by CJ WAGGON
MR. WAGGON, it’s truly an honor to meet you. My name is Keiko.”
Thought I was dreaming as I finally let go of her soft, tiny little hand. Cute as a button, girl-next-door type (if you live in Japan), short bob, bright shining eyes. So how does an adoring little thing like this know about an old coot like me?
“I’ve been researching in your held for about ten years. I’ve read all your patents, and studied all your inventions since the 1950s,” she burbled sweetly in letter-perfect English. “And I also read your column in the Weekender, and it said you were at General Strategics. That’s how I recognized you today.”
What could I do but ask her to join us. I’d just sat down with Professor Igarashi of the aerospace lab and Professor Yamada of Tokyo U nearby. We were at Lever son verre, this little French restaurant right on the Komaba Campus of Tokyo U. Turns out Keiko was a rising star in electronic defense systems, and my two egghead buddies had already read the papers she’d published.
I’d come to see these two eggheads on account of all the trouble that me and Hideo, the head engineer with our Japanese partner, been having with a new system we’d been working on for the boys in Langley. I’d tell you that I could tell you about it but I’d have to also tell you that same tired joke about having to kill you afterwards cause it’s top secret.
My fondness for good chow, though, ain’t no big gol’dum secret, though, and this place was plenty nice. We were short on time, so got the basic lunch — mine was chicken so tender you could shred it with a fork, with a light cream sauce, beans and potatoes on the side, few slices of nice bread, salad, coffee, a thousand yen even. The profs had fish — isaki I heard. Our new friend Keiko got the penne arrabiata, bright orange, all spicy. CJ sez one thumb up.
It was late February, and already warm with some of the trees in the yard beyond the patio in bloom. We’d taken a spot out there, and it was just a hair chilly, but that just made the coffee taste better, like it does when you’re camping.
A few days later, Keiko called and invited me to dinner there, but it was my treat. There were two dinner sets, one for ¥1,800 and the other for ¥2,500. Couldn’t believe the price for such a fine French meal. Keiko and I got to talking and damned if I remember exactly what we ate, but it was some kinda chicken and herbs. Don’t matter cause the menu changes every day.
Turns out Keiko is a real chow hound herself, knows how to order food and wine, and can really pack it away. How she stays so thin is beyond me, but so many Japanese women are like that.
Lever Son Verre
Faculty House IF
Komaba Campus of Tokyo University
Daily, lunch 11am-2:30pm, dinner 5-9pm
Take the Inokashira Line two stops from Shibuya, and exit near the rear of the train and walk straight into the campus. Inside the gates, go left and walk ahout two minutes and you’ll see it. Details in Japanese at www.leversonverre-tokyo.com/restaurant_komaba/index.html.
The basic lunch for ¥1,000, you can’t go wrong. The place is in a park-like setting, and you’ll think you left Tokyo.
Coffee, tea, the usual.
Out on the patio unless it’s storming like a banshee.
Students and faculty of Tokyo U. A few local housewives stray in, I’m told.