Aside from sushi, ramen is the first thing that would come to mind when you think of Japanese food. In the past years there has been a rise in the popularity of ramen in the country, with countless stores specializing in it popping up everywhere. While it has proved to be a favorite among Filipinos, Japanese cuisine has more to offer. In fact, there are other kinds of noodles from the Land of the Rising Sun that you should- and can- try: soba and udon.
Soba and udon noodles are made from buckwheat and wheat flours, which gives it its distinct taste and color. Soba noodles are thinner, almost similar to the size of the usual spaghetti noodles we are familiar with. Udon is one of the thicker noodles originating from Japan. The noodles are either served as a hot or a cold dish which makes it the perfect meal for any kind of weather. When served hot, it comes in a warm, flavorful broth made from bonito- a kind of tuna fish- that is quite different from the usual soups that the Filipino palate are accustomed to. As a cold dish, it is served along with a dipping sauce usually made from dashi (Japanese stock), mirin (a type of rice wine), and other ingredients.
Where can you find soba and udon noodles in this time of global ramen renaissance, you ask? There may be thousands of stores in Japan that specialize in serving these noodles since it is an integral part of everyday Japanese meals. There is one in particular that has stood the test of time and has successfully widened its reach to other countries: Nadai Fujisoba.
Nadai Fujisoba was established in 1966, when they opened their first store in Shibuya, Japan. This remains as their flagship store more than 50 years later. After opening many and similarly successful stores in the bustling areas of Tokyo like Asakusa, Ueno Akihabara, Roppongi, Shinjuku, and Ikebukuro, Nadai Fujisoba opened their first overseas store in 2014. Today, they have more than 160 restaurants open in Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, and here in the Philippines.
Starting out as a family business, the restaurant was first built to cater to on-the-go businessmen during the economic boom of Japan. While the company flourished with the support of those businessmen, more communities have also developed a liking for their signature dishes. Nadai Fujisoba opened its first store in the Philippines only two years ago and already it has gained traction among Pinoy foodies.
Yoshiaki Kudo, the General Manager of Nadai Fujisoba in the Philippines, explains what made them want to open stores here:
“Filipinos like Japanese food, like ramen. We want to show real Japanese taste… real Japanese soba.”
According to Kudo, they make their noodles everyday with ingredients shipped straight from Japan to ensure its quality. And to bring the authentic taste of soba to Filipinos, they train their staff here in the traditional way of preparing these meals. As a family business, their trademark recipe has been passed on from the original founder and chef of their flagship store, who is now 82 years old, down to his descendants who made it their lives’ work to bring this tradition to other parts of the world.
Aside from soba and udon noodles, the restaurant also offers a range of other Japanese food that Filipinos already love. They have a wide range of Donburi rice bowls like Katsu Don, Gyudon, and Ebi Tendon. There are plenty of options for tempura as well: Ebi Ten, Chikuwan Ten, Ika Ten, and Beni Shoga, among others. Nadai Fujisoba also offers desserts that you shouldn’t miss out on like Sobacha pudding and Macha ice cream.
What makes Nadai Fujisoba even more special is that the prices of their food are surprisingly affordable for its kind. The price of their dishes is within the range of Php 180 to Php 320, which is cheaper than the menus served at popular ramen houses.
You can visit Nadai Fujisoba for a taste of authentic soba and udon noodles as well as other Japanese meals at their stores in Bonifacio High Street, SM Megamall, SM Aura Premier, SM Mall of Asia, and SM North EDSA.