"Who goes on vacation for two weeks and forgets their wallet?" It was a fair question, one I'd asked myself before she gave voice to my inner thoughts. I wasn't sure if she was mad or scared. Is there a small tumor wriggling it's elbows inside my grey matter? Or is it early onset alzheimers? Or, was it a devious plot, she suggested, to keep from paying for her shopping? At our hotel, after coffee at Swindle Factory, the debate was put to rest. I couldn't find my camera - I'd left it behind. We tracked back to fetch it and decided to stay for dinner. Thanks to my creeping senility we filled up on Hayashi rice and pasta.
Those of you who equate Japanese meals with uncooked seafood might be surprised to learn of the wide variety of fare, some influenced by the West. My Hayashi rice is a good example. It's supposedly named for "hashed beef" and is essentially a beef stew with rice and mushrooms, served over rice. Swindle's variety leaned away from the beef in favor of the mushrooms which was fine by me and my brain tumor.
What delights in a place like this is the personal touch. It's hand-painted, quirkily decorated, and each piece of bric-a-brac appears to have been placed there by one of the two owners, a married couple with a small child. She mans the day shift and he replaces her at night.
We chatted with her in a mix of Japanese and English and learned she was born in Singapore, where her family lived for three years. When she went back behind the bar counter to cook, we took a peek. It was incredible since there was no kitchen. Like their Parisian counterparts, the Japanese have learned to cook in tight spaces with limited gear.
Dodo's disgust with me moderated a tad after she dug into her pasta. It had chunks of fatty pork and slices of grilled squash. As she ate happily, I looked around slowly, just to make sure. Camera? Check.