Monday, December 8, 2008

Sunny Diner, Kita Senju

I went to Kita Senju, Sharon, to buy myself some cheap ties. It's a sort of personal-improvement project. For the next period, still to be determined but at least 4 weeks, I'm wearing nothing but ties that I would never have considered wearing 2 weeks ago. Since these are items that I expect to go back to disliking in the immediate future, cost performance is a must. I figured KSJ would be the place to pick up some cheap oyaji-kusai fashion.

I was wrong about this, but found an Aoyama branch and got 5 ties out of their clearance rack. Walking the shopping street on the west side of the station, and the other one that crosses it, reminded me that KSJ is great and put me right in the mood for some cheap downtown eats - kani-kreem-koroke-kurry, anyone? If you're in this market, or ramen, or anything along those lines, it's hard to go wrong up there. I realized what I like about the town - I feel exactly like I'm on vacation! Domestic vacations for me invariably involve walking around a shoutengai somewhere in a country town (possibly a country town masquearading as a city, like Kanazawa), thinking how quaint it is, what with the shopping arcades, the dusty little shops, the okashiya...and maybe it's KSJ's former status as the first stop on the narrow road to the deep north, but it has this feel despite being 20 minutes from Tokyo.

Sunny Diner gets big props from Tabelog, and the more I look at the scores and try places, the more I agree with them. It seems democracy has some advantages after all, or maybe Tabelog readers are just extraordinaryily elite? After figuring out that I was on the wrong side of the station from Sunny, I started off in vaguely the right direction (you know what Japan is like without a map), and realized along the way that I was in fact on the right side of the station, and just on the next street over.

Ohhhhh, I'm getting old and have been here too long... Not really, but I did come to the odd revelation that I had seen Sunny Diner before. Only been to KSJ once in the past, found nothing too remarkable, but I remember this place. It's a slice of America, in that extraordinarily perfect way that things can be replicated only in Japan. The outside is red and cheerful, the inside is 110% American Diner, and somehow in a more authentically cluttered way than you get at those recreation places in America. Cartoons on a flat panel TV, loud teen-rock (all I know anymore is Green Day, but it was that and things derived therefrom), Chef wears his cap to the side...it's SoCal.

They open at 11:30. When I got there at 11:50, there were 5 people in line. By the time the first of those people got inside, there were 15 people in line. Part of the problem is the takeout policy - if you show up and ask for takeout, you get to jump the line and wait inside where it's warm (or cool, depending in season) which is probably a pretty good thing. Note to self. On a positive note, one of the waitresses comes out to ask each new customer whether they intend to eat in the store, and if they do she comes back with a plastic cup of chicken soup.

Chicken soup in plastic cups is nice, but I'll take a burger, 'K? The menu is a little bigger than I think it oughta be - you get your choice of burgers with cheese, bacon, avocado, etc. I don't think there was chili as an option. There are also other sandwiches - your grilled-cheese kinda thing. I really like grilled cheese, but I think it's a good idea to start with les specialites de la maison when first encountering a new dining experience. Bacon burger, chocolate shake, hot coffee!

Now that I've written all this crap to obscure the simple truth, I don't really know where to start. This was a transcendent burger. The meat was meaty - wide, thin, cooked all the way through. The bun was perfect (sorry, Waッchan, I didn't ask where to buy them. You should call!). The lettuce was abundant and fresh. The tomato was thick. The onions were chopped. The bacon was slightly burnt, which only maked it more delicious. The fries were thin and crisp, almost looking like they had been very lightly battered. This whole plate of food...I wanted to eat it again and again. It was better than Cats.

After a fun interlude where we discussed America, worked together to find Philadelphia on the map (no dear, it's not in SoCal!), and discussed the other (wait, THE) Great American Food, the cheesesteak, I stubmled back into the street, unable to spell, and smiled all the way back to the station. Thank you little tiny baby infant Jesus, all wrapped up and sleeping cozy in your manger, but still all-powerful and wise, for giving us cheeseburgers.



In heaven, this is what the angels eat
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Note strategically placed flag and Blackberry.

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