Monday, June 15, 2015

The Aspie Traveler: Japan Day Four: Noodles For Lunch

Food has been interesting to say the least. I wasn't going to do the hotel breakfast again so I walked to 7-11 that's just several blocks away (yes, I was as surprised as anyone to see the familiar 7-11 sign) and got myself a couple donuts. They were interesting and the texture was much more spongy than donuts in the US. They certainly weren't your Krispy Kreme but weren't awful either.

Before lunch I wanted to take another walk in some gardens so I went to the Hamarikyu Gardens which was just a 15 walk away and just with yesterday my thoughts were into overdrive as I strolled this oasis within the orchestrated chaos that is Tokyo.

My thoughts were much along the same lines as yesterday so I won't rehash that for now (no guarantees about later) but after I toured the gardens it was lunch time and I had every intention of trying something new.

Up until then all my meals have been at this one coffee shop mentioned on my day 1/2 post. I've been here times and for lunch yesterday I tried the Naporitan Pasta having no idea what it was (it's pasta with a ketchup sauce with mushrooms and Tabasco sauce) and I wasn't a fan so last night I went back and had the same spaghetti and meat balls I had the first night. Why have I gone back? First was familiarity and second was they have a picture in English. When I pass other places I've worried about the social dynamic on what to say and now to say it. I haven't been too concerned about the food itself (okay, maybe I have) but it's the social side that's kept me out of most places.

We can travel, we can visit new paces, but we can't run from who we are and my shyness and ability to over worry about social miscues has followed me to Tokyo. However, on this day, walking back from the gardens I was in the opposite side of the coffee shop I had dined at so if I wanted to eat I'd have to try somewhere new. I ventured past a few places and the. I came across this place called Due Italian that was just opening. The menu outside said "Ramen" which I had not had a proper Japanese Ramen meal yet so to would be great. There was just one problem for me and that was everything else was in Japanese.

I walked I hoping they'd have a menu in English for me and when I asked, which asking alone was a big step for me, the lady shook her head but then pointed me to this vending machine. A vending machine... Great?! I looked at it confusedly but then I remembered my sister had told me that some places actually have you order by paying a machine and giving the ticket to the person working behind the counter. This was genius and as an Aspie is my dream because it cuts out the personal interaction. There was just one downside to this dream and that was, did I want the blue, the white, or the orange? I mean, blue could taste good, but the white I hear has excellent flavor... Okay, so I had no idea what was what but I did know one of the three had soy sauce and I am not a fan of soy sauce so just as I was about to put my money in another worker came behind me and I heard something I hadn't heard in a few days... English! He asked, "need help?" And he then explained in broke. English that blue is for salt, white is for cheese, and orange is the soy sauce. The cheese sounded interesting and it came with an egg so I went with that along with a ginger ale and I say down.

At this point I was highly proud of myself! I had gone into a new place, somewhat conquered a language barrier, used a vending machine to order, and now I stared out the window at the world going by.

The dish came out and the cheese, I'm somewhat halfway sure, was Parmesan, and it made for a nice blend of flavor with whatever the green stuff was in it. I did try to use the chopsticks but after ten seconds of making a fool out of myself I went with a chopstick spoon combo which worked out great and when the noodles were gone I had the egg and it was a fantastic lunch.

Come tonight I'm hoping to try one of the places which I'm now calling food row. I wish you could walk down it and smell all the different smells. It's fantastic! I've just been intimidated by the fact that they're busy and I don't speak a bit of Japanese, but the spaghetti is getting old and I need to challenge myself so this evening, I hope, I'll try another new place and I hopefully won't accidentally order the Naporitan.

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