Soba (そば or 蕎麦) is a type of thin Japanese noodle made from buckwheat flour. It is served either chilled with a dipping sauce, or in hot broth as a noodle soup. Moreover, it is common in Japan to refer to any thin noodle as soba in contrast to udon
which are thick noodles made from wheat. It takes three months for
buckwheat to be ready for harvest, so people can harvest it four times
in a year; it is harvested mainly in spring, summer, and autumn. In
Japan, buckwheat is produced mainly in Hokkaido.
People call soba that is made with buckwheat that has just been
harvested "shin-soba". It has more sweetness and taste than soba.
In Japan, soba noodles are served in a variety of situations. They are a popular inexpensive fast food at train stations throughout Japan and are served by exclusive and expensive specialty restaurants. Markets sell dried noodles and men-tsuyu, or instant noodle broth, to make home preparation easy.
The most famous Japanese soba noodles come from Nagano. Soba from Nagano is called Shinano Soba or Shinshu soba. Ni-hachi (二八, two-eight) soba, consists of two parts of wheat and eight of buckwheat; Juuwari (十割, 100%) soba, the finest (and usually most expensive) variety, consists entirely of buckwheat.
- Sarashina soba: thin, light-colored soba, made with refined buckwheat
- Inaka soba: "country soba", thick soba made with whole buckwheat