Kitchen Tips

The Secret to Soba with Kinsan Our Japanese Cooking Expert

Chef Ikuei Arakane, or Kinsan, as he’s known, is our resident expert on Japanese cuisine. Specialising in modern and innovative Japanese dishes, Kinsan has been cooking for 36 years.

During that time, he has headed up award-winning restaurants across Australia, including The Glass House in Hobart, where he is now the executive chef. Here, Kinsan shares his love of Japanese cooking, essential Japanese ingredients, and an authentic recipe for soba noodles to try at home.

Ikuei Arakane
Chef Ikuei Arakane

Image Courtesy: Google Royalty Free Image

1. What do you love the most about Japanese cuisine?

I love the finest Japanese techniques, which draw the flavours out of individual ingredients, and create a dish that showcases and enhances the characters of each ingredient.

2. Why do you think Japanese cuisine is so popular in Australia?

I believe the Japanese cuisine is popular in Australia, mainly because of the increase in the quality level of ingredients in Australia. Compared to 10 years ago, the ingredients available and the quality of the items that can be purchased in Australia are completely different and so, the Japanese cuisine, which specialises in drawing out the original flavours of ingredients, has also increased the level of influence in Australia.

3. What are the must-have ingredients for Japanese cooking?

The most essential ingredients for Japanese cooking are bonito flakes (katsuo), konbu seaweed, salt, water, sake and fresh ingredients.

Tempura Soba - Buckwheat Noodle Soup

Kinsan’s soba noodle (nihachi soba)

800g buckwheat flour
200g plain flour


1. Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl, then add water while massaging the mixture with your hands to form a dough.

2. Continuously add small amounts of water until the dough becomes the softness of your ear lobes.

3. Place in a clean bowl and cover with cling wrap to rest for 1 hour.

4. Flatten the dough with a wooden dough roller (in Japan we use a “menbo”, which is a unique dough roller for noodles) to the required thickness and cut into noodles with a knife.

5. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, then cook the soba noodles for 3-5 minutes depending on the desired size and finish.

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