A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year Eve's Dinner

The day sort of creeps up on us and is soon here without having made any plans. When my wife asks if I have any ideas I suggest we go downtown, walk around with the people and just "wing it" with no reservations. I enjoy doing things with no real plan allowing fate to dictate the sequence of events. Having no other recourse but to stay home and eat left-overs from Christmas, she's all for it. As we drive around, the streets and sidewalks are pretty void of any activity. Doing a slow drive-by of the restaurants reveals a lot of empty tables. I think this just another sign of the struggling economy. My wife suggests that people are staying home rather than going out. Around the block we drive and on a back street there stands a Japanese restaurant. "Hey, we've never had Japanese food before, want to try it?" She's for it.

Inside there are no other customers. We have the place to ourselves. We place our orders - seafood tempura for me, lemon chicken tempura for her and the waiter asks about drinks. My wife selects a glass of Merlot from their wine list and I stick to the tea. The waiter leaves, I begin looking around and notice on the wine list several Japanese beers. Always one to try foreign brews, when the waiter returns with her wine I ask for a beer. She sips her wine and makes a face...not good. "I should have known being in a Japanese restaurant." I look at the list to see which winery it came from. "Scout. Ever hear of that one?" We live in the wine country but this is new to us. I tell her it was from some boy scouts earning their merit badge in wine making. My beer arrives and he pours half of it into a mug. People, don't pour my beer! There's an art to it. I let it rest. I pour the remainder in and hoist my glass to a new year stopping short of a drink. There, on the opposite rim, is a set of lip marks staring at me! I look closely and a matching set resides where I just about placed my lips. I am inspecting the mug looking for just one clear unfouled piece of glass when the waiter returns with our appetizer. "Um, I am having a issue with this glass" I mention. I don't even have to point out the offending areas as he readily sees them. Apologizing, he says he'll go get another. My wife says he'll probably drink it. He returns with another bottle and mug and I quickly stop him short of pouring saying I'll do it myself. This mug looks clean yet I remark to my wife, he probably wiped it with his apron. With that thought in my head, I drink the beer from the bottle.

We hear from the other side of the partition some people enter the restaurant. "Good evening. We have reservations for five." Lady, I don't think reservations are necessary here. They have the whole place to decide where the five of them will sit. I now realize that I forgot my camera to document the evening with. But I do have my new cellphone with camera and press it into action. (I know now it's limitations as none of the evening low-light photos came out very well.) Our food arrives and like the tea and appetizer, it is lukewarm. Maybe that is how the Japanese eat their food. What do we know? My wife's lemon chicken she says is quite good. I think it is the strong flavored lemon sauce you dip it in that is its saving grace. My seafood tempura is okay but sort of bland. Maybe this is another Japanese trait. Their not into flavor that much.

We finish our meals, leave the party of five to their fate and step outside in the cold crisp air. It feels invigorating but ohhhh, there is a desperate need to walk off this meal. We walk past the neighboring Thai restaurant noticing quite a few tables occupied. "Gee, maybe we should have eaten here". I notice the cloth table covers. I tell her I don't think that would have been a good idea. Having knocked over my bottle of beer as I did,  it would have been a bit more of a mess to enjoy our dinner by. Our walk reveals a couple Italian restaurants we had overlooked while driving, and we try our best from saying "we should of, could of". Still, most all of the places have vacant tables except for a tiny little bistro tucked off into an alleyway, and two other high-end hoity-toity places which are packed. We drive home to recover, neither of us making it to midnight.

Next year there will be plans made.


  1. Your Japanese dinner takes a good picture even if it doesn't taste all that great.

    I managed to get a can of Japanese beer from our local off licence a few years ago. Saporo I think it was call - unremarkable stuff but the can was completely indestructable (there I was impressed)

  2. Yes Sandy, Sapporo was it. Thus when I spilt part of it, no great loss. Perhaps if they had built their planes out of those beer cans, they may have stood a better chance in the war. Good though they did not.

  3. I am glad you took a risk. You win some, you lose some. Have you got your eyes peeled for next year?

  4. I'm sorry to hear you had such a dismal experience with your first visit to a Japanese restaurant. We eat a lot of Japanese food here at the Slow RPM world headquarters and find it to be extremely satisfying, healthy and of course, hot! It goes without saying, the beer should be poured by you, icy cold. Often, the beer is brewed under licence and looses it's authenticity. Asahi is a good brew if you want to try an alternative.

    Perhaps restaurants should just not open their doors during the Christmas/New Year break.That way, the staff could have a good rest and be ready to give us great service during the rest of the year?



  5. Cute story!
    The last 3 years my boyfriend and I have stayed in and had our own private little dinner. We were in Belgium the first two of those 3 years and grilled a variety of meats, veggies and seafood on a stone! Great fun! You can read about it if you like at http://creativetraveling.blogspot.com/2009/01/europe-in-30-days-let-eating-begin.html
    Happy New Year!


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