as my saturday evening classes wound down tonight, i found myself craving katsudon. it was a rabid craving, unwilling to be placated by anything else. i asked my students where i might be able to find katsudon, and they didn't really know, so i headed home with no clue. most restaurants in japan are pretty specialized, and i mentally clicked through the places i already knew: italian...eel...udon...buffet...ramen...chinese...omurice...sushi, nowhere that might carry katsudon. after a peek on the internet, i was happy to find a listing for a katsudon restaurant just blocks from my apartment. i had no idea when i chose this apartment, but it's in a sweet spot with prolific restaurant options. searching for places alone in my car makes me nervous because i have to pay attention to traffic and stoplights and look for the the place, but searching for somewhere on my bike doesn't stress me out at all. if i stop in the middle of the sidewalk suddenly or need to turn around, no harm done. street view maps make it even easier because you can see what the storefront looks like before you even leave your house. so as a blue dusk fell, i headed off on my bike with a mental map and arrived at the katsudon place in like two minutes!
stage two: going into an unfamiliar place alone. this can be intimidating enough in your own country, but in a foreign country it can be even more nerve wracking. from outside the place looked pretty busy for so early in the evening. that's a good sign; the food is probably good, but i wondered how full it was. in japan: you just never know. there are places that look like closets that have hidden upstairs seating, just as there are places that look huge but only seat a few. so i took a deep breath and went inside. there was plenty of room at the counter, and since i already knew what i wanted, i ordered right away. the katsudon was around $9.50, and it came with salad, miso soup, pickled vegetables, and tea. take into account there's no tipping or tax, and that's a good, hearty meal for the price. even better: it was exactly what i wanted. i ate as much as i possibly could and rolled home satisfied.
i'm still stuffed!