The first time I tried zaru soba or cold soba noodles was on an airplane heading to Tokyo. I was 15 and tt was my first trip to a country which I’d grow to love. I was travelling with my sister, younger brother and father, to visit my mother who was in Japan for a one-year study tour.
During the in-flight dinner service, we were each given a tray which had a bowl of green noodles (which I later learnt was soba), a bottle of sauce labeled ‘noodle sauce’ (duh), a small sachet of wasabi and a small empty bowl containing a packet of small pieces of dried seaweed and slices of spring onions. Thankfully, there were no quail eggs in sight.
My siblings and I had no idea what we were to do with this concoction. My father, who sat in the aisle across from us, pointed at the different bowls on our tray and mimed some actions, which none of us could decipher. He then took out a pen and started scribbling on a paper napkin. He reached across the aisle to pass the napkin to us, and we saw that he had scribbled instructions including drawings for how to eat cold soba! I wish I’d kept that napkin, his instructions were hilarious.
However, since I no longer have it, here’s a How-to video for those of you who’re never tried cold soba – The Right Way to Eat Cold Soba Noodles.