If I say „pasta” and ask you to tell me what comes into your mind immediately hearing the word, you will most probably shout „Italy!” at the top of your voice. I, for one, am a great fan of Italian dishes made with durum pasta. But let’s not forget that the making and eating of pasta and noodles is just as deeply rooted in the gastronomical culture of the Far East as it is in European countries. Actually, even more so. Japanese tradition has a special and very important place for pasta. It’s only that–like many other characteristics of the country and its culture–their noodles are somewhat different from what we have here. Today we are focusing on soba, one of the most popular Japanese noodles.

The buckwheat treatment

How is soba different from our regular pasta types? First of all, it isn’t made of wheat but buckwheat, which lends unique colour, texture and taste to these finely cut noodles. The production and consumption of soba originates in the Edo-period, that is, some time between the 17th and the 19th centuries. Almost all neighbourhoods used to have little soba establishments similar to today’s cafés, where people could have a casual soba meal and some sake, of course.

The people of Tokyo were much better off back then compared to their country folks and they could afford to eat white rice more often than the poor people inhabiting the countryside. Sadly, the overconsumption of white rice led to an unnerving (or at best unpleasant) medical condition: beriberi. This disease is caused by low levels of thiamine, otherwise known as vitamine B1, in the body. The various symptoms include cardiovascular abnormalities, irregular gastric function and the numbness of legs and arms. They didn’t quite know about these back then, but they realized one thing: soba can be used to prevent and cure beriberi. Why? It’s easy: buckwheat contains important amino acids (including lisine, which we need every day!) and vitamins; it is especially high in thiamine! And that, unfortunately, is not true about white rice, which is very low in B1 vitamin.

How to eat soba?

You may not be suprised if I say: with chopsticks. It is eaten with hot and cold soups, it can be stir-fried or even rolled in a sushi! Buckwheat seeds can be used to make tea or a special soba beer and the hulls are good for stuffing pillows with. Nothing goes to waste! One thing is for sure: soba noodles are to be slurped noisily, because that counts as polite in Japan (at least when eating soba). However, today’s manners allow the quiet consumption of soba, too…times do change!

Come and have soba…and loads of other fantastic Japanese specialties at the Sushi Sei Japanese restaurant! Pay a visit to Sushi Sei and enjoy our high quality dishes and service in Óbuda. Take your beloved ones or business partners out for lunch or dinner, book a table or a whole box if that suits your needs; we will make sure you have a great time at our restaurant! Or, if you feel more like having our special dishes at home, we deliver them to you!