Do you like Soba? Soba is one of the traditional Japanese cuisine as well as Sushi and Tempura. You can enjoy unique soba depending on the each part of Japan, but I will introduce Itasoba from Yamagata today.
In Yamagata Prefecture, Soba is very popular that there is a “Soba Street” where lots of soba restaurants gather. A unique Soba from Yamagata Prefecture is chewy Itasoba. It is said that delicious Soba requires delicious water, and Yamagata Prefecture has a rich resource of clear and clean water such as Mogami River. So Yamagata is one of the best places in Japan to grow Soba.
About Soba Street
There are three Soba Streets in Yamagata Prefecture.
- Mogamigawa Sannansho Soba Street (Murayama City)
- Oku no Hosomichi Obanazawa Soba Street (Obanazawa City)
- Oishida Soba Street (Oishida Town)
There are more than ten Soba specialized restaurants in each street, attracting Soba fans from all over Japan.
What is Itasoba?
Itasoba is one of the kinds of Soba that is commonly eaten in the inland of Yamagata Prefecture. The start of Itasoba was putting soba on long wooden boards or wooden boxes and ate after group work in farms or group meetings. In the beginning, a group of people shared soba from one big box.
Another unique characteristic of Soba from Yamagata is its color and thickness. The Soba from Yamagata is black, thick, and hard, on the other hand, Soba from Tokyo (Edo) is thin and rather soft. It is said that as people chew Yamagata Soba, the taste of Soba becomes more and more distinct.
* There are many Soba restaurants that serve other Soba as well.
Arakisoba (Mogamigawa Sannansho Soba Street)
One of the most well-known Soba restaurants in Yamagata Soba Street is “Arakisoba” located in Mogamigawa Sannansho Soba Street.
The restaurant is established in 1920, which means they have more than 100 years of history. At Arakisoba, you can enjoy the traditional thick and chewy Itasoba.
Another proof of Arakisoba’s taste is that they are listed as the only restaurant in Tohoku region to “La Liste”, the list of world’s top 1,000 restaurants approved by the French government.
The restaurant uses an old house with a straw-thatched roof, producing a nice atmosphere. You can feel the tradition here from the interior, with Irori (Japanese hearth constructed in the room) and the floor seating style.
Thick, chewy Soba has was delicious, and I could feel the strong aroma of Soba.
I highly recommend to order “Nishin no Misoni”, herring cooked with miso.
The herring matches so well with Soba tsuyu (Soba soup), it makes the aroma of Soba stand out. This menu has been provided since the establishment of the restaurant; it is so popular that there are some people visit Arakisoba to have this herring.
“Arakisoba Set” is the set menu of Itasoba, herring cooked with miso, and seasonal vegetables. You will not miss the must-have if you order this set. Itasoba for one person was enough for me, but there is 1.5 person size for Itasoba, too.
Enjoy the “real soba” listed as one of the world’s top 1,000 restaurants.
65 Okuboko, Murayama-shi
11:00 A.M. to 5:00 PM, Closed on Wednesdays
15 minutes drive from Murayama Station
http://arakisoba.com/ (Japanese Only)
Midori, Oishida Soba Street
Itasoba is delicious at Midori as well, but Kamo Seiro, soba with duck soup is also popular. The soba here is thinner than the ones from Arakisoba.
There are zashiki sheets and also tables. Lighting is nice and calm.
20-9 Midoricho, Oishida-machi, Kitamurayama-gun, Yamagata-ken
11:00 A.M. to 7:00 PM
15 minutes walk from Oishida Station
http://tabelog.com/yamagata/A0605/A060502/6004097/ (Japanese Only)
Learn more about soba at our special feature "Soba - the food rooted in Japanese culture"