I had a little tragedy in my life recently. My favourite Japanese restaurant closed down. It was called Zen.
I loved this place. I loved it so much that I gave it a 5-star review on Google maps. It was a detailed review with some of my best photography. But alas, my contribution wasn't enough to convince more people in my town, Southgate, to come and eat here. It was empty most of the time.
In a way, that was actually a good thing. This was the place where I often came to read, write, and draw. All of that accompanied by a hot sake (rice wine), and sushi. This was the place where all the best ideas came to me. Especially when writing my Japanese graphic novel. Every sip of hot sake played a massive part in my production process, taking notes as I read Japanese history books, sketching some characters on a sketch pad, and writing more plot points for more stories about Feudal Japan.
This restaurant was part of my Japanese lifestyle. Every Tuesday evening was Karate training, I would go to a Japanese language course and eat here afterwards. And there are Japanese culture festivals with Anime and video games. Every weekend or so I would watch a Japanese movie, usually an old samurai movie. And this Zen restaurant for me was the perfect place to eat Japanese food.
This place has some of the nicest memories I will cherish forever.
On a few occasions I had relatives who came from Cyprus to stay with us. I would always bring my cousins here. When they hear Japan, they think of ninjas and laugh. To that I would say "Yes and this is what they ate." And they enjoyed it every time. The look of the sushi alone was enough to get them excited. This restaurant made dinner a joyous occasion.
Last year I had my 32nd birthday here with my family. Each member looked through the menu with baffled eyes, wondering what was what. They didn't know the difference between an udon noodle and a soba noodle, let alone what sushi was. It was nice to go through each item and explain what was what. To them all this was very strange.
Let's not forget that these are people who grew up on Turkish kebab and Greek salad all their lives. The Japanese cuisine was never on their menu. Despite having lived in the UK for decades, neither an Indian nor a Chinese takeaway ever crossed their minds. This Japanese restaurant was way beyond their comfort zone. But since it was my birthday, this was the ideal occasion to try.
To them, it was puzzling at first, but once the food arrived, they were fascinated by how the food looked and they soon couldn't wait to try what they ordered. "Oh, this is so different" they would say, "This is very nice". This was a unique experience they'll never forget. They enjoyed it.
And now, it's closed. So Goodbye, Zen.
However, this is not the end.
This is where I say Hello. Another Japanese restaurant opened up in my town recently. It is called Tonnba.
I couldn't wait to go and try it out. In my first visit, the place was busy. It was packed with people because someone was having a birthday party here. It reminded me of my birthday party. The asian family sitting were beautiful, having a laugh and enjoying themselves.
This time it was a take away for me and my family. I ordered a chicken teriyaki noodle, a sashimi selection, and some pork dumplings. All delicious.
I have now given this one a nice review on Google maps. I say with hope this one stays around a little longer and make new happy memories with this one too. My Google Maps review can be found here: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Tonnboemail@example.com,-0.1286808,17z/data=!4m7!3m6!1s0x487619835e822e9b:0xacc4e032a62e3147!8m2!3d51.6330521!4d-0.1264921!9m1!1b1