This is quite a hyper vivid and very interesting dream, though the symbolism is not apparent.
(We stayed in an old Japanese house in suburban Osaka recently, where there was a piano belonging to the airbnb host's sister. The room in this dream is directly taken from the sitting room of that house)
In this dream the sitting room has turned into a small noodle bar, with a set of Japanese style two fold curtains at one end. It looks like the kitchen is on the other side of the curtains, but one cannot be sure.
There is a U-shaped bar table inside and I am the only customer sitting directly facing the curtains. There is a middle aged Japanese hostess with rather non-descript features. She serves me a dish with a heavy blue coloured ceramic lid. When she lifts the lid of the dish off, I am brought to another place - the crab restaurant where we had our recent crab degustation in Kobe. The aroma is exactly as it is in my memory, and I immediately know this is my favourite dish from that degustation - the crab gratin.
In this dish, the ever slightly savoury crab is set against the creaminess of the sauce and the softness of the pasta. It has a slightly bronzed crust, as if the cheese there had decidedly taken on a more delicious character. I savour the aroma of this dish, and I can barely wait to eat it again.
The hostess bows to me and I take a single bite. As my tastebuds process the bite, the intense flavours rush into my soul and I feel a wave of immense pleasure. I come to realise that M is sitting at a bar stool on my left, with nothing in front of him, watching me eat. I put my chopsticks and stare at him as if he were an apparition, but he says nothing.
Suddenly a young man enters the noodle bar, though we did not hear the rustle of any door or curtain. He is perhaps 20, a university student? He asks the hostess for the menu and peruses it with much enthusiasm. He starts asking about the dishes, but with each and every dish M deflects the attention with rejections like the spinach is not in season right now, and we have run out of this type of fish. The boy does not give up and keeps asking after various items. After a while, M says look, the restaurant is pretty much closed, come back another day.
The student looks crestfallen and leaves. M also disappears behind the blue curtains into the kitchen and it is just me and the hostess left in the restaurant. She stares at me sullenly, as if she was wishing I would go as well.
I take another bite of the gratin, and it is just as delicious as the very first bite. I am totally absorbed into the crab gratin and wish it would never end.
The curtains open and at that moment I strain to see inside, but I cannot see anything. M comes out with a large bowl of noodles, and I feel myself think in the dream - he doesn't eat noodles! It is distinctly soba, there is no other noodle it could be. The bowl is pretty much bare, with just a few green leaves floating in the clear broth.
He sits down on my left, in the position where he was. He starts to eat the noodles wordlessly and I continue to eat my gratin but it no longer tastes the same. I am looking at my dish when suddenly, he deposits a single strand of soba onto my plate. It is coiled up perfectly as if someone has drawn it. The soba is so hot that there is an impossible amount of steam pouring off the single noodle, as if it was being boiled from below.
You should eat this. he says to me.
I contemplate the soba, the contrast between my dish and his dish so apparent. Mine is so decadent, rich and succulent. His is so clean and pared back, devoid of any excess. I poke the single noodle with my chopstick and it lets off a little jet of steam.
You know, I say to him very slowly and intently, we are not so good at changing direction once we have gone somewhere.
Then I wake up.