Express Japanese Cold Soba Noodles (Zaru Soba)

Summer is officially here in Tokyo. What about the part of the world you are living at? During the hot summers, I love to explore all sorts of cold dishes. This cold soba noodles is a super easy version if you are able to get hold of a bottle of ready-made men-tsuyu (Japanese noodle soup base. I usually stock up when I visit Japanese supermarkets while living in USA, they always come in handy!).

Soba is thin noodles made from buckwheat and is one of the most popular form of noodles in Japan. It was originated back in the Edo period. The content of buckwheat in soba noodles typically ranges from 40% to 100%. Juwari Soba (十割そば) is made of 100% buckwheat flour.  The most famous soba in Japan is Shinshu soba (信州そば) which is originated from Shinshu, an old province which is now Nagano prefecture. There are many different types and variations of soba. Some dishes with the name “soba” (i.e. Yakisoba, Chuka-soba, Okinawa soba, etc) do not even contain any buckwheat in it!

Soba can be eaten either cold or hot. In the hot summers in Japan, it is very common to have cold soba. Zaru Soba (ざるそば) is cold soba where you enjoy it by dipping the noodles into tsuyu (a noodle soup base) together with some finely chopped leek/scallions and a small hint of wasabi. The Japanese word “zaru” refers to bamboo-made strainer baskets and cold soba noodles were served with them during the Edo period, therefore given the name “zaru soba”.

Buckwheat is said to be a very healthy kind of carbohydrates. It is a low glycemic food and is gluten-free. It contains complex carbohydrates, that the human body requires longer time to digest, and higher content of fiber which will less likely to spike blood sugar level than consuming other carbs like pasta or white rice. It also has other very good nutrients values too, for example, it contains a lot of minerals, protein, potassium, B vitamins, and all nine amino acids. Some even said you can loose weight over having soba!

Soba Noodles2 Servings
[SOUP BASE] Tsuyu (3x concentrated) ⅓ Cup / 80ml
[SOUP BASE] Cold Water⅔ Cup / 160ml
Leek / Scallions½ Strand / 2 Strands
WasabiTo Taste
(Optional) Shredded Dried Nori SeaweedA Sprinkle


  1. Boil water in a pot. When the water comes to a boil, cook soba noodles under medium heat until soft. When noodles are cooked, take the noodles out of the pot, rinse with cold water, and place them in a pot of ice water to cool down. Then set aside.
  2. While the noodles are cooking finely chop the leek/scallions.
  3. Mix [SOUP BASE] ingredients.
  4. When ready to serve, take the soba noodles out of the cold water and serve on a plate. Enjoy the noodles by dipping the noodles into the tsuyu noodle soup base with some finely chopped leek/scallions and small hint of wasabi.
  5. DŌZO!

NOTE: It is very common in Japan to enjoy a cup of beverage after the soba meal. Reserve the water that the soba noodles was boiled in (called sobayu そば湯) and pour some into what’s remained in the tsuyu (soba dipping soup base).

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