Do you know the local gourmet dish that has been loved in Yamaguchi city for many, many years?
Since long before the concept of “B-class Gourmet” was even thought of, bari-soba has been eaten in the area. To find out more, I headed to Shuraikein, the place of its origins.
With an interesting signboard that looks like Son Goku (from Dragon Ball), the eatery is located by the national highway.
This is the where authentic bari-soba was born over 40 years ago. I head inside and…
The interior has a retro ambience. It may seem like any other Chinese restaurant, but it is far from average! I take a look at the menu posted on the wall, and spot the dish I came for!
Bari-soba is served in various sizes! Five minutes after ordering, this is what arrived on my table!
Da-dum! It’s a really hearty portion! So many vegetables have been put on top, you can’t even see the noodles. And this is the normal size.
Though its appearance resembles ankake (dishes topped with a thick starchy sauce), the dish is topped with a smooth chicken broth. The ingredients include cabbage, pork, shiitake mushroom, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, cloud ear mushroom, kamaboko (steamed fish paste), deep-fried kamaboko, squid, scallions… around 10 different ingredients. Believe it or not, for the large size bari-soba, they use a whole cabbage.
Contrary to its hearty appearance, the flavor is light, which makes the dish easy to eat. I push my way through the vegetables and keep eating… Finally the noodles appear! As they’re fried in chicken fat, at first they’re crispy, but you can also enjoy the process of them softening up, soaked in the broth. By the way, even though the dish is called “bari-soba” (‘bari’ is the sound for crispy in Japanese), the name didn’t come from the noodles being crispy. Apparently it was named with images of being energetic and doing one’s best (‘ganbaru’ = ‘persevere’, ‘do one’s best’).
As it’s the shop’s recommended way to eat it, I now add a little mixture of vinegar and soy sauce. The flavor is refreshing and delicious!
When Mr. Hisakazu Minamoto took over Shuraiken from his father, 40 years ago, he was 25.
“At the time, I didn’t want to take over the shop. However, my father was ill and there was no one else, so with this sense of duty I made my decision. My father used to make yakisoba… It’s been over 40 years since I started to deep-fry these noodles and make bari-soba. I’m confident making hearty portions!”
Mr. Miyamoto says he wants to continue doing his best at the shop until he’s 70, and then start offering bari-soba making classes. He says, ”I’d like everyone to be able to make bari-soba at home. It’s the way I want to make bari-soba known.”
We hope that Yamaguchi city’s soul-food is passed on down to the following generations, too!
Oidemase! Come to Yamaguchi
Founded over 66 years ago, the restaurant is the origin of bari-soba. The portions are surprisingly hearty, but it also offers smaller sizes for those who are not sure they can finish a large portion. If you visit Yamaguchi, do drop by!
Location: 1246-5 Ouchimihori, Yamaguchi city, Yamaguchi prefecture
Open: Tue-Fri 11:30-15:00 (Last orders at 14:45), Sat & Sun: 11:30-15:00 (Last orders at 14:45), 17:30-20:30
Closed: Mondays & every 3rd Tuesday
The Setouchi Finder Editors
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