First and foremost, the noodles in yakisoba are not soba. Just get over it and you’ll be fine. I struggled with this for quite some time, then I did some research and came to accept it as a convention. The world has bigger problems.
We used to get yakisoba at this little Japanese place downtown when we lived in New York. The music was usually horrible, but it was blocks from our offices and the people there were great. It was the restaurant we picked to help support after September 11 (2001, when the area was pretty well deserted), and we tried to eat there at least once a week. This proved to be an easy task, as the yakisoba was simple and reliable. So simple and reliable that when we moved, we had to replicate it.
You have to be careful when shopping for your noodles, as many of them are not vegan. And as for the little spice packets that come with them? We toss ’em. Aside from the MSG, terms like “spice mix” and “flavor” just creep me out. Bragg’s and chili paste do the trick, and when you’ve got so many vegetables in there, the combination can do anything “flavor” can.
Our vegetable mix is slivered garlic, carrot, celery, bean sprouts, and some baby bok choy and spring onions we got from the farmers market. We also used Butler Soy Curls to flesh it out, so to speak. I soaked the Soy Curls while we were chopping vegetables and cooked them up first, in the Butler seasoning. Once they were browned I added the Bragg’s and chili paste, along with the vegetables, saving the green parts of the spring onions, the bean sprouts, and the tops of the baby bok choy until the very end. The noodles are pretty well cooked so you just need to heat them through, so I add them between the vegetable shifts.
And I’m sharing a random Portland photo with y’all. We passed this yesterday. Yes, it’s a muffin tied to a sign. I’ll leave you to figure out how and why it came to be—I have my theories, including the slight possibility that it’s art.