Tsumetai Niku Soba

For years, I had dreamt of going to Japan. Over the years, my interest in Japanese culture and food only grew and I just knew that I would have to visit Japan some day. That day eventually came, and in the months leading up to the trip, I collated restaurant recommendations like a magpie. One of these recommendations included a standing soba restaurant in Tokyo, where I had the most delicious cold dipping noodles dish; Tsumetai Niku Soba. When I returned from my trip, I vowed to try and recreate the dish that I had enjoyed so much in Japan.

The dish comprises of two bowls. In one bowl, you get your cold noodles and all the toppings generously piled on top; in the other bowl a soy-dipping sauce with a slick of fragrant chilli oil over the top. Pick up a clump of your noodles and toppings and dunk them into the dipping sauce to get a deliciously refreshing meal. Ideal for summertime.

Here is my cheat’s way to create something that closely resembles what I ate in Japan:


For the men-tsuyu dipping sauce:
  • 100ml water
  • ½ sachet dashi powder
  • 3-4 tbsp soy sauce (depending on personal taste)
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 4 ice cubes to cool the dipping sauce afterwards

For the fragrant chilli oil:
  1. Start by making your men-tsuyu. Add the water, dashi powder, soy sauce, mirin and sugar to a small saucepan and heat gently until all the dashi powder and sugar have dissolved. Pour this dipping sauce into a bowl or measuring jug. Add the ice cubes and stir. Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill.
  2. Prep your sesame seeds, spring onion and slivers of seaweed. I find that using scissors is the easiest way to create the nori slivers. You can also grate some daikon (white radish) to add to the sauce, but I don't feel it adds anything to the dish because it gets masked by the fragrant chilli oil.
  3. Here's where I cheat, and use a cupboard staple to give my dish all the flavour. Mix your Lao Gan Ma Chilli Oil, sesame oil and cooked vegetable oil in a bowl and set aside. (I keep leftover deep-fat-frying oil aside to use for cooking, and to dress noodles and vegetables)
  4. Add the sliced beef to a saucepan of boiling water. Bring it back up to the boil and then pull the beef slices out, retaining the water, and set aside. The thin slices mean that it shouldn't take very long.
  5. Using the same beefy water (adding more water if required), bring to the boil and add your choice of noodles and cook to packet instructions. Stir regularly and taste a noodle or two as you go to ensure that you do not overcook them. While they are cooking, prepare a very large bowl of cold water to cool your noodles quickly (with ice cubes if possible).
  6. Once cooked, drain your noodles and rinse quickly under cold running water. Dunk the noodles into the bowl of water and move them around to cool the noodles as quickly as possible and to remove any surface starch on the noodles (which will make them clump). You may find that you need to change the water a number of times to thoroughly cool them. Leave the noodles in the water while you get ready to serve up.
  7. Have two large bowls (for your noodles) and two medium-sized bowls (for your dipping sauce) ready. Pour the chilled dipping sauce into the medium-sized bowls and then add the fragrant chilli oil on top.
  8. Drain the noodles (at this point, I like to give the noodles a light squeeze to remove more water so that my dipping sauce does not get diluted) and portion into your large bowls. Pile on your toppings - spring onions, lots of nori slivers, sesame seeds and beef.

Now you are ready to serve. Grab, dip, eat. Enjoy!

This recipe uses a lot of toasted sesame seeds. Rather than purchasing ready-toasted seeds, I prefer to buy them raw and toast them myself. Simply heat them gently in a pan, or if you're lazy, like me, spread your sesame seeds over a baking sheet and put into a pre-heated oven (keeping a very close eye on them) at 200C for about 7 minutes. Toasted seeds can be kept in an airtight container for a few weeks, but I prefer to toast them fresh each time, as they can lose their aroma over time.

Additional Information:
Number of Portions:
Cooking Time:
<40 Min