A Second Round of Heart


So Im in Osaka and I cant find the apostrophe on the keyboard so just go with it.  I will tell you a quick story before we start our day here.

It was our first night in Japan. Tokyo. Fourteen fucking hour plane ride. We find the hotel, which is of course a story itself, quickly pull ourselves together and walk around our tiny section of  Shinjuko. Its a maze of restaurants and bars with very little English signage.

We circle the area about six times, too scared to walk in anywhere. There are no other tourists in this area. We have not heard a lick of English. But we smell deliciousness all around and are ready to wash away the processed plane food.

We walk into a long narrow place with about 15 tables. The 20-something-year-old cooks greet us with wide smiles and something in Japanese. We smile. Show two fingers (as in there are two of us) and we are brought to a high-top.

When the waitress arrives the best we can do is bring our hands, in a cup shape to our mouth, and pretend we are drinking. We say beer. It works. We are brought out two drafts and are given menus. Everything is in Japanese.  I look and laugh. 80 laughs.

We try to order and Im not even sure what we say. We just kinda giggle and our 20-something waitress with thick fake eyelashes and a scrounge in her hair giggles back. She walks away and 80 and I are like – what the fuck do we do. Fuck.

She returns with – I fucking shit you not – a hand drawn picture of a pig. It has its internal organs drawn inside. Its like we’re in medical school. We are to pick what grilled piece of organ we’d like. Now, this is not a composite story, like so many authors write in the prelude to their book. This happened our first night.

80 and I look at each other. We nod and say okay. We point to the cheek first. We’ll take a skewer of that. She nods. Giggles. I giggle. 80 giggles. 80 points to the liver.  But alas, the tender liver is sold out.

We go for the heart instead. The heart and the diaphragm. The heart, the cheek and the diaphragm.

The pieces are served to us on skewers and there is a dab of spicy mustard on the side of the plate. The diaphragm is tough. The cheek is tender. The heart is firm, yet a bit soft.

We order plenty more beers and as more patrons order other dishes, we point to say `We want that too,` which included raw onions in a fish sauce topped with dried fish flakes, edamame, which is more tender and flavorful here (and served cold) and a bowl of hot, buttered roasted whole garlic cloves.

We order a second round of heart, too.

You may also like


  • melissa May 19, 2010  

    love it.

  • Jillian May 19, 2010  

    That’s the way to do it! The Japanese will bend over backward to understand you and get you what (they think) you want– smiling, nodding, and laughing will go an awfully long way. You MUST go to Tsukiji while you’re, preferably very very early in the morning. Pull up at seat at one of the hole-in-the-wall sushi bars and prepare to eat the freshest fishiest breakfast you’ll ever have.

  • BS May 19, 2010  

    A-fucking-mazing. This is why you travel, for ridiculous/amazing experiences like that. I can’t even believe you ate pig heart. twice.

  • erica May 19, 2010  

    ok, i’m sorry this isn’t about the food, but what’s a hair scrounge? you said the waitress had a scrounge in her hair, i tried to google it but didn’t find anything. just curious…

  • Sarah May 19, 2010  

    I think scrounge=scrunchie. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrunchie

    I haven’t seen one of those since 1997. 🙂

  • Liza May 19, 2010  

    This is the most amazing story! I miss you already! Can’t WAIT TO HEAR MORE!!

  • Pingback: Name This Mystery Grain | Endless Simmer June 17, 2010  
  • Pingback: ISO: Avocado Orchard | Endless Simmer August 25, 2010  

Leave a comment