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Soba in Bay area?

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  • Ridge Aug 31, 2010 01:48 PM
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During a business trip to Japan this summer I visited a friend who took me to an amazing Soba place in Kyoto. (for a review of the food I ate in Japan see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7268...).

I tried searching this board but there was not much up-to-date information on Soba in the Bay area. Is there any place in the Bay area to find good homemade Saba noodles?

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  1. Bigger Japanese grocery stores like Nijiya and Mitsuwa stock fresh soba noodles, which have a distinct texture from the usual dried kind.

    675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA

    1. Mikaku on Grant switched owners, heard the previous owner went back to Japan, in case someone searches the archives.

      So that leaves Sushi Ran in Sausalito, which I made an inquiry here with no response.


      I saw a locally made Japanese TV food program (more like a paid commercial/review), where I saw a kitchen chef make/roll/and hand cut soba there and it was a featured item (~$9.50). Other than that, I'm not aware of any other restaurants that make them fresh in house. And Sushi Ran's I'm sure won't measure up to what you had in Kyoto, but probably the best for a quick fresh fix (unless Morimoto in Napa offers it and makes them in house....anyone know for sure?


      Sushi Ran
      107 Caledonia St., Sausalito, CA 94965

      4 Replies
      1. re: K K

        Here's the video advert via Hello Restaurant (KTSF Ch 8), circa 1:42 you can see footage of the Sushi Ran kitchen chef make and cut soba for the zaru soba. Elegantly presented but small portion.


        Sushi Ran
        107 Caledonia St., Sausalito, CA 94965

        1. re: K K

          I never see Hello Restaurant on tv anymore. Wasn't sure that it was paid placement; but I guess it kind of seems like that might be true. But, from what I've seen, they mostly "review" good places.

          Looks like it's still on ch. 26.

          1. re: jman1

            Found Hello restaurant on Comcast Cable (digital) on Ch...175 where it is now a dedicated Japanese channel (no further subscription needed), with mostly English speaking shows (e.g. JP news in English).

        2. re: K K

          I just asked last week, but my friend who works in the kitchen at Sushi Ran said they don't make fresh soba.

          Sushi Ran
          107 Caledonia St., Sausalito, CA 94965

        3. Mildly off-topic: does anyone know where to get good Japanese-style buckwheat flour? I've been researching making my own soba, and the flour they use looks smoother and lighter than what I find at Rainbow Grocery, which is great for buckwheat crepes or pancakes but might be hard to turn into cohesive noodles. I'll report back on what I find at local Japanese grocers.

          Rainbow Grocery
          1745 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103

          2 Replies
          1. re: SteveG

            Please let us know how your Soba turns out and post the recipe if it turns out good.

            1. re: Ridge

              Will do. The good soba noodles in Japan are 80% buckwheat, which makes it a hard dough to handle. Commercial noodles are typically less than half buckwheat--you can tell by what is listed as the first ingredient.

              I'll also do some looking for better-quality soba noodles in groceries. I know flash frozen fresh noodles are a big new thing in Japan, so maybe we have some imported frozen noodles that are good quality available locally.

          2. Any new options? I saw the fresh soba segment on Bourdain's Hokkaido show and would really like to try that stuff.

            Soba demo starts at about the six-minute mark: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUbwnF...

            4 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Don't think there are any new options where chefs make it from scratch. Soba just doesn't have the same popularity (and trendy status) as ramen to make this even viable for budding entrepreneurs. Plus I don't think anyone in Northern California has the equipment to do this properly (nor the 30+ years experience like the soba chefs that served Bourdain in Hokkaido and Tokyo). I re-read DezzerSF's comment above, checked and confirmed that the PDF menus from the website do not list zaru soba, but I suppose you can still try calling Sushi Ran to ask if it possible to special request it in advance. Who knows, maybe they will do it, but you have to specify you want made to order "teuchi soba", and you want it done the exact way as showcased in Hello Restaurant.

              The next best option is in Southern California where there are a few places around the Torrance / Gardena area that will have something that will satisfy the craving.

              Sushi Ran
              107 Caledonia St., Sausalito, CA 94965

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I've been keeping an eye and ear out and have not heard of anything.

                If you travel to NYC regularly, put soba on your list. There are at least five specialty soba restaurants in Manhattan. I recently asked CH Manhattan for recommendations. It appears that SobaKoh is a good option for traditional soba and Cocoron for more innovative offerings.


                Locally, you can choose from a pretty decent selection of dry soba noodles at the Japanese grocery stores. I try to find a product where buckwheat is the primary ingredient (the cheaper ones list wheat before buckwheat). Then pick up a bottle of soba tsuyu; add some green onions and wasabi or grated daikon.

                If you also enjoy udon and haven't been yet, I suggest a visit to Sanuki Udon in Japantown. I know that others here don't much care for their noodles, but they are pretty good compared to other local options. I like to order the tempura udon set for lunch (just remember to eat the shrimp tempura before they go soggy).

                Soba videos:



                Sanuki Udon
                22 Peace Plz, San Francisco, CA 94115

                1. re: jman1

                  Yeah and there's also Ichimian in Torrance (Southern California), Yabu in LA (Pico)...and in Honolulu, I-naba and Matsugen (that replaced the legendary Yabusoba that might have been a slice of true Japanese soba heaven) that all make fresh soba in house. It's quite sad that we have to travel outside of the SF Bay Area for restaurant quality fresh soba. Even the South Bay (that has more and better non sushi Japanese food in general) is lacking in this.

                  Sanuki's udon is ok, I wouldn't make it a destination stop for those coming outside of SF, but they do have an eclectic offering of izakaya style dishes including curry rice.

                  1. re: jman1

                    I've just returned from NYC so can now confirm that there's nothing comparable to Sobakoh that I've found in the SF area.

                    While there, I also visited Tori Shin for yakitori. This was my first time, and I didn't opt for the special menu. It's probably better than the local SF offerings, but at least we're close (and I haven't tried everything local).

                2. Inside Scoop says Ippuku is now open for lunch, weekdays 11-2, and offering cold and hot handmade soba and some sides: http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/files...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: rubadubgdub

                    I tried Ippuku's plain housemade (from flour imported from Hokkaido) soba with dipping sauce ($9) today. Great texture, but my favorite thing was the left-over dipping sauce with hot soba water at the end, so next time I think I'll get a more complicated version. I also had the goma-ae of the day ($4), which was fresh favas in a sesame dressing, lovely.