It wasn’t on the menu, but when the waitress learned that I had been hiking around Japan, she told me that I could order soba if I wanted to. That took me by surprise, and I knew immediately that I would return often to Aji Sushi.

Going to a Japanese restaurant had been, after all, a sad attempt to revive the memories of that trip that already seemed like someone else’s trip. They served me the buckwheat noodles over a small straw-mat, with a bit of sauce on the side. The wood of the chopsticks was smooth. I dipped the noodles into the dark brown sauce (Mentsuyu; somewhat like soy sauce, but not quite). The light, coming in shafts through the window, was not unlike the light through paper screens in the traditional restaurants in the countryside of Japan. Tasting the simple flavour of the soba I was transported back. With every bite of noodles I could feel tatami under my seat, an old iron teapot hanging from a hook, and the soft Japanese language whistling on the neighbouring tables. I turned to look at the rice paddies and found the streets of Edinburgh. I looked down at the empty plate.

–Did you like it, sir? – The young waitress was leaning over me with a smile.

-Excuse me? – I asked, still coming back to myself. – Yes, yes. I liked it a lot! It was just like being back.

Pablo Fernández Velasco