WHAT IS IZUMO SOBA?
Izumo soba is a traditional food in Japan that is widely eaten in the Izumo region of Shimane prefecture. It was known to be a traditional soba noodle of Izumo which was uniquely invented from emergency foods. The soba noodles were made by a unique method called “hikigurumi” which grinds soba seeds together with the husk which gives a rich aroma of soba, blackish color, and chewy texture, and this is the original flavor of soba noodles.
IZUMO SOBA’S ORIGIN/ HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
The reason why Izumo became a soba restaurant is that in the Oku Izumo region (present-day, Yunnan city) soba is cultivated because it is resistant to cold and has a short harvest time, and can be cultivated even in lean areas. Izumo soba was said to have been handed down when Matsue’s clan first lord Naomasa Matsudaira was transferred from Shinshu Matsumoto or simply there is a change in the territory of the daimyo to another.
During the late Edo period, the buckwheat diet was established by some buckwheat craftsmen from Shinano. It is said that soba, which was a treat for the common people, spread to the upper samurai. At that time, the 7th Matsue feudal lord, Matsudaira Jigo, who was known as “Fumaiko” as a famous feudal lord who promoted the industry and culture of this area, said, “Noble people do not eat soba.” Despite the fact that he stated that, Fumaiko talks about how he ate soba that he goes to one at the street at night, and as a tea person, he also eats soba noodles on tea kaiseki. It is said that it was taken in and played a role in improving its status. He was the person who improved the status of soba by using soba as a dish of tea banquet dishes and writing haiku with the theme of soba.
HOW IS IZUMO SOBA MADE?
About the blackness appearance of Izumo soba, generally, the buckwheat uses Sarashina flour made from the central part, but in the case of Izumo soba, the fruit of buckwheat with buckwheat husks is ground as it is. There are four layers of flour in the noodles, the first flour, the second flour, the third flour from the center, and the fourth flour near the skin. It is white in color, but it becomes blacker gradually. It is made by a flour milling method and as a result, the color becomes darker, but the soba is nutritious and fragrant, and has a good flavor and texture. It is also characterized by having 100% buckwheat noodles composed of generally, 20% of the binder (wheat flour) and 80% of the buckwheat noodles. One can enjoy a firm texture when it is eaten.
There is also a characteristic on how to eat it, and in other regions, soba is put in the soup stock, but the soup stock itself is put in a bowl (for this reason, the mouth of the inoguchi where the soup stock is put is narrowed), and green onions, seaweed, radish, and some condiments are put on it. Usually, the soba noodles are served in three tiers, and after eating the soba in the first tier, the surplus dashi is transferred to the second tier and then moved to the third tier. Soba-to is delicious as it is, or with the remaining condiments and dashi stock.
What is so unique about it?
The unique characteristic of Izumo soba is that the color of the soba is blackish and the aroma is high. This is because the buckwheat nuts are ground to the cuticles. Another unique trait of Izumo soba is that it can be eaten in two ways; namely by Wariko Soba and Kamaage Soba. Soba noodles in a round bowl called Wariko are sprinkled with soup and eaten. It is made by stacking boiled soba noodles on a stack of round lacquerware. Generally, it is stacked in three layers, and a separate container for condiments and soup stock is attached. Wariko soba is the name given to the container in which soba is served. Wariko started in the Edo period when people called Ren (a group of people beyond their status) thought of it as a lunch box to bring soba to the outdoors. At that time, the shape was rectangular, but in the Meiji era. Is rectangular, oval from the Meiji to Taisho era, and then changed to the current round shape from 1945.
The second way of eating Izumo soba is by making it into Kamaage soba. It is a kind of boiled soba that is transferred to a bowl as it is, the soba hot water is poured into it, and dashi and condiments are added. Vitamins, minerals, etc. are dissolved in the soba hot water, so the nutritional value is outstanding. At first glance, it looks like kake soba, except that the boiled noodles are served as they are without being tightened with water, instead of being tightened with water.
RECOMMENDED IZUMO SOBA RESTAURANTS
Now that we’ve learned more about Izumo soba, I’ll introduce you to the restaurants in Izumo City, Shimane Prefecture, where you can eat delicious Izumo soba.
It is located near Izumo Taisha Shrine and is quite a popular shop that locals often visit. This shop started as a candy store, which has been inherited from generation to generation in front of the main gate of the national treasure “Izumo Taisha”. It was renewed as “Soba Tanakaya” in 1997 and serve Izumo Soba ever since. It reopened in 2013 to coincide with the Heisei sengū of Izumo Taisha, so it has a brand new interior with beautiful grain. You can enjoy Izumo soba with a refreshing feeling due to the open interior with high ceilings.
Address: 364 Kizukihigashi, Taishacho, Izumo City, Shimane Prefecture
Phone Number: 0853-53-2351
Hours Open: 11: 00-16: 00 (finished as soon as there is no soba) open on Sunday; Regular holiday (Thursday)
A long-established soba restaurant that has been in Izumo for many years, the green curtain is a landmark. There are two types of seats, table seats and tatami mat seats. The tatami mat seats are spacious and can be used by people with children. You can enjoy the three types of Izumo soba with different condiments here.The first tier is raw eggs, the second tier is tororo, and the third tier is seaweed green onions, all of which are unique condiments of Izumo soba . In addition, you can also combine the rich “soba-yu” that is particular to the shop, so be sure to ask for “three-colored wariko 3 dan”.
Address: 659 East Yotsukado, Taishacho Kizukihi, Izumo City, Shimane Prefecture
Phone Number: 0853-53-2366
Hours Open: 9: 30-16: 00 (LO15: 30) Open daily
Yakumo Main Store
The interior is small and has a slightly retro atmosphere, and there are plenty of table seats. The recommended menu at “Yakumo Main Store” is “Sanshoku Wariko”. You can enjoy 3 types of Izumo soba with 3 types of toppings: fried egg, egg, and yam. The photo shows “Goshiki Wariko”, and you can enjoy radish and bonito toppings in addition to “Sanshoku Wariko”. There is also a “Yakumo East Branch” in the immediate vicinity
Address: 276-1 Kizukihigashi, Taishacho, Izumo City, Shimane Prefecture
Phone Number: 0853-53-0257
Hours Open: 9: 00-16: 00 Regular holiday: (Thursday)
Haneya Main Store
This shop is a long-established soba restaurant that has been open since the end of the Edo period, and is a famous Izumo soba restaurant with a deep history, such as offering meals to the imperial family as “Kenjo Soba”. It is about a 5-minute walk from Izumo Station and is a station. Although it is a long-established restaurant with a long history, it is offered at a relatively reasonable price, so you can easily enjoy your meal.
Address: 549 Honcho, Imaichi, Izumo City, Shimane Prefecture
Phone Number: 0853-21-0058
Hours Open: [Lunch] 11: 00-15: 00 [Dinner] 17: 00-20: 00 (LO19: 30) Regular holiday: 1st and 3rd Wednesday
This shop has been around for over 200 years since the late Edo period and is said to be the oldest long-established shop for Izumo soba. It has tatami rooms/table seats, so it is safe for children and the elderly. At this shop, you can eat “wariko soba (3 dan)” for less than 1,000 yen (excluding tax). There is also a set called “Matching set”, which is a set of soba noodles (2 steps), zenzai, sack, and fortune. This set is unique to a soba shop near Izumo Taisha, and is a popular menu for women returning from sightseeing.
Address: 409-2 Kizukihigashi, Taishacho, Izumo City, Shimane Prefecture
Phone Number: 0853-53-2352
Hours Open: 11: 00-17: 00 (finished as soon as sold out) Regular holiday: Wednesday