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   Living as I do in the very heart of what some consider to be the highest concentration of bars, restaurants, and pubs in Japan, I was anxious about the prospect of working full-time at a university that was located dead center in an expansive, unremitting culinary desert. 

   Three months into my new gig, the only place I have found that is within reasonable walking distance is a sad little diner by the name of Hifumi Shokudô (一二三食堂). I'll get around to writing about Hifumi later. 

   So, it is not an exaggeration to say I was delighted to discover that a new râmen shop had opened up down the street. From the outside, it looked promising: a modern building with large windows and white-washed walls. The râmen shop stood out among the rusting shutters of neighboring establishments that had long given up the ghost.

   As soon as class got out, I hurried off campus where I bumped into two of my students. They were on their way to a takoyaki joint in the neighborhood.

   "You wanna join us," one of them asked.

   "For takoyaki?" I said, screwing my face. 

   "They also have o-konomiyaki," she replied.

   "Maybe next time. Today, I've got a date with a bowl of râmen!"

   Since we were heading in the same direction, we continued to walk together, shooting the breeze and talking about past boyfriends and girlfriends along the way.

   Everything about the day had been perfect up to that point. For one, it was our first sunny day in lord knows how long. In the morning I had gotten a lot of writing and translation done in the morning, and my classes had gone well. If only I had joined the two of them for lunch, the day would have continued to stay right on course.

   But no, I had to go to that goddamn râmen shop.

   One of the rules I try to maintain when eating out is to avoid restaurants that have just gone into business. Better to wait a few months until they've ironed out the kinks, trained the staff, and got the food up to standard. I can't tell you how many times I've broken that rule, though.

   Not surprisingly, my impetuosity was rewarded once again with a dismal dining experience. It would be a waste of both of our time to go into how the food tasted or where the service could have been better. It's not even worthwhile tell you the name of the place.

   At least they had ice cold beer. 

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Reader Comments (2)

The gyouza looks a bit burnt at the edges. The menu beneath the dishes makes me think that this is part of a chain of ramen shops.

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBill

It's not a chain. Just a young man in over his head. Lucky for him, though, it's hard to go wrong with a ramen shop. Next to hair salons, they're one of the most profitable business to run in Japan.

As for the gyôza, I wish they had been burnt because the shells were rubbery.

June 22, 2011 | Registered CommenterAonghas Crowe

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