Japanese Company Develops Device That Rates the Deliciousness of Soba Noodles

A Nagano-based company recently announced that it had created the world’s first noodle taste analyzer, a machine that can scientifically estimate the tastiness of soba noodles within seconds.

Japan’s Nagano Prefecture is well-known for its soba noodles, a popular variety made with buckwheat flour. To honor the prefecture’s soba noodle production, local tool-maker Yatsurugigiken Inc. teamed up with Shinshu University’s Faculty of Agriculture to create the world’s first noodle deliciousness analyzer. The high-tech device applies ultraviolet LED-induced fluorescence to around 2 grams of buckwheat flour and measures the levels of phospholipids, proteins, and other taste-related substances. Within seconds, flavor ratings in four different categories (taste, aroma, greenness, freshness) are displayed on an LED display.

Photo: Fidel Fernando/Unsplash

“Millers have relied on skilled workers’ insights for flavor assessment, but I wanted to evaluate soba’s flavor in numerical form and show the noodle’s quality in an objective fashion,” said Naoya Shimizu, president of Yatsurugigiken, told Japanese newspaper, Asahi.

Taste is a very subjective thing, and Yatsurugigiken admits that the taste of noodles can be impacted by how they are boiled and prepared, but the company says that in terms of buckwheat flour quality, its analyzer delivers objective results. The Nagano-based company has already secured a patent for its ingenious device and is confident that restaurant operators, millers, agricultural cooperatives and other entities will be interested in buying it.

Photo: Yatsurugigiken Inc.

Apparently, Yatsurugigiken started working with Shinshu University about seven years ago, trying to build a machine that could sort out buckwheat seeds based on their quality. However, plans were scrapped because building a commercial version proved difficult, so interest shifted toward analyzing the flavor and quality of buckwheat flour.

In the coming months, Yatsurugigiken plans to hold repeated rounds of sensory tests to prove the correlation between the results of its noodle deliciousness analyzer and how highly people rate the taste and aroma of various soba noodles. The company claims that its device could be of immense use to buckwheat farmers as it can help them prove the quality of their product.

Photo: Yatsurugigiken Inc.

“Showing objective values will help rectify soba’s price, which differs among producing areas,” Naoya Shimizu said. “That will provide encouragement for farmers plagued by cheaper market prices and lead to an improved value of soba.”

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