For months I’ve been wanting to try Soba Ichi and their famous homemade soba noodles.
It’s the sister restaurant of Berkeley’s favorite yakitori spot, Ippuku, that opened during summer of 2018. Located in industrial West Oakland, the zen ambiance instantly transports you to Japan. Soba noodles are a skill of hard labor and difficult to make since buckwheat flour can be quite tricky to work with. Even though their specialty is soba noodles, their menu has a plethora of other delicious dishes showcasing traditional Japanese cuisine.
While the average Westerner might not enjoy this, I love the simplicity of homemade tofu dressed with fresh scallions, young ginger, and soy sauce. A great cold appetizer to start off with.
Tender almost preserved like herring was braised in a sweet and salty soy glaze. So much umami, definitely get this.
Not your typical gyoza that have the nice crust on the bottom but these boiled dumplings were pretty damn tasty. Stuffed with duck and chicken, the dumplings were tossed in a slightly spicy vinegar sauce that cut through the richness of the filling.
At Soba Ichi, they have zaru soba (cold soba) and hot soba in broth. They also have two types of soba noodles where jyuwari soba uses 100% buckwheat flour whereas nihachi soba uses 80% buckwheat flour and 20% wheat flour. Of course, we had to try both types of homemade noodles to see the difference.
The kake soba had the nihachi soba (80% buckwheat flour and 20% wheat flour) in a delicate warming broth. The simple garnishes of fresh scallions and mitsuba only enhanced the already subtle yet flavorful broth. A side of crispy vegetable and shrimp tempura is always a great accompaniment.
The jyuwari soba (100% buckwheat flour), served cold, comes with a dipping sauce with grated daikon and wasabi. The texture was much firmer and had more of a bite compared to the nihachi soba. I definitely enjoyed both types of soba and would recommend trying each.
I would call this more of a large onigiri than a musubi but I freakin’ loved it. The duck miso paste had an intensely rich flavor with a few grains of puffed rice on top which added nice texture.
Mountain yam, a common ingredient used in Asian cuisine, has a mild flavor with a slightly floury texture and these fries were a nice side dish to go along our various sobas.
Black sesame gelato has that delicious mellow nutty flavor with just a hint of bitterness. I didn’t know what to expect from the buckwheat tea mousse but it was actually really delectable.
From the welcoming service and atmosphere to the well crafted Japanese cuisine, Soba Ichi is not to be missed. My rating is a solid 8-8.5/10.