: Classifieds : MyJU :
Stories: Gourmet
Browse Gourmet Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

Gabusoka Soba - much more than a mouthful

By: Kotoko Chinen

Date Posted: 1999-04-16

There's such a large number of Okinawan Soba restaurants on the island that many Okinawans have developed their own ways of sorting out which eatery serves the best dishes in town. So, if you're thinking about trying some Okinawan Soba (noodles) but don't know where to go, today is your lucky day, 'cause I'm going to give you some tips on how to find the good ones.

First, for some Okinawans, the restaurant's appearance is vitally important, and how it looks - both inside and out - is a measure of that establishment's excellence.

"Older is better" some say, because at restaurants where discolored hand-written menus and posters on the wall can be found, there's also the likelihood of finding a grandpa or grandma in the kitchen who have been proudly serving their own Soba for decades. Not to mention that their restaurant has stood the test of time, seeing competitors fall by the wayside.

Second, others believe word of mouth is the best policy. Soba has been a staple diet for townspeople since it first appeared during the middle of Meiji Period (1868-1912), a time when advertising agencies were still a ways off. And that's much as its been since then, although recent trends have seen some owners placing ads. So, as is the case today with many Soba restaurants, owners would never advertise believing that word of mouth was the best way to attract new business.

My way to find a good Soba-ya is very simple: I screen each soba restaurant by the number of taxi drivers eating there during their lunch hour. Since they can't spend too much time eating lunch, the short waiting time and the taste matches their needs. So, if you see taxicabs in the parking lots, the place is good to go.

I grew up in Nago City, said to be the birthplace of Okinawan Soba and famous for its excellence, and like many Nagoites, I'm fussy about my Soba. And in Nago, there are some Soba-ya that even satisfy the fussiest Soba locals. One of those is the "Gabusoka Soba" restaurant.

This particular restaurant was opened 35 years ago in an area once called "Gabusoka," hence the name "Gabusoka Soba." Until about 25 years ago, most Okinawan Soba consisted mainly of light soup, with a few slices of specially seasoned pork, and minced green onion tossed on top of the steaming broth. Then Gabusoka restaurant introduced " So-ki Soba", or pork rib Soba-noodles, and with it brought new business. The rich taste of So-ki soba, with its tasty soup, big chunks of pork, generous slices of fish sausage, red ginger, and minced green onion, soon gained in popularity.

"The majority of our customers at that time were manual laborers who worked at construction sites all day long," said Yukari Tabata, a representative of the Gabusoka-Soba restaurant chain. "I think the rich taste of soup and the So-ki (specially seasoned pork) of So-ki Soba suited their palates."

There are differing opinions about who the originator of Soki-Soba was. Some books say that Gabusoka Soba-ya is where it was first served; others say Marutakka Soba-ya, a rival Soba eatery in Nago, was the one. "We really don't know which of us was the first," said Tabata, laughing.

One thing's for sure, Soki-Soba has certainly became one of the major representatives of Okinawan Soba. When people asked where they could get good tasty Soba, I used to tell them "head North," but not any more. Gabusoka Soba used to be found in only two locations in Nago, but has now extended its reach and with six locations. The newest location can be found in Uema, Okinawa City, about 5-10 minutes from Gate 2 Street off Kadena Air Base.

Gabusoka restaurants offer four types of soba, available in three different sizes - extra large, large, and small. Prices range from ・450-・700. It opens 7 days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Directions: Take Route 58 from Naha and head towards Kadena. Enter Route 22 and head for Okinawa City. Pass Book Box and A&W hamburger shop(on your left) and when you reach Lawson Convenience Store, slow down and look for Nisseki Gas Station(on your right.) Gabusoka Soba, Koza Branch is located right next to it.

Browse Gourmet Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

weather currency health and beauty restaurants Yellowpages JU Blog

OkistyleOkistyleJU Facebook

Go to advertising PDF?||?|o?L?qAE?|?}?OA?N?ga`OkiStyle?A??q?qM?oeu^?I`??N?gX?<eth>?<ETH>?ni^?IWanted!!Golden Kings ScheduleOkiNightSeeker