Yakisaba Somen: A Nagahama Favorite

When it comes to unique dishes, Shiga has plenty to offer. Among them, the famous yakisaba somen holds a special place in the hearts of Nagahama locals. This delicacy consists of somen noodles simmered in a rich broth and topped with a succulent piece of marinated mackerel. The marriage of the soft noodles and the umami-rich fish creates a symphony of flavors that is hard to resist. If you ever find yourself in Nagahama, be sure to indulge in this local favorite cuisine. 


Yakisaba Somen

Nagahama’s Favorite Dish

When it comes to mackerel or saba in Japanese, the best come from the Wakasa region in Kansai. From Wakasa, fresh mackerel was carried into Kyoto along the Saba Kaido. Cities like Tsuruga and Nagahamam, which are close to Wakasa, would also partake of those mackerel. Nagahama even had a unique tradition where women who recently married farmers would receive fresh mackerel.  Even today, yakisaba somen remains the most popular dish during the Hikiyama Festival in April– continuing the tradition of being Nagahama’s favorite dish.  

Nagahama Station. It can snow a lot in winter!

Supermarkets in Nagahama sometimes sell Yakisaba somen, but several restaurants serve it too. 


Eating Yakisaba Somen

Yakisaba somen is very similar to the very popular nishin soba of Kyoto. It is a dish of cold fish and noodles — a winning combination in itself. The dish is served as a portion of noodles with a big piece of mackerel on top. Mackerel can have a pretty strong flavor, but this dish is pleasantly not overly fishy. Layers of soy sauce and mirin help mellow the flavor of the mackle. 

The noodles are light brown because they are simmered with the mackerel broth. (They use the same broth that they used for mackerel)

The mackerel is so soft that you can even eat the bones
Yakisaba Somen
Each restaurant serves its own unique version

The flavor of yakisaba somen is quite thick. This is surprising as many traditional dishes in Kansai are typically very mild. I feel it is closer to ramen!

Many restaurants offer set meals with a side of saba zushi. Saba zushi is a popular dish in north Kansai that’s perfect for satisfying a big appetite.

yakisaba somen and saba zushi set meal
Saba zushi and yakisaba somen set. It is excellent!

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