Friday, May 15, 2009

a slice of soy heaven

another friday, another lunch meeting, another restaurant.

this time one of my most regular haunts, toko, where i walk in & default cocktail is instantly whisked up behind the bar, a welcoming wave where i'm greeted by first name & usual table lies dormant waiting for my dear friend john & i to grace it with our candid conversations & feast on food japanese 'izakaya' style. bliss.

there's a hot bed of inflationary discussion topics which range from proprietry limited company shares, to the ongoing rio tinto debacle to middle aged opposite sex marketability, pioneering telecommunications in australia, failing local restaurant trade [another favourite around the corner sadly just shut down but i managed to track down the wonderful maitre'd over lunch -- see you next thursday marie!], plastic surgery politics & me waxing rhetoric about the wonderful invaluable punk monks... quite suddenly we're onto green tea.

sunny of name & disposition runs the surry hills arm of this divine treasure along with dynamic energy-driven otoosan figure kian, always ensure everything is at least 100%. this destination keeps recurring on our high rotation list because they make the best deviation from a bloody mary in town "kim chi mary", have the most incredible sake menu, but in the end my true love is signature dish the miso cod [eating it is like dying & going to soy heaven].

ultimately though what keeps bringing us back is the irreplaceable energy. kian explains his philosphy: that there is no division between customers & hand-picked crew: there's a comfortable familiarity without it getting weird. kinda like cheers but um, more asian. in surry hills.

apparently there's a recession going on but today the place is busy without feeling rushed. by the time i take these photos it's the end of the second run & a few kim chi marys later...

1 comment:

  1. Ah, locals. In another moment of synchronicity I was discussing places that are like Cheers just last night as we were leaving Galbraiths. That's my favourite haunt. The old Grafton library, haunted apparently so Keith the owner tells me, now a pub where they craft their own English style ales. My Englishness draws me to it. Also possibly the fact that over the last 14 years of my working life I have had to pass the damn place twice a day for at least 12 of them. I am however making and effort to cut back. Two or three pints a couple of times a week at almost $9 a pint soon adds up not to mention the fact that is also making me fat! But the place is like a second home. I quite happily ignore the kiwi way of doing things (where lone drinkers are shunned as outcasts) and pop in for a few quiet pints alone reading a book or furiously scribbling invention ideas in my little Moleskine notebook. I am always polite and always take my own empty glass to the bar. Most people don't but little touches like that make you a better customer. Sure they have waiting staff, but they are not slaves. They all quite like me there. The staff greet me, the owner talks to me and the brewer asks me about my latest projects. I am probably one of their eccentric regulars in their eyes. And am certainly the only person to ever take their man sized, beer brewing, 6502 brained robot there for a photo-shoot. Ah, and the beer. I imagine beer a love of beer in real pint glasses is ingrained given my background. I am sure my favourite English uncle didn't get his impressive beer belly and need for a pig heart valve transport from drinking Bloody Marys. My favourite pint at the moment (I change from time to time making it hard for the bar staff to know my regular although they do try bless them) is, or rather was, Mr Gs luncheon ale. Specially brewed over summer to be a lower percentage ale (3.something%) it was supposed to be the perfect lunchtime drop. Good taste but not too much bite. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts to boost consumption figures, it didn't catch on so was discontinued. I have know this for some weeks now, the staff breaking the news to me a while ago. Since then every trip to bar starts with a question about the ever lower supply of my favourite drink. So last night after work we popped in and I was determined to only drink Ginger Beer. I went straight to the bar. You can tell a proper driner as when a group of people walk into a pub they will be the one, like me, who goes straight to the bar as everyone else stops halfway there, starts looking confused and milling about like confused sheep. Now good bar staff will spot their regulars doing this and will be ready to serve you right away as you reach the bar, often ignoring the 'tourists' who generally stand at the bar then take 5 minutes deciding on what they want. Actually, now I write this, I wonder if the milling about/confusion routine is actually more to do with not wanting to buy the first round? This often happens to me as being the first to the bar invariably means you end up buying everyone else a drink too. Unless you are quick! I wonder if this means people who only ever stay for one almost always get their drinks for free as someone else always gets that first one. After all, they are only having one so in their eyes it wouldn't be fair for them to buy a round for every one else. Perhaps people should always just buy their own drinks and this would save much confusion? Except on dates but that a different matter of etiquette altogether. Now, where was I? Yes, I had pushed through the crowds of tourists (Galbraiths is always full of tourists on Friday nights) and got to the bar and shocked them by ordering my ginger beer. One barman was off getting that then the other chap who was managing that night said 'Not Mr Gs, it's down to the last few pints?'. Well, being weak in matters of beer my non drinking resolve failed me so I said sure go on so he poured me a pint. And it was the LAST pint! Literally the last. Ever. Well, for now. It wasn't quite a full pint, perhaps 90% full so he gave it to me and said it was on the house. So it was free. As in beer! Sometimes life is good to you. I don't know why but there was just a sense of achievement in me getting that last pint. Only drinkers would understand it I imagine. They staff all understood and they were all smiling at me. It's like being part of the pubs history. The night the Mr G's ran out.