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Soba

Soba is a grain crop known as 'buckwheat' in English. It is best known for the noodles that it is made into, also known as soba. Soba is one of those words for which there was no suitable Chinese character available, only the compound word qiao3mai4. As a result, the word soba is written in Chinese characters. While seldom seen, this sometimes appears on menus, as on the following menu outside an upmarket restaurant in Tokyo.


Ran-uchi kamo-jiru seiro soba
Ran-uchi duck-soup seiro soba

For the most part, however, soba is written in hiragana, as in the following sign.


Yaki-soba.
Fried noodles.

A Google search revealed the following pattern of usage (August 2003):

Soba

Form
No. of occurrences
1,790,000
159,000
125,000

Yaki-soba

Form
No. of occurrences
121,000
59,300
35,600
13,100
2,360
2,190
264

See also yaki-niku, yaki-tori.

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