night out with shochu and wodka

22Jan06

Wodka Wyborowa (1985)
(Originally uploaded to Flickr by retroads.)

On Friday night I went out to dinner with my friend Miho after she got off of work at the International School in Toyonaka. Miho, who I met through my friends Charles and Marié, teaches English in what is essentially a top rate kindergarten for international students (and some Japanese students as well, I think). I hadn’t seen Miho for a very long time because she’s been busy and I’ve been busy as well. In fact, since the last time I’d seen her she’s managed to vacation in Korea and Thailand, where she had her hair done in up micro-braids with small blue and white beads at the ends. We ended up going to an izakaya called Wan’s that served a kind of pan-Asian fusion cuisine that tasted almost precisely like the kind of pan-Asian fusion you can find in Los Angeles or San Francisco. We were led upstairs where we were seated at a bar that was lit from underneath by an incredibly saturated red light — that same kind of sense of thug redness that you begin to experience when you’ve been working in a darkroom for several hours at a stretch. In any case, the food was really delicious, but the sterling touch was the wide selection of shochu on order. Miho, it turns out, is a bit of the shochu equivalent of the classic California wine enthusiast, which was nice for me because not only was I introduced to some fine, fine shochu, but Miho convinced the bartender to let us sample several kinds of each type of shochu before before buying. Perhaps the best shochu we had all evening was Miho’s favorite, Taime (pronounced “tie-may”), which is a mugi (barley) shochu. I also had some really excellent emo (sweet potato) shochu, but I really can’t recall the name because I’m afraid we ended up having quite a bit to drink. I think my favorite portion of the evening was Miho’s story about working in Vancouver at a shop called Rasta Wares. “Rasta Wares is where my accent became really good. It’s really hard for Japanese to say ‘Rasta Wares,’ so at first it was difficult for me to answer the phone. But after a year or so, I would answer the phone and people wouldn’t be able to tell that it was me.” Truly, it’s quite enjoyable to sit at a bar, awash in red glow (like a blanket or a pillow), drunk and talking about head shops. It felt like home.

Of course, after this fabulous drinking event, it was time to run to the last train and go home. But on the way back to my house from Ishibashi station, I ran into Przemek and his wife, out for a midnight stroll. They live in the International House — a group of apartment blocks for foreign students and visiting scholars — and they invited me up for a drink. Well, Przemek ended up introducing me to the pleasures of Wyborowa, a potato wodka from Poland. According to Przemek this wodka is quite expensive in the states, but is only a few zlotys in Poland — the equivalent of about ten dollars, I think. There was about a third of a bottle left, and I was already drunk, but it’s very difficult to refuse Polish hospitality — especially when there’s good conversation and jazz involved. I ended up struggling home finally at about 3:00 in the morning and sleeping the sleep of the dead.

It wasn’t until today (two days later) that I found the CD in my pocket that Przemek had loaned me. At which point I remembered that Przemek had loaned me a CD.

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