Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Where for art thou Shakey's?

I read somewhere online that there was a Shakey's Pizza in Tokorozawa, about a 30 min drive from the base (that's really close as driving goes here!) so we loaded up the kids and headed out on July 4th, ready for a pizza buffet.

Shakey's is an American chain, but there are only about 60 locations in the U.S., their other 400 stores are all in Asia. We used to eat at the Shakey's pizza in Shinjuku when I was a kid (30 years ago!!!!) and I didn't find out until we moved back to Japan that it was actually an American restaurant, the only one I'd ever heard of was the one in Shinjuku.

Anyway, we found the neighborhood without any trouble, parked and started off down the street, confident Shakey's was just around the corner. - Let me inject here that it was the hottest day we've had all summer, easily 500 degrees! - The sun was scorching hot and I'd only eaten a tiny bit of breakfast in anticpation of pigging out on pizza. After covering about 10 blocks we finally gave up and decided maybe the Shakey's had closed (our guidebook is about 5 years old). The kids were beyond meltdown stage and I was very quickly approaching that stage where one of us probably wasn't going to make it back to the van alive.

We found a KFC, settled the kids in with their chicken fingers and happy meal toys and Otis and I headed next door to a little noodle joint. Otis loves the little, hole-in-the-wall ramen shops that you find on nearly every block in Japan. This one was super tiny, only a small kitchen and a counter with 8 stools.

As with a lot of quickie eateries in Japan, there was a ticket menu machine thingy at the front. You put in your money and push the button of the dish you want, a ticket pops out that you give to the person behind the counter. We also figured out that you can call ahead to the ticket machine to place your order. The bowls of ramen are really big and I loved, loved, loved the fried rice.

I was disappointed that we didn't find the Shakey's, but I'm glad that we were able to explore an area we'd never been to and it turned out to be an okay afternoon.

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