Yakitori Column

vol 01The "Izakaya" Experience

"What ?? What was that?? What did they say??"

These were my first words walking into an Izakaya in Kurosaki, Kitakyushu.

My name's Clayton. I'm from a place very far away from here. Canada to be exact. Coming from a Country like Canada, Japan has very little similarities.

Going to a restaurant in Canada means, walking in to have a hostess seat you and a waiter or waitress who has been assigned that specific table serve you the whole time.

Yelling out loud"Excuse me !!" to order an initial drink would make you immediate enemies with your waiter.

It would be considered very rude. This followed by ordering from a menu, only your meal not worrying about what your friend is having and with no intention of sharing with him.

Usually, a silent, calm tmosphere brings back customers. Nobody likes a loud place to eat dinner.

Well, I found out very quickly that a dinner out in Japan could be a very different experience.

As I walked into the restaurant in Kurosaki, I was greeted with many very loud "Irasshaimase!!!"
Not only was I completely shocked but the voices sounded angry and unwelcome.

I later found out that the words they were yelling meant "welcome" and it was a sign of a very well run Izakaya.

They were very friendly to me and interested in foreigner's reaction to Japanese restaurants.

I continued by sitting down and trying some very different kinds of food than I was used to.

You see, most Canadians are not that used to raw fish and different kinds of tree roots steamed but I was open-minded.

I'll never forget the cooks laughing at me as I tried using the chopsticks put in front of me to eat some raw fish that had just been murdered minutes before I ate it.

They weren't laughing at my chopstick technique but instead laughing at my reaction as I jumped from the table when the mouth of the fish opened as I was eating.

Anyhow, that restaurant became one of my favorite places to eat and I'm now a sashimi pro.

I guess you'll have to come down to Japan to experience this for yourselves. After some getting used to, I now love eating in Japanese Izakayas.

Hope you enjoyed my experience.
See you next time.