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Soba with dashi / soy sauce (no meat / mirin) 2015/3/13 03:35
Hello everyone,

I'm travelling to Japan soon and would dearly love to be able to have simple meals of soba / udon, without a meat / mirin / sake based broth, though fish is fine.

I understand that even the dipping sauces like tare / tentsuyu that may be served with cold zaru soba will contain mirin, while a simple broth for e.g. kake soba will contain the same.

I wanted to ask if you think it would be possible for me to go into a restaurant and:

* e.g. ask for cold soba noodles with simply soya sauce, rather than the usual sauce
* ask for hot soba noodles in a simple dashi broth / miso soup-style broth (i.e. the basic broth before mirin has been added)

I guess these types of requests are unusual? I don't want to make anybody uncomfortable while I am there, and so am keen to source opinions on this point.

Thank you very much for your help in advance.
by Jim (guest)  

Re: Soba with dashi / soy sauce (no meat / mirin) 2015/3/13 11:48
- Straight soy sauce would be too salty. Soba dip sauce is made from cooking together dashi, mirin and soy sauce.
- Dashi broth ALONE would not have any salt in it. And it is not that mirin is just "mixed in," but the dashi is heated up and mirin is put in and cooked "off" until the alcohol flies off in vapors. So it is not that they just mix it in to make the soup. That's what gives the soup the depth. And I don't think any soba restaurant will be willing to provide miso soup :(

Overall, it sounds like you wouldn't really be able to enjoy soba with its original dip/soup to their best flavors :(
by ... (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Soba with dashi / soy sauce (no meat / mirin) 2015/3/13 12:23
* e.g. ask for cold soba noodles with simply soya sauce, rather than the usual sauce

Yes, I know a lot of vegetarians that have result to this method. Just get a soba/udon dish where the noodles are served separate from the broth and flavor with the shoyu on the table. No special ordering required.

* ask for hot soba noodles in a simple dashi broth / miso soup-style broth (i.e. the basic broth before mirin has been added)

That is probably not possible. You can try asking for hot, brothless noodles and do the shoyu thing, but it would probably be too much to ask to have a special soup made. Mirin is already part of the "basic broth", and miso soup isn't served in soba restaurants (plus it usually contains mirin).
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

Re: Soba with dashi / soy sauce (no meat / mirin) 2015/3/13 13:40
Many soba restaurants serve "soba-yu" - hot water in which soba noodle was boiled. It may sounds horrible, but actually it contains a lot of minerals from buckwheat and good flavour of soba (backwheat) grains. In traditional soba places, people who ordered dip type soba use soba-yu, to delute the soba sauce and drink it.

You can bring your soy sauce and ask for hot (or cold) boiled soba without any sauce (called 'soba-tsuyu') and ask for soba-yu instead. You can put soy sauce over the noodle, then pour the soba-yu to make your own "soup" or "sauce" and enjoy the soba noodle.
by . (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Soba with dashi / soy sauce (no meat / mirin) 2015/3/13 14:38
Uh, I can't quite agree with the last poster.

In traditional soba places, people who ordered dip type soba eat everything, AND THEN when they're finished, they drink soba-yu, and if the soba-yu is too blunt, they would ADD a little bit of their left-over soba sauce to season it. If they're soba sauce is too salty (which usually is), they simply don't consume too much of it. You don't add soba-yu to the sauce just because the sauce is too salty.

Anyway, my short answer is that I agree with yllwsmrf: You should order what's on the menu and just consume whatever you can that you get on your table.

Soba chefs usually take pride in their home-made tsuyu (soba sauce). They'd probably not like first-timers requesting not to have them.

On the other hand, you can try visiting a soba place when they're not busy and politely ask if they can accept special requests for your "diet restrictions." If you're a traveller, you can perhaps ask at your accomodation to see if the concierge can recommend a soba place that is more flexible.

But you should clarify why you need to avoid mirin. A lot of Japanese people do avoid mirin for various health reasons, but they'd use an alternative to make it taste good enough. You need to make sure that you can accept that alternative.

All in all, the easiest thing to do is to just take what you get.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

Slightly off-topic 2015/3/13 14:58
It's me again.

Slightly off-topic, but the concept of Macrobiotics avoid using mirin, sugar and meat. You might have luck asking at one of the Macrobiotic restaurants, although many do not serve soba at all. But you can still have a chance to enjoy a lot of traditional Japanese dishes there. This is a list of some Macrobi restaurants in Greater Tokyo.

http://matome.naver.jp/odai/2127080566637098901
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Soba with dashi / soy sauce (no meat / mirin) 2015/3/13 22:02
Thanks for the replies. Isn't soba-tsuyu the sauce? How would i simply ask for hot soba? I can then simply flavour with some shoyu - good enough for me!

I'm trying to avoid mirin for religious reasons - it sounds like I may have to largely avoid soba / udon on the whole, which is what it is...

I will look into macrobiotics too, very interesting.

If anyone has other suggestions, then great, but thank you for all the help provided so far in any case.
by Jim (guest) rate this post as useful

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