Although Kobe has the image of a fashionable city with an international flavor, from that city also comes a B-grade gourmet dish popular with the Average Joe.
Sobameshi is a dish where Chinese style noodles and rice are fried together on a hot plate and seasoned with sauce.
It is said that the dish originated at an okonomiyaki shop. Apparently, cold rice from a customer’s lunch box was added together and fried with a yakisoba dish that was in the middle of being prepared.
Founded in 1957, Aomori, which is located in Nagata ward, Kobe city, is known for being the shop that created the original sobameshi.
Even if there is a sign up saying that the shop is closed for preparation, if you hear rhythmic metallic sounds and gentle voices, the shop is in business. Even for tourists, it’s an establishment that’s easy to enter.
Without any further waiting I order sobameshi – its preparation starts right away on the silvery hot plate.
Around one bowlful of rice is topped with a pile of noodles and then chop chop chopped with spatulas to cut and mix the ingredients together. Then a ladleful of bokkake is added.
Bokkake is a salty sweet mixture of stewed beef tendon and konnyaku. The special characteristic of the bokkake at this shop is that it’s chopped into a fine mince.
Plenty of cabbage is added, and the mixture is seasoned with sauce. Just the rhythmic sound of the spatulas hitting the metal hot plate gives you the promise of something delicious to come.
A fun characteristic of the shop is that you can sit around the large hot plate with regular customers. If the shop isn’t too crowded, aim to sit at the counter.
After putting some fruity, spicy sauce and green dried seaweed on top to finish, grab some sobameshi on your spatula and chow down while blowing on the hot noodles.
The noodles and rice scatter around in the mouth – it’s not quite fried rice nor is it fried noodles; without a doubt, this is sobameshi, a special dish loved in Kobe for over half a century.
As for what drinks go well together with sobameshi…
In the Nagata ward area, “Apple”, a non-fruit juice is quite popular, but for a beer-lover like me, it has to be a medium-size draft. Bon appetit.
Now then, although we just enjoyed Kobe sobameshi, for those who don’t have spare time on their sightseeing schedules, we will also introduce a sobameshi you can try out in the shopping district of Sannomiya.
The sobameshi of Nagata Tank-suji located in the restaurant area on the bottom floor of the shopping center is made by cutting the noodles so small that the pieces are about the size of rice grains. The sauce is wrapped all around the ingredients creating a shimmery finish.
After adding bokkake right before your eyes, the dish is ready. The beef tendon and konnyaku cubes are literally rolling around, and the broth flowing onto the hot plate makes a delicious sound.
If you love spicy food, I strongly recommend sprinkling on some special dorasauce!
In central Kobe you can try sobameshi at numerous different okonomiyaki shops. If you’ve only ever tried homemade or frozen sobameshi, do come and try authentic sobameshi eaten with spatulas!
Location: 4-8-6 Kubo-cho, Nagata ward, Kobe city, Hyogo prefecture
Open: 11:30-14:30 17:00-22:30
Location: San Plaza B1F-20, 1-8-1 Sannomiya-cho. Chuo ward, Kobe city, Hyogo prefecture
Closed: Irregular holidays (Usually closed on Tuesdays)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Madoka Hori
Madoka Hori / Photo-writer Entrepreneurial translator/writer living in Hyogo. As a licensed English tour guide, she occasionally takes tourists to beautiful destinations such as Kobe, Himeji, Okayama, Kyoto, and Osaka and her clients have never got lost so far. On Setouchi Finder, as one of the original team members, she enjoys taking photos and sharing her favorite hidden gems. Private Photo Blog http://riderv328.tumblr.com Twitter https://twitter.com/Riderv328
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