by Charles J. Waggon
“Kumiko? Kumiko Washington? Nope, she’s not here. Yep, that’s her. Uh huh, husband’s an American. Works at the embassy, one of them Marine guards. Yeah, big fella… hello, hello?”
Sumbitch hung up, how ’bout that.
That was my secretary Kumiko’s mobile phone I answered. Been ringin’ all morning. Kumiko took the day off, but forgot to take her phone last night.
Been drivin’ me nuts. Plays the first few bars of “Smoke On The Water” when there’s a call. Don’t laugh; my cell plays the “Col. Bogey March” – I set it to do that just to bug them old SDF goats I gotta work with.
Naw, Kumiko don’t got no husband, and he’s not a Marine guard. I just had to get me some peace and quiet. Besides, I thought I’d be doing her a favor. Turns out I did. Like another one of them Washingtons, I cannot tell a lie.
“You said I was married to a Marine guard at the embassy? And he hung up? Why thank you, Charlie Jake. Well, it all started at Geronimo…”
And Kumiko goes on to tell me the whole story how this skinny I.T. guy hacks her cell phone when she has her back turned. Gets her number, starts calling her alla time. Couldn’t take a hint till I gave him a big enough one. Put a stop to all that monkey business.
“How can I ever repay you, Charlie?”
Most guys dream about having a woman like Kumiko ask a question like that. All I was dreaming about was a good steak and a beer. So I told her.
Next week she takes me to this place called Oregon Bar & Grill, in some new high-rise in Shinbashi. She remembered I like that good, rich beer from Oregon what you can drink at Roti in Roppongi. The OBG, though, has a view that won’t quit. Forty-two stories, Ginza on one side, Tokyo Tower on the other.
We start with Dungeness Crab and Shrimp Cake, ¥2,200. Had green-and-red pepper sauce on the side. Now these was crab cakes, tasted like crab, not mashed potatoes and sauce. Lots of crab inside. Thumbs up.
I start to order the striploin when I see the waiter take chicken to the next table. Could smell it coming. Man, that’s chicken. Ordered me one, the Oven Roast Garlic Rosemary Local Chicken, ¥3,100. Half a hen, crispy skin with salt and herbs; tender, juicy meat. Kumiko gets the Smoked Wild King Salmon, ¥3,400, smoked with cherry wood chips and served with lentils and spinach.
Both of these were huge. Did I tell you this place has American-sized portions? That’s because OBG’s just straight American, nothing too fancy.
Of course, you couldn’t find an Oregon beer there if you’d had a Geiger counter, ’cause they didn’t have any. Only Super Dry and Miller, enough to send me to the wine list. Kumiko went all gaga over the Oregon state Pinot Noirs, so we got one. I even liked it. Good value, too; about ¥8,000 for a very nice one. Kumiko says two thumbs up on the vino.
But you shoulda seen her go nuts over the dessert – paper bag made of chocolate stuffed with some kinda sweet creamy stuff, with sauce and berries strewn all over the plate. Enough for two, but priced like it.
Charlie Jake says one thumb up. Good food, but not exceptional. Ain’t cheap, either, but she paid. Great view, big chairs, not cramped. You take your boss or relatives here when they get tired of Japanese food.
Oregon Bar & Grill
Shiodome City Center 42F
1-5-2 Higashi Shinbashi Minato-ku, Tokyo
Lunch: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Dinner: 5 to 10 p.m.
Open every day