(Thank you to all who have helped prepare this meal.)
Dinner was zaru soba, tofu miso and stir fry beef.
We stepped into the shop, not knowing what to order. I spoke no Japanese and neither does he. We waited in line and watched what everyone else before us ordered.
It was one of those soba fast food shops. There were no seats or stools. Just side tables where customers could put their bowl of cold or hot soup soba and quickly slurp their noodles down loudly before heading off to their next errand.
"Zarusoba?" I asked timidly, signalling two with my fingers. The Japanese noodle seller understood and nodded. But I saw the seller frying some shredded vegetables in a tempura batter and wanted some of those as well. How do I order? I whispered to him.
"I want that one. That looks good. Can you order it for me?"
Gallantly he walked up to the counter, attracted the noodle seller's attention and pointed to the fried round vegetable fritter and pointed to the noodle.
The seller nodded. He smiled. He understood we wanted one of those with our zarusoba. He said something in Japanese. We didn't understand. We just smiled back and nodded.
It was time to pay. We held up some Yen, the cashier took some and returned some change. We took our zarusobas and found a corner to stand.
The Japanese fella in a suit beside me slurped his noodle down in record time, three minutes. I was trying to savour mine.
We have since nicknamed the shop "Tempat makan berdiri" (Place where you eat standing.) The shop probably had a nice poetic name. But neither of us could read Japanese. So we made up our own names for the places we ate. Another favourite place was the fried-mussels-with-rice place we nicknamed Kedai makan Makcik Salmah (Aunt Salma's eating place). Its a fast food place, with a counter and cashier, not unlike Macdonalds or Burger King. On the menu was different types of battered seafood with rice, with or without miso.
I don't think my grandmother would approve of me eating while standing up. And my mum wouldn't be impressed to hear me slurping my noodles loudly.
But hey, in Japan, we do what the Japanese do.
Honey, when can we go eat at Tempat makan berdiri?
Farah, important elements of good tempura batter are:
1. Ice cold water (Mariko literally put ice in the water before measuring it out.)
2.Whisking (Use those round metal whisk to incorporate air into your batter.)
Also make sure that your oil is really hot. Good luck