A few weeks ago a teacher Jeff works with invited us to go with him to a soba party. Japanese people are crazy about soba. It's a thin, buckwheat noodle, served either hot or cold. The "soba party" was in nearby Ashikaga in a small restaurant that is opened only for special occasions such as these. It was fantastic! We got to watch a "soba master" make the actual noodles... very fascinating. He rolled the dough into a very thin round shape. Then, using a variety of wooden poles, he gradually worked the dough into a long rectangular shape of many thin layers. And finally he chopped the dough into perfect soba noodles.
We chose to eat the most common (and inexpensive) dish... the cold soba. The noodles are served on a tray. Sauce is served in a separate bowl. You add chopped up green onion and wasabi to the sauce, dip your noodles in, and sluuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrp! After, they bring you a hot teapot of the water the noodles were cooked in. You add it to your remaining sauce, and drink back your "soba soup."
It was a real treat. While we ate our soba, we got stared at by many small, wrinkly, curious, elderly Japanese people. And in turn, we got to watch three women clad in kimono playing the koto, a traditional Japanese instrument. Good fun!