It’s been weeks since my last entry. My partner is right. I only blog when I’m pissed off, lonely or beset by whatever bullshit comes my way. And boy did it come my way last week at the worst Japanese restaurant I have ever been to in my entire life. And I lived in Tokyo for four fucking years!

It all started with a giddy anticipation. We were finally going to have dinner at that Japanese restaurant in our neighborhood. And while there are plenty of Japanese restaurant in Hong Kong, especially in our neighborhood, this one was THE ONE. It just looked so Japanese. The others looked like cooked-up Cantonese versions of Japanese restaurants.

We walked to the restaurant reminiscing about our time (served) in Tokyo. The good times, the bad times. Playing paddle ball in the park across the street from our apartment. Drinking shochu on our terrace, the lights of Shibuya in the distance, me throwing that bowl I made at a Brooklyn ceramics shop across the room after my partner pissed me off on our anniversary (we were both struck with the flu and he was being an asshole).

By the time we entered the restaurant, my partner was just about ready to hop a flight back to Tokyo.

“I can’t wait to go there again!” he exclaimed.

“I can.” I said.

That’s when the bullshit storm hit.

We asked for the tofu without the fish flakes, or bonito droppings as I like to say.

“OK, OK.”

Surprise! Those droppings were crackling all over the dish when it arrived, just like at my very first meal in Tokyo.

My partner smiled at me sheepishly, hoping that I wouldn’t turn into Joan Collins or The Incredible Hulk.

I just smiled and said, “Wow, and they speak English here. You know this reminds me of Japan. No matter what you said in Japanese, they still managed to get something wrong. At least here, you can be understood. Well, at least should be understood.”

The mushroom tempura arrived grilled and with no visible batter.

My partner said, “Oh well,” popped one in his mouth and tried not to say anything too stupid.

I sent the shrooms back.

The Japanese sweet potato tempura never arrived. We asked for water three times before it came. The free appetizer was sad and more than a little creepy. The bean curd was burnt on the outside, soggy on the inside. And the waiter kept assuring us that he knew exactly what we wanted.

The only bright spot was the French wine. Cold and white, it was the best thing at this “Japanese” restaurant. Strangely, the bottle was not on our bill when it arrived. I immediately told my partner to go wait for me at the Australian wine shop a few doors down.

“What are you gonna do?” he asked.

“Just go. I’ll meet you there.” I said.

I paid and left as soon as possible.

I told my partner what I had done when I ducked into the wine shop. He was already talking to the owner and his lovely wife when I arrived, so I shared my story with them, shook my head and said, “That was the worst Japanese meal I’ve had in my entire life and the worst restaurant we’ve been to since we moved to Hong Kong eight months ago.”

Guess who shows up but the restaurant manager, demanding that I pay for the wine.

Now, I know all about that face saving nonsense that takes place here in Honkers, so I tried to be firm, not devolve into name-calling and screaming.

“How DARE you hunt me down demanding that I pay more money for the worst Japanese meal I have ever had in my entire life! And at our friend’s wine shop!”

“You did not pay for the wine.”

“I paid my bill, Sir. I have the receipt for my bill. It has been settled, Sir!”

And after five minutes of my partner and the wine shop owner and his wife looking down at the floor, checking the time and gazing out the picture window, the restaurant manager said, “I will buy you the wine.”

“Thank you! Thank you for buying the wine for me at the worst Japanese restaurant in Hong Kong. Thank you, Sir.”

And just before he turned to leave, I said it. I said what made me feel like an asshole. I said what was sure to keep me up all night. I said what I wanted to say all those times in Tokyo when I was defeated by everyday life, deflated at the thought of having to live there another day, upset that no matter how much of the language I learned, everyone always seemed to be playing a game of trip the spic.

“FUCK OFF!!!” I yelled.

I tossed and turned all night.

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