My first day on assignment with the Rough Guide in Tokyo presented me with the most bizarre dining experience of my life. Actually, it’s up there with most bizarre experiences of my life in general.
After meeting Rough Guide author, Simon Richmond earlier in the day and checking out some sights and eateries around Shinjuku, we headed to a restaurant in the Shinbashi area of Tokyo for dinner.
Walking through the rainy side streets of this brightly lit part of town, we entered a tiny restaurant – it all seemed normal enough. Yet despite the fact that Tokyo is often known for it’s oddities, not even in my wildest dreams could I have ever imagined what was in store for us behind that inconspicuous little door. Yes, this is the porthole where normality ends and hilarity ensues.
Once we were seated at our table, the owner of the restaurant, Mr. Kagaya, used a remote-controlled Ampanman doll to deliver our warm refresher towels. Upon ordering drinks, we were required to select the style in which we would like them delivered; Japanese, American, Chinese, English or Brazilian. We opted for ‘English style’, while the tables around us went for Brazilian and French. The ‘Brazilian style’ drinks were delivered by Mr. Kagaya dressed up as what appeared to be some kind of crustacean. ‘French style’ involved Mr. Kagaya creating on-the-spot portrait sketches of table members, while our ‘English style’ saw him use a Teddy Bear to carry the tray of novelty beer glasses to our table – the novelty being that one glass made a belching sound every time it was moved, and the other vibrated at such a rate when picked up that it was nearly impossible to drink from it without spraying beer around the room.
The restaurant offered three menu choices that, not surprisingly at this point, were hilarious and gave no indication of what food was involved with each choice. We ordered the “Hey master, you know what today I’m feeling free. Get me something ‘wow’ me, ‘bang’ me. You know what I’m talking about!” dinner set… and of course, the order had to be sung rather than spoken. Between fits of laughter, we ate a delicious meal of chicken, fish and vegetable dishes.
By the end of the meal, we’d long relinquished any sense of normal restaurant procedure, so when our bill was delivered in the cleavage of a Barbie doll and Mr. Kagaya donned a frog suit to bid us melodic farewell, I really shouldn’t have been surprised… but I was.
Absolutely check this place out if you’re in Tokyo! Directions can be found here.