I first tasted soba noodles in Chicago, looking for vegetarian options at a sushi restaurant. Served chilled, with green onions and a savory dipping sauce, soba has a stronger flavor than plain old wheat or rice pasta.
They’re made with buckwheat, a grain that’s actually not related to wheat at all— hooray the accuracy of the English language! And while most of my searches for gluten-free pasta have just been looking for good non-wheat noodles, with soba, I wanted to find a specific kind of noodle. Of course, most commercially-made soba sold at grocery stores contains wheat.
Here, I’m giving you reviews of two gluten-free buckwheat noodles, plus a suggestion for another type of pasta— millet, which makes a similar type of pasta to soba. King Soba and Eden Foods both have gluten-free buckwheat noodles on the market, and are both pretty tasty. However, I need to talk about price. Eden’s soba noodles run around $8, while King Soba’s run around $4. On the low end, the millet noodles were around $1.50. Sure, buying commercial gluten-free products can be expensive, but $8 for a pack of noodles? That, and Eden’s CEO’s stance on birth control makes me balk at the idea of giving that company more money.
The millet noodles were a happy accident that I found at my local Chinese grocery store. Millet, a totally under-appreciated grain, makes a great pasta— it has a stronger flavor than rice noodles and a distinctive color and flavor. I found millet noodles tucked in among the rice noodles— easy to find, if you have the time. (And yes, millet noodles are generally Chinese, while soba is Japanese.)
King Soba’s sweet potato and buckwheat noodles have a lovely smooth texture and mild buckwheaty taste. The sweet potato must be the ingredient to give the pasta a more typical feel. Also, I love how the noodles are packaged: the servings are bundled up (three servings per bag.) I picked these up at Horrock’s in Lansing.
Eden’s 100 percent buckwheat noodles have a good distinctive flavor, earthy and grainy, just as I remembered. Make sure to put some oil on them, so they don’t stick together. I picked mine up at Zerbo’s in Livonia.
Generally, I like soba noodles served cool, with sesame oil and tamari sauce. Also, any veggies you have pair well with them too.