Sunday, January 16, 2011

My Old Kissaten Haunt

Really jumping around on my vacation postings. Tonight it's back to my hometown Okinawa. I really wished I could've blogged about everything there while it all happened, downloading my photos and mental thoughts fresh each night. But at home where my mother resides only a month out of the entire year now, we were sans internet. Shoot I was relieved to hear the old house still had television! I did find a few 'net cafes' but alas, there were none with WiFi.

I started with a few Okinawa Sobas last week and the responsible food blogger self feels I should continue to share the many more locally specific foods that probably would be much more interesting blog subjects but... Much of my trip back had been about visiting old haunts as much as reconnecting with friends and family. Something I completely missed out on my last visit eight years ago.

The photos here all feature my old classic Kissaten hangout which name and whereabouts I'm leaving out (though if you can read some Japanese it's easy enough to figure out at least the name). The head mastaa or master was friendly but robotic as ever. I really liked this place because of him and his glass cased plastic model kit gallery in the back. Looking now I know he was an Otaku, but this was before the word existed.

The Naporitan was as close to being perfect to a primed nostalgic chap like me could be. (Seriously, everything was so strangely sentimental to me this trip!) Cooked with a high heated pan, the onions char to develop its natural sweetness. The acidity of the ketchup flavor is much reduced while in turn some nuttiness to the small amount of butter is added. With thinly sliced bell peppers and ribbon strips of inexpensive deli ham, yup it's your old school Naporitan. :)

On my second visit I unfortunately discovered the Katsu Curry wasn't the same as it used to be. The katsu wasn't the individually hand breaded and deep fried beauty but now an uninspiring probably store bought room temperature cutlet. The Japanese curry was rich and tasty as ever though and the meal did manage to stir up some good memories so all wasn't lost.

But it would only take a few steps outside of my personal reminiscing cocoon to realize this was a very different time. Shutter Alleys as they now call them all throughout Japan. The view of rusty shutters down as far as my eyes could see was a hard sight to swallow during the otherwise normal midweek evening. It's hard economic times everywhere.

But my kissaten seemed to be hanging in ok. Along with the old menu I see a new long list of value oriented teishokus, from a very humble tamago-don to classic grilled fish sets. A bit strange for this one time classy cafe where a single cup of Blue Mountain Coffee still lists for $9.30 only a few pages over.

Well it's getting late and I'm not sure how to end this post. It was really great to check out one of my old after school hang outs. Happy I got to document it here too. :)


K and S said...

glad you were able to re-connect.

I often go through "Urashima Taro" moments whenever I go home to Hawaii.

Dennis K. said...

Hi K&S, I know what you mean. I think a lot has to do with the fact that I started blogging too..

Sherry said...

Hi Dennis,

Your Shuttered Alley picture is beautiful. Sad content as you describe, but the child's playful silhouette doesn't seem to recognize the downward change. Very cool, thank you.

Dennis K. said...

Hi Sherry, thanks so much for the thoughtful compliment! :) I knew the shot was a keeper when I took it. On the brighter side there are many newly developed areas in Okinawa that are doing very well.