November 4th, 2017

yoshitoshi: yorimasa

The local

At the end of my street, many years ago, was a Greek greasy spoon called Tasty's. The chef was Sri Lankan, but no matter- great souvlaki, great gyros, great baklava, and pretty neat breakfasts as well. But the place was large and the tables were taken by middle-aged Korean women drinking tea for hours at a time and TO real estate taxes are hideous. The owners sold it in 2003 and then a year later it was sold again to a Korean businessman, who optimistically opened a soul food restaurant instead. For which there is little call in Koreaville. I think it shuttered for a while, maybe reopened as something else, but I paid it little heed since it wasn't the Greek food that I remembered so fondly.

Eventually- 2012, 2013?- it became an izakayaish place, with heart-stopping prices and empty tables. Then another change of hands, but the decor exactly the same, and just as empty whenever I passed by. I wondered how it stayed open at all. But because S offered to take me out to dinner on Wednesday, and it's almost within walking distance when I'm not crippled, there we went. And at 7 were the only people in the place. The food had suddenly become cheap but proved quite respectable- not the sushi that the out-of-date restaurant guides spoke of, but kara-age chicken and gyoza and so on, and serving a quite excellent Pinot Noir.

Friday night I thought to go back there to check what the vintage was, and arrived at 8 after my acupuncture. The place was three-quarters full and rocking. A bunch of college age guys were playing the pinball machines at the front, mixed groups of five or six were at the tables, and as I drank at my bar stool I watched a steady procession of parties come in and go out in increasing numbers as the hour wore on. It's a nightspot that doesn't get started until nine.

The denizens were almost all Asian wakamono, and for that reason much quieter than westerners of the same age. Even whooping and yelling over the pinball, their decibels were not on the level of the average white frat boy's air raid siren voice. This is why it's so relaxing to dine in my neighbourhood. Not exactly a quiet place to read a book, but good enough for one's phone. Though I mostly watched one of the four televisions, all sans sound, which was playing a subtitled Japanese film of the sillier variety, Masked Pervert; because the Japanese gameshow's titles went too fast for me to read.