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teuchi soba lunch at ippuku [Berkeley]


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Restaurants & Bars San Francisco Bay Area Berkeley Lunch

teuchi soba lunch at ippuku [Berkeley]

augustiner | | Jun 19, 2013 09:45 PM

i know the soba lunches are mentioned in the main ippuku thread, but since they have such limited availability, i thought i'd post about my lunch separately.

last saturday i joined two friends for lunch at ippuku to try the teuchi handmade soba, which is only available friday and saturday from 11AM until 2PM or until they run out (60 servings per day). i ordered the ten zaru soba, cold noodles on a bamboo tray with shrimp and vegetable tempura. one of my friends ordered the same and the other ordered the tororo soba, cold noodles with grated mountain yam and raw quail egg.

we also ordered a few appetizers: the hiya yakko soft cold tofu with minced pickled eggplant and bonito flakes, asparagus in a black sesame dressing, and a dashi maki, rolled omelet flavored with dashi.

this was only my third time trying freshly made soba. the first was in tokyo a few years ago, the second at NYC's soba koh a little more recently. i enjoyed both of those meals better than this one, but that is not to say that i didn't like these noodles. the noodles were toothsome and bouncy. the dipping sauce seemed nicely nuanced. the shrimp tempura had good flavor, unlike the anemic shrimp crusted in battle-armor fried batter common elsewhere. the veggie tempura consisted of kabocha squash, okra, a shishito pepper, eggplant, and a shiitake mushroom, accompanied by a light and fresh dipping sauce.

i tried a bite of my friend's tororo soba, and one bite is just enough for me. i could appreciate the contrast between the rather mucilaginous yam and raw egg with the firm bite of the noodles once, but i find that texture too challenging for a whole meal. just not my thing.

towards the end of the meal, they brought out a kettle of hot soba water, the water used to boil the noodles in. this starchy liquid is poured into the remainder of the dipping sauce and consumed like a soup or hot beverage. its very soothing.

the hiya yakko was a refreshing starter. good flavored tofu paired with the slight astringency of the minced eggplant and the smoky bonito flakes. very thin asparagus cut on the bias with black sesame sauce was nutty and tasty. the dashi maki was surprisingly pale in color, as if there was very little yolk. indeed it was less rich than other versions, and it was served hot with grated daikon. it was more savory than a lot of other versions, as well, much less sweet.

for various reasons unrelated to the quality of the food i ate, it's not likely that i'll make it back anytime soon for a repeat lunch, which is a shame because i thought it was a solid meal. i wish that the bay area shared the same passion for soba or even udon as it does for ramen. until then i look forward to the next time i can make it across the bay on a friday or saturday for more of ippuku's soba.