Soba Ichi became a destination restaurant in Oakland almost as soon as it opened last June. Conceived by the team behind Berkeley izakaya hotspot Ippuku, Soba Ichi gained instant fame for its traditional teuchi (hand-cut) Japanese soba, which it makes fresh daily with buckwheat milled on site. The noodles — so springy, chewy and nutty — are unlike any you can find at other restaurants in the area, especially its 100% buckwheat version, jyuwari, of which it makes a limited quantity per day. In January, Soba Ichi transitioned from lunch service to dinner hours only, and this summer, it saw an opportunity to share the space during the day with local food maker friends.
Starting in May, Soba Ichi opened its serene courtyard on Saturdays to a handful of vendors serving up tasty eats. Hungry daytime diners can satisfy their appetites, mixing and matching snacks like okonomiyaki, Taiwanese dumplings, Asian-inspired tacos and breakfast sandwiches on fluffy brioche buns. Called Local Artisanal Craft Food Pop-ups, the events manage to attract crowds despite Soba Ichi mostly advertising by word of mouth and on Instagram.
This weekend, Soba Ichi’s courtyard will host the biggest of the Saturday events, bringing together 11 food vendors, including Okkon, Always Aloha Shave Ice Co., Good to Eat Dumplings, Tacos Sincero, Aburaya, Brekkie Sandos, GT Bakes BBQ, Native, Natural & Beyond, Tori Man, Roots & Crafts Tea Roasters and Thank Que Grill. The event is part of the larger Fourth Annual West Oakland Artisans Festival, an annual affair presented by O2 Artisans Aggregate, the management team behind a network of artisans at the large West Oakland eco-industrial park, which along with Soba Ichi, includes architectural designers, woodworkers and local food and craft makers. (One of the O2AA founders is Paul Discoe, a wood craftsman who has his design studio on-site, and is also a partner and designer for Ippuku and Soba Ichi.)
Joining the food vendors will be artisans and merchants who have studios at the O2AA space or in the neighborhood, many of whom will open their studios to the public that day. There will also be music and performances from East Bay Collective, DJ Mizu and the International Capoeira Angola Foundation. Festivities take place on the entire O2AA property and will go from noon to 5 p.m.; admission is free.
If you miss Saturday’s event, take heart that the Local Artisanal Craft Food Pop-ups will continue every Saturday at Soba Ichi’s courtyard through October. And, if you time it right — and make evening reservations in advance — you can eat lunch at the pop-up and stick around to have dinner at Soba Ichi (highly recommended) for a doubly delicious day.