The Mystery Café

A note on the Japan Rail benefits: We rarely had to obtain a ticket, and when we did no one collected or checked it. Most of the time, we just showed our passes and took our reserved seats.

On leaving the Benesse Museum, we had a cold, dark wait for the bus. It  was supposed to arrive in 20 minutes, which stretched to 40 and then extended another 20 when the driver took a coffee break. During the wait and on the ride back to the port, we met Katerina, a dentist from Switzerland, and a couple from Shanghai with a small boy in tow.

Katerina had a reservation at a restaurant near the port, made when she couldn’t dine at Benesse House, where she was staying, so we tagged along. The folks from Shanghai soon followed. Inside, we encountered the couple from New Jersey we’d seen on the ferry and another a family of four. We occupied every seat in the place except for a table for two by the door. It felt like we were eating in a private kitchen.

No one figured out the name of the place because all the signs were in Japanese.

Our waitress was seriously overweight, had pale skin and an almost vacant look, and moved ponderously, We realized the next day that she was severely disabled when we saw her motorized scooter outside. It took her forever to write down the order for the family, and that happened only after the father used his sketchpad of architectural drawings to illustrate that they wanted yakitori.

I envisioned the chef as a Jack Sprat type: tall, skinny, weather beaten face, missing a tooth, wearing a fedora and filthy gray Wellingtons. Minus the last, he could have soloed in a jazz band.

Chaos reigned, but eventually we ordered. Everything was flowing until it was announced that there was only one order of mackerel and would we like sashimi? I was surprised because I had seen the chef remove one piece from a packet of two and return the other to the refrigerator. With the green beans and other veggies, a couple of helpings of tofu, miso soup, and rice, I was more than full and thoroughly enjoyed every bite of the simple and hearty fare.

Plus I lost my appetite when our waitress fished a piece of seaweed from the side of a bowl and ate it.

Lingering over dinner was discouraged by the arrival of a friend of the chef and waitress who sat down with an enormous bottle of beer and lit a cigarette. She helped clear a bowl or two then downed another beer and lit a second cigarette.

The Shanghai family and Katerina were headed back to catch the bus so we accompanied them on a breezy walk.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *