When: August 24, Late Where: Somewhere in Kyoto
My buddies Poncho and Izzy came to Kyoto last year in December. Somewhere in the heart of Kyoto they found a bar, and in that bar is a picture Izzy drew of the bar tender. I was sent on a quest to find this bar, photograph that picture, and add a paper crane to the mix. But, the instructions on how to get there were kind of fuzzy. Route 113, near the Kyoto Tower and a big temple, a two story place with lots of visible bamboo.
After wandering around for a couple of hours (and somehow getting involved in a group portrait with a bunch of drunken salary men), I finally found a place that fit the description. I slid open the door, ducked inside, and was ushered in to a seat next to the open kitchen. It was a small place with ten seats on the bar and a small table tucked into the corner, decorated with bamboo and dark wood, and their specialty was ... beef tongue.
This was a mixed result. I'm pretty sure Poncho would have mentioned tongue if it were a fixture on the menu, and there was no picture to be seen. However, I love tongue. No doubt about it. It's very flavorful and tender, and prepared correctly, an amazing experience. So, I sat, ate tongue, and drank beer.
Thirty minutes passed while I relaxed, watching the chefs prepare and serve food. It's pretty fascinating to watch a Japanese kitchen at work. The basics are still the same, but the techniques and tools kept me thoroughly entertained ... until a man walked over, and in broken english, invited me to sit with him and his friend.
Their english was good enough for us to have a lengthy conversation about traveling, beer, traveling, sake, traveling, soju, traveling, and whisky. Apparently, words lost in translation are easily replaced with alcohol amongst friends. I'll have a place to stay next time I come to Kyoto, and they would always be welcome at our place if they came to Portland. Friends in far away places are a great thing to have.
It was a good night, with good people. These are the sorts of things that make travel worth while.