Last month I went to Yamagata to taste the ever famous soba (a type of Japanese noodle). I took a train on the Senzan Line (仙山線) from Sendai city (aroun ￥1200 one way).
My first impression of Yamagata was that it is more natural and has less people than Sendai City, so I enjoyed moving around more freely. You can eat soba noodles in nearly every and any city or town in Japan. The reason why I decided to travel all the way to Yamagata was because a friend had told me that she ate the most delicious soba of her life in Yamagata. The soba shop is called Yamagata Chottotei (山形一寸亭 ). Here is google maps link for your reference and convenience:
This soba restaurant is open between 11:00-15:00 for lunch and 17:00-20.00 for dinner everyday (except Wednesdays). My friend told me that here you can taste the difference in the soba made by different chefs, and decide which soba is the most delicious. It sounded great and I wanted to go to there so much!! But unfortunately it seems this experience was an added bonus to a lunch she ate with her workplace and it had been pre-arranged for them. From the outside of the shop, I could saw that this shop had a great atmosphere with a beautiful tree outside the front window. You can see what the store looks like here :
When I entered the shop, the staff called out “Irasshaimase!!” which means “Welcome to our shop!”. Inside the shop was spotlessly clean with pleasing interior design. Then I was asked “Nan mei sama desuka?” which means “How many people?” and because I was alone I just answered “Hitori desu” (or you can answer with the more formal “Ichi mei desu”). After that I was told to choose any seat I like. You can choose to eat at a table with chairs or at a Japanese-style table, sitting on cushions on the wooden floor instead. I like to sit Japanese style, so I chose Japanese option.
After I sat, I took a menu and started to look at what I could eat. You can choose from many soba options! If you want to eat the most popular dish on the menu, you can ask by saying “Ichiban ninki wa dochira desuka?”. If you have already decided what you want to eat, you can say “kore hitotsu onegaishimasu” while pointing to the picture of what you want to eat. Once you’ve finished stating your order, just say “Ijo desu” which means “That’s all”. You can choose between hot or cold broth to go with your soba noodles. Here is a hint of what’s on offer :
Don’t worry if you cannot speak japanese, there is google translate who can scan from your camera and translate it for you, thank you google translate!!
Anyway, I chose to eat 板そば (Ita Soba) . The soba was put in the wooden box and served with a bowl of shoyu (soy-sauce) flavoured soup. It was cold and delicious! It was a big portion as well!! You can see just how big from the picture:
Please don’t be mistake soba noodles for udon noodles! Udon is a different kind of japanese noodle, usually much thicker than soba. Japanese people often say that udon is suited for males and soba for females – but I don’t care! I have days when I prefer soba to udon and sometimes I’m more into udon than soba! Perhaps I will give the udon a try next time I visit Chottotei!
By the way, the taste of soba noodles in Yamagata was quite different to the ordinary soba I’ve eaten in Sendai. It was former and more dense. The seasoning was little bit stronger in flavour too. I prefer cold soba because it tastes unique to my tounge. Some people like Yamagata’s soba more, some people prefer ordinary soba. Tasting a new kind of soba in a new place was a happy experience for me, especially after my usual monotonous day to day experiments in the laboratory!
If you have a free time, please visit Chottotei in Yamagata!
For more great destinations in Tohoku, visit our homepage