Turning Japanese

Ma Fat and I went out for dinner, last night, with our old College Friends, Bob and Sue. Sue FaceBook-messaged the other day suggesting we all get together and celebrate our Birthdays. We all are Januarians, except Bob, whose Birthday is not until February. Tonight, Bob was an honorary Januarian.

We chose a local Japanese Steakhouse for this evening’s gustatory adventure — Godzilla of Tokyo, Home of the Teriyaki Monster. The reviews all proclaim that this is THE place to go for fine Japanese cuisine, in this corner of Fat City.

Our seats were along two of the sides of a large table with a massive grill in the center. The other four seats at our table were soon occupied by Karl and Kurt and their wives, Magda and Cyd.

Once we had all been comfortably seated, George, our mercurial Asian waiter took our orders for drinks. Ma Fat and I, being teetotalers, ordered water and tea. George brought blue and red martinis, wine and saki to the others. He followed these with bowls of clear miso soup and individual garden salads.

Chatter soon filled the airwaves around our table. Niceties were exchanged across the table between our two disparate groups. But mostly, Ma Fat and I focussed on our friends, Sue and Bob.

We soon found ourselves joined by a young man dressed in red. He introduced himself as Kwa Zi Moto, our table chef. He demonstrated his digital dexterity by twirling his spatula in the air while juggling his razor sharp knives. His hands faltered and his tools fell helter-skelter to the grill, just missing the path to the floor by mere inches. His face turned crimson (tough trick for an Asian guy) as he quickly gathered up his instruments and tried again. We all clapped as if amazed by his agility, all the while hoping none of us would be involved in an injurious accident.

At last, Kwa Zi stopped flashing his forks and knives and took our food orders. Being the Birthday Boy, I ordered a Heaping Helping of Wickedly Garlicky Shrimp. Ma Fat went with the Monstrous Mound of Tuna Teriyaki. Steak and chicken and scallops and more shrimp rounded out our requests. And then we waited and resumed our intercourse (go ahead, look it up!).

Boom, bang, clunk clattered dishes as Kwa Zi returned with the raw ingredients for our dinners. To remind us of his role as table-entertainment, Kwa Zi squirted oil around on the now hot grill top. With a flick of his Bic, he set the oily pool ablaze. The heat from the inferno was hot enough to singe my eyebrows and the hairs on my arms. I tamped the smoldering fringe on my forearms with my dampened napkin — glad I was drinking water rather than alcohol.

The perils of our peculiar predicament increased as Kwa Zi began to spread our food out and about the fiery cooktop. Karl, who had tippled several multi-colored martinis, suddenly demanded of Kwa Zi, “hit me with one of those”, while pointing at the pile of blazing shrimp sitting before him on the grill. Without a moment’s hesitation, our stalwart, young chef flipped the flaming flesh into the air and arced it onto a trajectory for Karl’s widely gaping yap. A direct hit!

To continue this demonstration of his aerial prowess, Kwa Zi turned his back to Karl and flipped a second shrimp over his shoulder and into Karl’s waiting mouth. Not to be outshone by Karl, Kurt opened his mouth and pointed to it. Kwa Zi quickly complied with an amazing triple flip through the air, landing atop the grill and dropping a shrimp into Kurt’s watery maw. Amazing, but enough.

Kwa Zi danced across the grill and finally dismounted to the floor. With a few quick flicks of his knives he sliced the meats into bite-sized pieces and began distributing them to our plates. The meats were joined by grilled veggies and fried rice. The cooking and show were over and the dining was ready to begin.

Despite our chef’s shocking antics, our food was quite good. The Wickedly Garlicky Shrimp was plentiful but not nearly wickedly garlicky enough. I tasted Ma Fat’s Teriyaki Tuna — toothsome! The others around the table expressed their gusto through a variety of belches, burps, slurps, slobbers and yummy-sounds. The meal was good.

Our Japanese dining diversion drew to a close all too quickly. As we said our goodbyes, Ma Fat and I were already thinking of when we could return to this little corner of Japan.

Happy Birthday, all you Januarians!

[Screen fades to black accompanied by a jaunty little ditty]

No sex, no drugs, no wine, no women
No fun, no sin, no you, no wonder it’s dark
Everyone around me is a total stranger
Everyone avoids me like a cyclone Ranger

That’s why I’m turning Japanese
I think I’m turning Japanese
I really think so
Turning Japanese
I think I’m turning Japanese
I really think so
I’m turning Japanese
I think I’m turning Japanese
I really think so
Turning Japanese
I think I’m turning Japanese
I really think so

~The Vapors, 1980

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