The train stations in Japan are spectacular. Tokyo’s public transit system is incredible, but I was blown away by just how immaculate and huge each major station really is. Shinjuku Station in Tokyo is the #3 largest train station in the world, with 36 platforms and 200 exits. It serves over 3 million people each day and is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the world’s busiest transport hub. Almost every station was so crowded, we were literally packed like sardines not only inside the train cars but outside the train cars, too! Just trying to make our way through the waves of people to one of the many exits was a struggle. (I absolutely loved it, though!)
At Nagano Station which is an hour outside of Tokyo but still busier than ever, there were a ton of great places to eat and a four-story shopping center where I spent a few solo hours browsing for clothes while Adam worked in one of the many coffee shops there. In one of the restaurant windows, there was a man making fresh soba noodles. We caught him just as he was getting the dough out to get started, so we hung around and watched the whole process.
I thought I’d share the photos because it was so fascinating and one of the coolest things we saw while in Japan. Soba noodles are served in almost every restaurant there (or so it seemed), so it was interesting to watch how they’re made. There’s an art to it, that’s for sure.
“Soba usually refers to thin noodles made from buckwheat flour, or buckwheat and wheat flours (Nagano soba). They contrast to thick wheat noodles, called udon. In Japan, the word can refer to any thin noodle. Soba noodles are served either chilled with a dipping sauce or in hot broth as a noodle soup. In Japan, soba noodles are served in a variety of settings: they are a popular inexpensive fast food at railway stations throughout Japan, but are also served by expensive specialty restaurants. Markets sell dried noodles and men-tsuyu, or instant noodle broth, to make home preparation easy. There are a wide variety of dishes, both hot for winter and cold for summer, using these noodles.” [wiki]
For reference, this is how soba noodles are usually served. (This photo was from dinner the night we soaked in the private onsen in Nagano.) Most of the time they’re cold and come with a bowl on the side full of dipping sauce. It was definitely Adam’s favorite dish in Japan. Mmmm, I love carbs.
Here’s more footage of the process that Adam shot on his GoPro.
Have you ever eaten soba noodles? What are your thoughts?