The loveliest and the most authentic way to present soba is on a zaru, the Japanese bamboo tray sold at Japanese markets and craft stores. The trays are inexpensive and elegant to have around. If you like, add flavors like grated ginger or orange zest to the dipping sauce.
Resources: Katagiri is a great source of high-quality soba and other Japanese ingredients (tel: 212-755-3566 or www.katagiri.com).
2. Transfer the soba to a tray lined with paper towels and drain until dry. Place in a bowl and refrigerate, covered, until cool. If the noodles clump together, rinse and dry again.
3. In a small saucepan, combine the dashi, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and mirin and bring to a simmer. Add the bonito flakes and remove from the heat. After 5 minutes, strain the sauce into a serving bowl, cool, and chill.
4. To serve, divide the soba among Japanese bamboo baskets or rustic ceramic bowls, and sprinkle each portion with toasted nori. Serve the garnishes and individual small bowls of the dipping sauce on the side. To eat, either grab a tangle of soba with chopsticks and dunk it in the dipping sauce bowl, or spoon some dipping sauce over your portion.
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