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Soba Mozem

An excellent spot for soba in a restored farmhouse.


163-1 Nibotanosawa, Sado-shi,
Niigata, Japan

What to order

soba “risotto,” zaru soba

Sado is an island in Niigata Prefecture located off the coast, about one hour on the hydrofoil ferry from the city of Niigata. There, in the village of Niibotanosawa, you’ll find Soba Mozem, an excellent soba restaurant in a restored farmhouse. Kazuo Saito, the chef and owner, makes juwari—100 percent buckwheat—soba by hand. After honing his skills in Tokyo for ten years, he decided to move back to his hometown in Sado with his family. Saito sources most of his ingredients from the island, and he and his wife, Yoshiko, often go foraging for mushrooms, wild herbs, grapes, juniper berries, and currants.

When I visited, Yoshiko gave me a taste of her currant jam while Saito busied himself in the kitchen making our lunch. We ate soba “risotto” which didn’t involve rice but was rather fresh buckwheat groats cooked in fishy ago dashi. The dish was accompanied by genza, a local red fish pan-fried in olive oil and served with a subtly medicinal tasting fuki, a rhubarb-like plant, that had been pickled in miso. We also had zaru soba, plain soba with a dashi dipping sauce, and scallions for garnish. It was soboku, “pure and simple,” which is how I like to eat soba.