The Edo Tokyo Soba School kitchen in the Tokyo suburb of Tateishi (2005)
One of the classes that I took in Japan that had the most long-term impact on my cooking was definitely a soba noodle class at the Edo Tokyo Soba School (江戸東京そばの会) in the Tokyo suburb of Tateishi. The school had a machine that cracked the buckwheat and they milled the flour for the noodles fresh on-site. The method they taught for making soba dough in large bowls along with how to roll and cut it by hand I still use to this day – for pretty much any kind of fresh wheat noodles or pasta I make at home. The lesson in how much a difference fresh, high quality ingredients makes in all cooking also stuck with me from this day. I’ve never had better soba since. Above is the kitchen where all the noodles were cooked, on the table are cups of freshly grated daikon radish and small baskets in which the noodles were served. To the left you see a giant pot filled with rapidly boiling water, topped with a huge wooden lid and equipped with a large hood – which cooked the noodles quickly and evenly with plenty of room to separate without sticking. Around the room are various other implements, ladles, draining baskets and wooden handled pans used for other parts of the process.