Lora’s look at Japlish menu items…

Trends & Culture - July 26th, 1985

by Lora Sharnoff

Every gaijin in Japan has undoubtedly come across some items on “bilingual” (what exactly the second language besides Japanese is often I debatable point) menus that they could not make head or tails of, unless they could manage to read the Japanese section. I count myself among the lucky ones whose Japanese-reading ability has usually come to the rescue when my knowledge of Janglish has failed. I say ”usually” because some restaurants have separate Japanese and “English” menus, and only offer the latter to gaijin, as foreigners can not read kanji, you know.

Of course, those in an adventurous mood may even enjoy trying me of the mystery items on the menu. A young man who used to study Japanese with me once found something called “castered plein” on the menu in a coffee house in a hotel, and ordered it out of curiosity. It turned out to be custard pudding.

Anyway, I would now like to present my favorite “Janglish” menu, composed of gems gleaned from a number of restaurants and coffee houses over the years in Tokyo.

Preprandial drink: Grass wine, cherry blandy, or sun lighes cocktale (I only realized after reading the accompanying katakana that the last item meant “sunrise cocktail”)

Or for teetotalers: Flesh juice (a cannibal’s delight!)

Hors d’oeuvre: Smoked sermon (What would Reverend Falwell think about this?), or Rogue Fart Cheese with Clackers.

Soup: Coon soup (After recovering from my shock. I read the Japanese part of the menu to find out that this was “corn soup.” The coffee shop which offered this, by the way, is no longer in existence.)

Salad: Vegi Sarad with Southern Ireland Dressing (Since I did not order this. I am still not sure whether it was an original crea­tion of the restaurant or merely what the rest of us know as “Thousand Island” dressing.)

Main dish:   Humbug stake (apparently a variation of “hand­bag u-steaki,” which my dear editor found on another menu), Fried Cute (I discovered from reading the Japanese that this was “fried squid” or “cuttlefish”), or Fried Lamp (especially recom­mended to enhance one’s appreciation of “smoked sermon”) Served with green peace (members of the conservationist group?)

Dessert: Soft cram, or home-merd cake (I did not try this, as I was afraid it might taste like s—t; in fact, I am not even sure whether the Ichigaya coffee house that was offering this is still in existence. It may have been closed by the Health Depart­ment.)