Learn a traditional Japanese culinary art from a master

Article by Felice Forby

As Takagi’s soba master had put it, “Nothing tastes better than soba noodles you make with your very own hands.” While soba, or buckwheat noodles, is a simple dish in itself, making the noodles from scratch is a challenge that combines culinary art with precision knife handling and a dash of Japanese discipline.

Buckwheat has long been grown in the mountainous regions of Nagano, lending to its well-established tradition of soba making (and eating!) and fame as the destination for getting the best serving of these noodles in the country.

Takagi’s soba-making workshop was the perfect opportunity to get more than just a literal bite of this tradition—For a moment, I was able to step into the shoes of an apprentice as I learned from an experienced soba master who taught me all the basics, plus how to use authentic soba-making tools. It was 100% hands-on from start to finish, including getting to eat our own noodles at the end!

The hardest part was cutting the noodles to just the right thinness and keeping them uniform, but I assure you it’s all a matter of practice. Best of all, rather than just buying or eating soba noodles at a shop, I came home with a souvenir that keeps on giving: I now have the ability to make my friends and family some “real” soba so they, too, can have a little taste of Matsumoto!

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