I think that one of the best meals I’ve ever had was some simple noodles in a little town in Japan.
One chilly, gray day last fall, while visiting the San’in region, Mas and I took a JR sightseeing train into the mountains of “inner Izumo” to view the fall colors. We had seen a soba restaurant advertised in the JR pamphlet, so on the way back down we got off in Miinohara for lunch. We found ourselves in a little unmanned station, more like a bus stop than anything else, with nothing around but farmhouses. It was raining and cold, we were incredibly hungry, and the next train wouldn’t leave for another couple of hours. We thought maybe we’d just made a huge mistake!
But we walked down the road and around the corner and there was the restaurant – Okuizumo Gen-an (奥出雲玄庵). It was warm inside, and the waitress was welcoming. The people who run the restaurant make the day’s noodles each morning from buckwheat they grow on their farm. The menu offers only two choices – we had the “tororo soba” (buckwheat noodles served with a kind of grated yam) followed by a nourishing bowl of sobayu, the water in which the noodles were cooked.
We were warmed by the good food and simple hospitality.