Timothy Tye
Shimbashi Soba

Shimbashi SobaShimbashi Soba at Great World City, Singapore. (30 July, 2017)

Shimbashi Soba is a Japanese noodle restaurant in Singapore. It is one of few restaurants outside Japan that specialises in serving freshly prepared soba (Japanese: 蕎麦). The restaurant is owned by the R.E.&S Group which is founded by Mr H. Tatara. The first Shimbashi Soba restaurant opened at The Paragon Shopping Centre several years ago, while the second one, opened at Great World City in 2017. I had the pleasure of dining here at the invitation of my friend Catherina Hosoi when I was visiting Singapore.

Catherina HosoiThe lovely Catherina Hosoi, my Facebook friend since 2013 (30 July, 2017)

Shimbashi Soba specialises in serving dishes made with buckwheat noodle, or soba. The noodle is made right there in the restaurant itself. Soba making is carried out daily, and diners at the restaurant have the pleasure of seeing how buckwheat noodle is made. The buckwheat is imported from Tasmania, which has a climate that is similar to that of Japan, except that it is in the Southern Hemisphere. The Japanese decided to open farms in Tasmania to grow buckwheat, in order that they can enjoy fresh soba the whole year round.

Freshness of the soba at Shimbashi Soba is guaranteed through faithful observance of the three core principles of soba-making. The first of these principles is Hiki-tate 挽きたて, meaning the soba is freshly milled from buckwheat seeds imported from Tasmania. That way, the buckwheat flour is fresh and fragrant.

The second principle is Uchi-tate 打ちたて, means that the soba is freshly made. Indeed the soba at Shimbashi Soba is freshly made in the restaurant itself using the buckwheat flour that is also milled on site. This ensures that the noodle maintains a crispy, solid taste and consistent texture.

The third principle is Yude-tate 茹でたて, meaning the soba is freshly cooked. This is done by tossing the soba into boiling water and once it is cooked to the springy consistency, or al dente, it is removed from the boiling water and dipped into iced water to bring the cooking to a stop. Being able to properly controll this process is the hallmark of a true soba master.

The Soba Master at Shimbashi Soba is Mr Yoshinori Shibazaki. He has been making soba for some forty years, in Japan as well as in Australia. With the mission to teach the world about nutritious Japanese food, Mr Shibazaki opened a number of Soba restaurants in Australia, and moved to Singapore in 2016 to oversee Shimbashi Soba's business there. I had the pleasure of meeting Shibazaki-san during my second visit to the restaurant, in the company of TV personality KF Seetoh, whom I brought to meet Catherina and have a look at the making of soba in the restaurant.

Making soba in Shimbashi Soba RestaurantAt Shimbashi Soba is made in house by hand, guaranteeing that the resulting soba is the freshest and made with the best buckwheat. (30 July, 2017)

Catherina Hosoi pointing out the principles of good sobaCatherina Hosoi pointing out the principles of good soba (30 July, 2017)

Catherina HosoiCatherina Hosoi looks on as soba is freshly made at Shimbashi Soba Restaurant. (30 July, 2017)

Making Soba

Soba Master Yoshinori Shibazaki demonstrates the making of soba at Shimbashi Soba Restaurant in Singapore. Catherina Hosoi narrated the steps while I recorded the video.

On my first visit to Shimbashi Soba, Catherina ordered for me the Warigo Soba, which comprises five lovely lacquered bowls of chilled buckwheat noodles with five different toppings. Catherina's husband Hosoi-san ordered his usual plain buckwheat noodle.

Soba is usually eaten cold. Served on a sieve-like bamboo tray called zaru, the soba is dipped into a cold dipping sauce called soba tsuyu which comes in a small cup. This dipping sauce is made from a mixture of dashi, sweetened soya sauce and mirin. After eating the soba, you can also drink the balance dipping sauce by mixing it with some sobayu (蕎麦湯), which is the water that was used to cook the soba earlier.

Mori SobaMori Soba (盛り蕎麦) is the dish preferred by Catherina's husband, Mr Koichiro Hosoi when he visits Shimbashi Soba. (30 July, 2017)

Warigo SobaWarigo Soba (30 July, 2017)

Pouring the Sobayu to the Soba TsuyuThe Sobayu (water used to cook soba) is poured into the cup holding the balance Soba Tsuyu (dipping sauce). (30 July, 2017)

Lovely meal at Shimbashi Soba RestaurantCatherina and I enjoying a lovely meal with our friends at Shimbashi Soba Restaurant, including TV food personality KF Seetoh and Soba Master Yoshinori Shibazaki. (30 July, 2017)

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