I had been drafting another post to close 2018. But a lazy afternoon lunch in Nagano changed all that!We were first drawn to the Soba maker at the window; followed by the constant flow of patrons heading inside. The menu is small, but sounded interesting. After a ten-minute wait, we were led to a our table amidst traditional Japanese tatami seating, as well as bar counters seats. The almost open-concept kitchen was quietly busy and steamy. The Tempura Soba was evidently popular… trays of it pushing out the kitchen steadily. So we ordered that, and the other one that caught my eye, the Kurumi Soba (Mix grated Walnut with Soba Sauce). Both arrived quite promptly. The server explained our dips and sauces in animated Japanese. Didn’t understand a word she said but heck! I’ll make it work! Never mind the Tempura Soba for now… The Kurumi Soba was exceptional! Apart from the usual Tsuyu dipping sauce, the chilled Soba came with a scoop of grated walnut paste, sliced scallions, grated daikon and wasabi. Put these condiments into the bowl of walnut paste and drown that with the tsuyu sauce. Stir that up good, adding more tsuyu to your preferred consistency. It’s incredible what a big difference the fragrance of the walnut does to the dish. The nutty flavor and slightly sticky texture was amazing! I don’t ever want to eat regular Zaru Soba again! After this crazy walnut sorcery, nothing else is gonna cut it! I personally prefer a slightly creamier (less tsuyu) dipping sauce for a richer, nuttier flavor. The handmade buckwheat Soba was clearly fresh. With a softer bite compared to the dried version. When you’ve finished all the Soba noodles, add the hot Soba-yu to the remaining dipping sauce and drink it up like a nice hot cuppa tea! Soba-yu is the hot water used to boil the Soba. The milky broth contains flavors and nutrients of the buckwheat Soba that cooked in it and makes a nice finish to a Soba meal. I was happy to slurp up every last drop of the tasty walnut “tea”! Incredibly happy to stumble upon this fantastic find! It was a wonderful lunch, plus it wasn’t too expensive either. Kurumi Soba has left such a deep impression. I’ll be looking out for it all over Japan from here onwards!
I had planned for a bigger story to wrap up the year but this humble dish totally stole my heart. Which goes to show, simplicity can do wonderful things! So there you go, a short read from me and we can all carry on with our festivities. And to a great 2019 ahead! Cheers to more good food finds in the new year!
信州蕎麦の草笛 @ 1 Chome-２２−６ Minamichitose, Nagano-shi, Nagano-ken 380-0823, Japan. Phone +81 26 219 6651
Disclaimer- This is not a sponsored post!