Located in West Oakland, Soba Ichi restaurant has carved out a niche for itself that brings people from all over the Bay Area. Everyday, they make their handmade soba noodles from scratch using traditional methods. It's the only eatery outside of Japan to do this, and the resulting dishes on offer are worth the drive, bike, or BART from anywhere in the Bay.
I found out about the place from a good friend who started working there and was learning how to make noodles from their soba master, Koichi Ishii. After trying their food myself, I was ready to be a regular patron. Then covid hit and they were forced to close their doors to the public.
As the pandemic forced us to shelter in place, restaurants and bars were especially hard hit. Soba Ichi adapted to a take-out only model for some time, and I thought there was something I could do to help, even if it was in a small way. I proposed the idea of making a short film to the owner, Washino Shinichi, and he was game.
| The Art of Soba still frames
I spent a couple of days filming the making of their signature noodles with the intent of making an observational style documentary, unconcerned with runtime or audience, and locked into a single bird's-eye perspective. It was really just to document what I thought of as a noteworthy craft being practiced in obscurity, far from its inception.
In addition to the short film (which clocks in at a not-so-short 17-minutes), I edited a 30-second commercial for Soba Ichi to post on social, letting people know that they were still open for business, just in a different capacity.
Thankfully, they're now back to business as usual, serving amazing soba dishes to packed crowds of hungry foodies. I hope you enjoy the fruits of our labor, and if you're in the area, you should definitely try Soba Ichi yourself. In the meantime, may these videos tide you over.
The Art of Soba - Full Film (17-minutes)
Soba Ichi - Web Commercial (30-seconds)
Mackenzie Mathis – Directing, cinematography, editing, color grading
Koichi Ishii – Soba master
Washino Shinichim – Soba Ichi owner
Marcia Ong – Camera assistant
Miya Saito – Production assistant
Cooper Glosenger – Production assistant
Brittany Edwards – Production assistant
Back to Top