Here’s a dish that you hardly ever find in Tokyo; nishin soba.
When it comes to having noodles in Japan, udon noodles taste better in the west, whereas soba noodles taste better in the east. However, nishin soba is an exception. It is a dish which is originally from Kyoto, located in western Japan.
What is nishin soba?
Nishin soba is a bowl of soba (buckwheat) noodles with dried herring (nishin) fillet on top. The fillet is seasoned with soy sauce, sweet rice wine (mirin) and sugar.
Nishin soba has been eaten in Kyoto since the 19th century. Herring that was caught in abundance in Hokkaido was brought to Kyoto after it was dried for preservation, and the idea of using it for noodles was made.
Herring is rich in protein, minerals and vitamin, and it goes surprising well with soba noodles. Nishin soba is usually eaten in Kansai area in New Year’s Eve.
Why eating soba noodles in New Year’s Eve?
We call this tradition toshikoshi-soba (year-crossing noodles) and we do this to let go of hardships and welcome another new year ahead. Because soba noodles break easily with each bite we eat, by eating soba noodles in New Year’s Eve, we symbolically break off the year that is about to pass.
Despite of the fact that some traditions in Japan became extinct, toshikoshi-soba is still present. We hope it will last for many more years to come!