Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Soba for Breakfast?

When you were a child, did your parents always tell you that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day?" If you want to see what people on the go eat first thing in the morning, the best place to in Japan is the train station. In NYC, it will most likely be coffee and bagels or muffins. In Japan...well, let's just say that we would never have guessed that what we found would far and away be the most popular breakfast...

At about 6:30AM at Shinagawa station in Tokyo, we searched for a bakery to buy our breakfast. Bakeries are as ubiquitous in Japanese rail stations as hot dog vendors on NY street corners. But at this hour, no kissaten (coffee shops) or bakeries were found to be open at such an early hour. At first our sole choice seemed to be a convenience store selling onigiri, sandwiches, and juices. Not thrilled with the prospect, we decided to take one more look around. It was then that we spied a soba stand that was not only open for business, it was packed with early riser salarymen. Well, nothing beats a bowl of steaming hot soba noodles in cold morning! Sleepy eyed salarymen were busy slurping the soba, their concentration focused inside of their closely held bowl. We bought the coupons at the door, and waited at the table to be served. Service was quick, we wordlessly and happily slurped our order, and we were out the door on our way to our train in 5 minutes.

We had learned the salaryman's secret for starting the day...soba is the "breakfast of champions."

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