appetite would order five, six or more layers.

割子

Kamaage

Served in a bowl with broth. Add the sauce to the soup until it becomes your taste.

釜揚

If you have enough room in your stomach, order both Warigo and Kamaage, as many soba restaurants offer one-layer Warigo.

There are more soba varieties throughout Shimane, such as Sanbe soba (around Mt. Sanbe in central area) and Oki soba (in islands area). Only tasting will tell you the difference.