Soba Ichi: Handmade Soba and Japanese City Pop


Soba Ichi: Handmade Soba and Japanese City Pop

January 04, 2019

By Brennan Ko

Go to West Oakland and you will see scrap yards, warehouses, and the remnants of railroad lines that still criss cross the streets. Although just a mile from Downtown, the influx of tech investment and sanitization of the streets feels far away. For the curious, West Oakland still holds an air of mystery - it’s a place of change and potential. Perhaps the best example of that potential is the restaurant Soba Ichi.


At its core, Soba Ichi is a an artisan soba restaurant. If you’ve never had soba, just know that its a traditional Japanese noodle made from buckwheat that is commonly eaten cold. The dish is thousands of years old and like any good noodle, takes the skill of talented chefs to create. At Soba Ichi all of the soba is created daily by hand and at limited quantities. If you want to grab an order for lunch you better arrive early - the restaurant is only open from 11 am - 4 pm.

The restaurant is a small part of a collective of co-located businesses, including an artisan lumber mill and Den Sake, the smallest sake brewery in the United States. There is a real feel of community in the air and the businesses collaborate both with themselves and other community members - like the pop-up serving okonomiyaki in the patio on the day of our broadcast. If fresh soba noodles aren’t your thing there are delicious alternatives like fresh made tempura. Although it’s a lunch menu there is a beer and sake list. We recommend trying the Den Sake. It tastes like it was bottled from a natural sake spring - if such things existed.

We were happy to work with Soba Ichi to co-host an exclusive Japanese music special broadcast for Japanese Culture Day. We set up right in the corner of the restaurant and played to a never ending crowd of hungry customers, with the talents of DJ Patrick, Infinite Jess, and Yobkiss on record selecting duties. It was three hours of feasting and celebrating featuring the delicacies of Japan with a sampling of its most cherished musical genres. Good food, good people, and City Pop. What more can you ask for?

Go over to our broadcasts archive to see the sets in their entirety.

Words and photos by Brennan Ko-Madden