Last night saw your intrepid reporter at a bar dangerously close to where he used to work (I noticed all of the shelving is still up...weren't we supposed to be out of there four months ago?). After several rounds of what midtown Manhattan tries to pass off as a happy hour, my former colleagues suggested we go to a somewhat hidden Japanese restaurant. Now, this mystic eatery was something of a myth where I used to work, a place few had been to and practically no one spoke of. So, I was not surprised when my pal, after we'd walked a few blocks, herded us toward a simple, nondescript door sandwiched between a hotel and a flashy fast food joint.
ME: Wait. Wait, this is it?
ME: This is a restaurant?
ME (thinking): Do we need a password?
I can honestly say I didn't know what to expect. I wouldn't have been shocked if all three of us were promptly gutted with sushi knives and left to bleed out in an alley. However, the small room into which we were led was as understated as the door and it was filled with Japanese men in business attire chatting away and ignoring the fact that three American dudes just seemingly stumbled upon their hideaway. My friend, a frequent customer, was warmly greeted and we all sat down to enjoy dinner which, like the place itself, was a complete mystery as there is no set menu. You're asked how hungry you are, a little or a lot, and whatever Japanese delight the chef has concocted that evening is brought to your table until you tell them to stop. We were treated to noodles in caviar, cucumbers served with a rich Japanese mayonnaise, shaved bits of fried fish, and an unbelievable Japanese curry.
The meal ended the way it began, in a sort of dreamy dissipation. We all parted ways, promising to see each other more regularly. But we didn't speak about going back to the restaurant. It was a secret place. I'm not sure if I could ever find it again.