Asian Kitchen : Ginza Corridor

27 Sep

Six years ago my family moved to Japan for several months, during which I recall a surreal experience that arguably bordered on the magical. It began with my dad’s simple craving for spicy food––particularly Thai food. Having begun to miss the Thai restaurants from my Californian hometown, I too felt the craving and we set off on a quest to find the spiciest Thai restaurant in Tokyo.

Over the course of several weeks, we sampled a variety of Thai places. Although we left each place happy and full, they did little to stem our craving and only increase our curiosity on what the city had to offer. My dad learned from a colleague of a low-profile spot in Ginza, a couple blocks south of Yurakucho Station, and we decided to check it out.

We walked up and down the busy street for twenty minutes looking for the place but couldn’t find it. Then, all of a sudden, we could smell the sweet aroma of boiling coconut curry coming from the nondescript stairs leading down to an outdoor basement entrance. As we descended the staircase, we automatically noticed how bizarre it was; towards the bottom, someone had decorated the room with paint and plaster so that it looked like a cave, complete with mine lamps strung along the ceiling. There was a large wooden wall at the end of the room and an elephant mask on the adjacent cave wall with the words “押す” or push under it. So I did.

Immediately the soundproof wooden wall slid back revealing the a loud bustling Thai restaurant with wispy drapes forming canopy-like tents around diners and tables. We ordered up a little bit of everything on the menu. It was very spicy and very tasty––an experience that extended beyond taste and into my other senses as well. Similarly, through Tanizaki’s detailed depiction of sights, sounds, and textures, I view Count G’s episode as extending beyond the mere sense of taste, making his dining experience that much more memorable.

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