First introduced in Japan during the 1600s, soba is made from buckwheat and sometimes mixed with wheat.

Japanese Cha Soba (Green tea Soba) in dish

Soba from different regions vary, with those from Nagano and Yamagata prefectures being highly acclaimed. Ita soba, for instance, is a Yamagata speciality — noodles are slightly wider than soba from other areas and served on large boards.

Ingredients vary across regions too, giving local soba their distinctive taste. In Uji, a city south of Kyoto, for example, green tea powder is mixed with buckwheat flour, imbuing its soba with the colour and flavour of green tea (matcha).

Regardless of the type of soba, cold soba (zaru soba) is served with a dipping sauce in which green onions and wasabi may be mixed into. At the end of the meal, the remaining sauce is added to the sobayu, the slightly sweet water in which the soba was cooked in. You are then meant to drink the sobayu as a beverage.