Soba is the Japanese name for buckwheat. It is synonymous with a type of thin noodle made from buckwheat flour, and in Japan can refer to any thin noodle. The noodle has a dark brownish gray color that comes from the buckwheat. Soba noodles are served either chilled with a dipping sauce, or in hot broth as a noodle soup. It takes three months for buckwheat to be ready for harvest, so it can be harvested four times a year, mainly in spring, summer, and autumn. In Japan, buckwheat is produced mainly in Hokkaido. Soba that is made with newly harvested buckwheat is called “shin-soba”. It is sweeter and more flavorful than regular soba. Udon noodles – the relative to the Soba is similar to spaghetti. It can be round or squared and made from wheat or corn flour.
Some establishments, especially cheaper and more casual ones, may serve both soba and udon as they are often served in a similar manner. Soba is the traditional noodle of choice for the people of Tokyo.