For years now, I have been telling people in Japan about the wonderful Japanese restaurant in my hometown – owned and run by Japanese staff – which has a wonderfully authentic atmosphere. A few years ago, I even ordered traditional New Year’s osechi ryori from them to give my friends and family a proper New Year’s Day party. Everyone is impressed and can’t believe it.
Well, today we stopped in and were greeted with a nice, “irasshaimase”. I politely requested a table for ‘sannin‘ (showing three fingers as I spoke) and I was thinking everything would be as normal… until I commented in Japanese on how the number of customers was small (presumably, a result of the snow). The waiter smiled and made an unrelated comment in English as he moved away to give us time.
From that point forward I started watching everything carefully: what was said, how they acted, the style of the remodel work that had been done, etc. Finally, I conceded that the staff was all new and perhaps it was a Korean family running the restaurant; much like the teriyaki restaurant at the edge of town. A half dozen years ago, at said teriyaki shop, I was trying to speak to them in Japanese until I saw a Korean name on the business license.
I think they’re happy for people looking for authentic Japanese food who mistake them for Japanese people, but are a little annoyed when the ignorant white guy tries to speak to them in Japanese. Anyhow, the experience was a little less than my expectations.
Otherwise, I’m going a little stir crazy being snowbound.