As I am currently finding the images I captured for my other Thailand summer food posts, I thought I would whet your appetites with this beauty from when I petted the Greyhound again in Thong Lor…
The dish was called ‘Tokyo Soba Noodle’ and was made with freshly sliced celery, bacon, carrot, shredded chicken breast,and a few mushrooms thrown in for good measure. The noodles came served atop of a cradle of fresh iceberg lettuce leaves in a white bowl (a good restaurateur’s secret to drawing your focus to the food, and food only. But that is never a problem for me !)
Getting back to my meal (which by now, would have started to cool in the briskly blowing cold air from the AC vents) I could smell subtle hints of sesame oil and a little black pepper, mingling with the saliva-inducing scent of cooked bacon and wasted no time in serving myself a little portion of the understated yet glossy, golden brown noodles. I pronged a piece of celery and bacon and daintily wound a few noodles around my fork. Words cannot sufficiently express what happened in my head when I first tasted them, but they were good. Very, very good.
These noodles hail from Japan and are made of Buckwheat. (Soba is the Japanese term for Buckwheat.) They have a warm beige colour and a slightly meaty, toasted flavour. They are slightly thinner than spaghetti and are the traditional noodle of choice for the inhabitants of Tokyo…
Now the subtle meaty quality of the noodles combined with the bacon was a surefire win, but the astringent spritz from the celery along with the mellow coating of sesame and soya sauce created a rather unexpected yet profoundly perfect finish on the palate.
If I were to associate these flavours with a shape it would definitely be a sphere. Well rounded, perfectly balanced and a delightful cyclical metaphor for the ensuing acts of taking more bites and experiencing the unique flavours announce their presence in my mouth all over again.
FUN FACT: During the Tokugawa period (1603-late 186os) is said that the wealthy inhabitants of Edo (Tokyo) were suffering increasingly from Beri-Beri (deficiency in Thiamine) due to their high consumption of white rice. Buckwheat was soon discovered to be a rich source of Thiamine and was included as an integral part of their diet. Several cafes and street-side establishments mushroomed during this time to meet demands. They can be served cold or hot in a broth with a variety of toppings.
FUN FACT#2 :Buckwheat is an incredibly healthy grain which in no way related to wheat at all- it is in fact gluten free for those who are interested- and contains a phytochemical that strengthens capillary walls. The noodles contain all eight essential amino acids, including lysine which is a building block for all protein in the body and aids in calcium absorption!! Lysine is not present in wheat… so EAT YOUR SOBA TILL THE COWS COME HOME!
This dish is a seductive combination of simple ingredients yet an incredibly sophisticated set of flavours. It doesn’t leave you feeling heavy at all and can be comfortably finished by one person. It’s definitely one I would like to re-create at home this weekend.
I think the ratings are self explanatory … but here they are below, in case you don’t feel like a fill in the blanks exercise today…
Innovation: 5.5/5 (celery and bacon Tokyo style!!)
Historically proven health benefits: 5/5