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Stories About Photos: Tonkatsu Bentoh

February 7, 2009

I was at the GRANTA reading with Joseph O’neill and Jonathan Lethem, and Mr. Lethem had a pretty good piece on a photo of his dad.  I thought to myself, ‘If I just wrote about photos I have, I could fill 100 books’.  Or at least a hundred blog posts.  Here’s one I chose at random.
ton1 This is me with my friend A.  His girlfriend then and now, P., is my maid of honor in my upcoming wedding.  P. and I had just arrived a couple days before from six weeks of hitchhiking Japan.  It was August and I carried a 30 pound backpack and I ate a large amount of my meals out of a never ending jar of peanut butter, which is why I may look the skinniest I’ve ever looked, ever.  I remember when we passed through a town famous for plump raisins and I stopped to by a bag and I ate spoonfuls of raisins and peanut butter as if it were lobster covered in caviar.

Arthur’s parents lived for a couple years in the suburbs of Tokyo and their neighbor, Y., took us out to dinner at this restaurant.  I believe Y. was missing most of his stomach, but I don’t remember much of that because Y. was an incredibly charismatic man who consumed the world.

Tonkatsu is possibly one of the most delicious foods in the world, ever.  It’s like pork chop tempura, really light and crispy and not greasy at all (if made correctly).  This restaurant, which I gathered was like the Japanese equivalent of the Macaroni Grill, had a level of decadence and deliciousness that even the menu at Momofuku-ko couldn’t come close to.  There were dozens of tonkatsu: tonkatsu, spicy tonkatsu, tonkatsu rolls with asparagus and cheese, tonkatsu on rice, tonkatsu with sauce… There was also tempura and about a thousand other things on the menu, though it seemed silly to come to a place called Tonkatsu Bentoh and not eat tonkatsu.  With our tonkatsu came soup, several salads, little pickles, rice, and other little sides.

They brought these feasts on platters big enough to curl up and sleep on after eating.  Tonkatsu was the last thing I wanted that night, still exhausted from my trek and still 40 degrees celcius outside, but now I’m thankful Y. took us.  Except now those tonkatsu platters haunt my dreams.

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