Craftsmen of Shimane

[Matsumoto Soba Restaurant] Authentic Izumo soba tradition passed down through generations

~ Restaurant name and reputation kept for 200 years; passing it on to the future ~


Matsumoto Soba Restaurant Keiichi Abe

Izumo soba, one of Japan's three major soba (buckwheat) noodle styles. It was a favorite food of the feudal lord in Matsue castle. Its traditional flavor has been passed down through the ages in a corner of a building in Matsue.

We interviewed Mr. Abe of Matsumoto Soba Restaurant, which has taken over the historic shop that once closed and is popular as an authentic Izumo soba restaurant and a popular tourist attraction.

History of Matsumoto Soba

What made you engage in soba making?
I was originally born into a family that had been running a soba restaurant for two generations.
My mother passed away when I graduated from high school, leading to the closure of my parents’ shop. However, I kept the hobby in making soba and exploring soba restaurants.
On one occasion, I heard about the story of the opening of a soba restaurant in Matsue used the drama set from NHK's morning drama 'Dandan'. At that time, I was thinking of running a soba restaurant after retirement. Coincidently the owner asked me "Why don't you try opening a soba restaurant?", so I accepted the offer and that's how I started this restaurant.
Tell us the history of Matsumoto Soba Restaurant.
Lord Fumai Matsudaira who reigned the domain of Matsue is known as a tea ceremony lover, but he was also a soba lover.
As soba was traditionally considered as commoner’s food, it wasn’t typical for noble lords to have such cuisine. However, in Matsue, when the lord went for activities like falcon hunting, a traditional light course meal with soba noodles called soba kaiseki was customarily served along with tea at the rest area.
With the abolition of feudal domains abolished and establishment of prefectures, the rest area disappeared. However, I leant from the previous owner of this soba restaurant ‘Matsumoto’, the son of the person who used to make soba at the rest area carried on the tradition, opened a new restaurant under the name of ‘Matsumoto’.
Although it was once closed, but the owner of Isshiki-an, who was trained at Matsumoto Soba Restaurant at the time, revived it and I took over the business.

Behind the scenes of the revival

What kind of drama set was it?
Matsue City bought the drama set of the soba restaurant that appeared in the 2008 morning drama 'Dandan', which was set in Matsue City, to revitalize the area.
In order for taking over the shop that existed from more than 100 years ago
There was still a lot of pressure to take over the name and the reputation of a restaurant with a long history. At first, it was a kind of burden on my shoulders, and I was worried if the patrons from the original restaurant would be satisfied.
I received comments such as "You are keeping the same flavor" or "It's delicious," but also, "The dashi stock is different."
I sometimes experimented on changing the amount of dashi and seasonings; but now having established my own way, I think it's important not to deviate from it.
When my customer said "It's delicious!" after taking a bite, I felt that what I had done was right and extremely happy.
Commitments to soba making
Every morning, I handmade soba dough and noodles. I make them by hand every morning, because I can put my heart and soul into it.
So, thankfully, if the soba noodles for the day are sold out, I may close early.
Since we don’t shake off the dusting flour from noodles, it makes our soba-yu (soba cooking water) more flavorful.
Also, I adjust the cooking time depending on the menu or the condition of soba noodles of the day.

Authentic Izumo soba and the future

The history of Izumo soba
Izumo soba is popular because it is associated with Izumo Taisha Shrine, but it originated in the Matsue clan, which ruled Izumo. So, I definitely wish people try Izumo soba in Matsue as well. Also, the flavor of dashi is different between Matsue and Izumo.
Izumo’s is slightly sweet, while Matsue’s is somewhat darker and drier.
Future goals.
Izumo soba is nationally famous for its 'wariko soba', but I would like more people to know about the warm 'kama-age soba' that has been passed down since the Edo period.