The $18 Salad at Soba Nippon

Here is a story.

Lisa, long ago, told me a tale of her mother and her going to lunch near her office. Her mother wanted to go somewhere with a waiter, so they stumbled into an Asian restaurant that served an $18 salad.

“An $18 salad!” declared Lisa. “That is outrageous!”

But her mother persisted. They both ordered one. Lisa was nervous.

Afterwards, Lisa contacted me and told me it was “the best salad ever.” Or something on that order. She loved that salad. She worshipped that salad. She spent nights quivering with sorrow and sadness that she’d never eat that salad again.

Ok, I’m exaggerating. But she did speak very highly of that salad. And yesterday, I decided to meet Lisa for lunch near her office.

“Well,” she said, “we can go to this sandwich place or go to this salad place. They’re not fancy but they’re warm and they have seating.”

I processed this information and responded thusly: “What about that salad place you went to with your mom?”

“ADAM!” screamed Lisa. “THOSE SALADS COST $18!!!”

There was a pause.

“Well, I know,” I said. “That is very expensive. But I run an internationally renowned food website called The Amateur Gourmet and I’m sure my readers would love to hear about this $18 salad. Plus, grandma gave me Hannukah money and I can treat.”

She processed this information.

“Well,” she said, but appeared nervous. What if I take him there and he doesn’t like the salad, her thoughts seemed to read.

But there we went. It was called Soba Nippon. Here’s a picture:

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In we went and got our menus. There, smack in the middle on the left side, was the $18 salad. There was $18 salad with tofu and $18 salad with chicken. Lisa ordered the former and I ordered the latter.

The waitress brought us “free” Miso soup. (Well, “free” except that the salad cost $18, so it evened out.)

Here is Lisa enjoying her soup:

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I enjoyed the soup too, it being -8000 degrees yesterday. And the bowl was deceptive—it looked like it held just a little soup, but there was lots and lots of soup in it.

“Save room for your $18 salad,” warned Lisa. (Ok, she didn’t really say that—but I’m building dramatic tension.)

Then a large cymbal crash and our bowls were taken away and a gong sounded and our $18 salads were placed down before us.

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Looks terrific, no? But worth $18?

I tasted. It was terrific. The dressing had a gingery mustardy kick. The balance of flavors was awesome: carrots, lettuce, chicken, some black dried substance and then beneath it all soba noodles. The soba noodles are made in-house and are what Soba Nippon is famous for.

“So? So?” begged Lisa.

“Well,” I said, “I am really enjoying this salad.”

I was really enjoying this salad.

I kept eating and eating as the time wiled away. So did she.

“You have to finish it,” she pushed. “It’s an $18 salad.”

So I kept eating untnil it was gone. Then the check came. Both salads cost–GASP!–$18.

“Lisa,” I said confidentially, “you and I are friends, right?”

“Yes,” she said nervously.

“So I can be honest with you?”

“Yes,” she said, thoughtfully. “Yes you can.”

“I really enjyoed that salad–” I started.

“But it’s not worth $18,” she finished.

“No, I don’t think it is.”

A pause for reflection.

“Are you sad you came here?” she sniffled.

“No, no!” I said, “I am really glad I came here! I mean I really enjoyed my salad and this whole experience. I’ll never forget it. I just don’t think I’ll come here again.”

Lisa nodded. “I agree, Adam,” she said. “No salad is worth $18.”

And that sentiment, my friends, concludes our narrative.

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