Yakisoba, one of Japan’s famous street foods, literally means fried or grilled buckwheat noodles. The dish, though Chinese in origin, is considered a Japanese dish. It is a derivative of Chinese chow mein.
The dish first appeared in food stalls in Japan at some point during the early 20th century. Although soba means buckwheat, typically suggesting noodles made from that flour in mainland Japan, yakisoba noodles are made from wheat flour. It is flavoured with a sweetened, thickened condiment similar to oyster sauce.
It is prepared by frying ramen-style noodles with bite-sized pork, vegetables such as tomatoes, pickles, carrots, onions, garlic and ginger and seasoned with spices such as cinnamon and cloves; chuno sauce which is sweet, tangy, savoury and spicy. It is served with a multitude of classic garnishes, such as aonori (seaweed powder), beni shoga (shredded pickled ginger), katsuobushi (fish flakes), and mayonnaise.
In Japan, yakisoba can be found sizzling away in stalls everywhere from baseball stadiums to traditional omatsuri (festivals). If you’ve been to an event in Japan, you probably remember the smell of the fruity, spicy sauce caramelising on giant teppans (cast iron griddles) with the noodles.
The signature sweet and tart flavor comes courtesy of chuno sauce, known simply as sōsu; a condiment poured on everything from tonkatsu to salads and is used in dishes ranging from Hamburg steak to Japanese curry.
Yakisoba is most familiarly served on a plate either as a main dish or a side dish. Another popular way to prepare and serve yakisoba in Japan is to pile the noodles into a bun sliced down the middle in the style of a hot dog, and garnish the top with mayonnaise and shreds of pickled ginger. Called yakisoba-pan, pan meaning bread, it is commonly available at local matsuri (Japanese festivals) or konbini (convenience stores).
So if you are a noodle lover like us, don’t miss out on this simple yet delicous treat when you are in Japan.
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