Slurp in a Happy New Year with soba, a traditional Japanese noodle dish. Made from buckwheat noodles and often served in a hot broth or cool with a dipping sauce, New Year's toshikoshi soba (年越しそば) or year-crossing soba is said to represent longevity. People eat toshikoshi soba on December 31st to ensure good health in the coming year.
New Year's Soba from Flickr cc Jessica Spengler
Soba restaurants are extremely busy on New Year's Eve. Despite the special opening hours and long lines, eating soba makes for a delicious end to the year! Browse below for some traditional spots to enjoy toshikoshi soba in Tokyo and Kyoto on December 31st.
Open on New Year's Eve from 11:30~23:30. This restaurant was established in 1880, and guests are immersed in the atmosphere of dining in an old Japanese home. Enjoy a traditional new year experience and forget the hustle and bustle of the city.
Open on New Year's Eve from 11:00~19:00. Established in 1465, this veteran soba restaurant was once the official soba supplier to the Imperial Family and will take you back in time. The buckwheat noodles have a pliant texture. Try their tanuki soba (soba topped with bits of deep-fried tempura batter).
Open on New Year's Eve from Lunch: 11:00~14:30 and Dinner: 17:30~22:30. A large signboard outside marks this delicious soba restaurant. See the chefs making soba in the first-floor kitchen. When ordering you can choose the thickness of your noodles to your liking. The restaurant's signature dish, duck soba, uses a broth infused with the taste of roasted duck.
New Year's Eve hours run from 10:30~21:30. This soba restaurant was founded in 1860. The house specialty is nishin soba, buckwheat noodles topped with a preserved herring. Nishin soba has since become synonymous with Kyoto. On the second floor, you can enjoy your meal while watching the gentle flow of the Kamogawa River.
Soba for the new year by Lauren Shannon
If you are not in Japan to welcome in the new year, try your skills at making soba at home with this easy recipe from The Japan Center. Or, for more advanced home cooks, make and cut your own fresh soba noodles with this step-by-step how-to page.