fuwa-fuwa ojousama


I’d been walking around all day, traipsing through the hilly suburbs of Myodani after failing to meet someone I’d hoped to surprise after six years of not seeing them – not that the long stomp through suburbia would have done any good, but it was as though I was expecting something. Something, anything – maybe stumbling upon the house I stayed in for two weeks, six long years ago. I was hoping to turn a corner and see a familiar gate, a smile that would let me in on the first day in this city. What was I looking for in all these houses with cars and gardens and no one in sight? It was obviously the wrong suburb, but I kept walking, and eventually collapsed on a bench in the middle of a bunch of concrete prison-looking apartment blocks and stared at the watery clouded-out sun for a while. I was just tired, man, it’d been a long day.

Anyway, kind of bummed out, I got back on the subway to Sannomiya and decided on an early dinner. I meandered my way through the center shopping street, feet throbbing, stopping by a bookstore or two, mentally comparing the navigability of Seoul, Hanoi and Tokyo on foot (in order: Hanoi, Seoul, Tokyo. Hanoi is dead easy because every single shop has their address/road on it. Tokyo offers only tantalizing, hidden hints on dark blue strips of text every other block. Seoul would be even easier if I could read Hangul).

Eventually I managed to find a subdued-looking L’Ami along a narrow street. I say subdued, but they have three child-sized Snoopy soft toys next to the front doors. It was 4.45pm. There was already a little line in front of the restaurant, which only sits 15 diners. You can, if you like, make a reservation.


So there I was with my bag, a camera and a flower on my head, behind an elderly couple in their 80s (neither of them looked particularly 80+. Not even Gramps I’m-Almost-90) who looked slightly disapproving when I began clicking away. Quite the opposite, though, as it turns out, when Granny suddenly broke into a smile and started talking to me*.

Granny: You like taking photos, don’t you?
Me: Why yes, I do…
Granny: Are you from Kobe?
Me: No, I’m from Malaysia.
Granny: Malaysia! (turns to Gramps) Dear, she’s from Malaysia.
Gramps: (raises eyebrows)
Granny: You speak Japanese well, don’t you?
Me: No, not really…
Granny: Did you come here on your own?
Me: Yes, I did.
Granny: My, how wonderful! So independent…

[We all filter into the restaurant, which has finally opened.]

Granny: How long are you staying in Kobe?
Me: Oh, till about the 20th.
Gramps: Malaysia, huh… You’re from Malaysia…
Granny: What a shame! It’s just so short… If you were staying longer we’d love to have you stay at our place, right dear?
Gramps: Yes, dear.
Granny: Such a shame, we could have taken you around too…


Gramps: I went to Malaysia once, you know.
Me: Oh, really?
Granny: Come now, it’s an old story…
Gramps: It was way before you were even born, heh heh heh.

[Some moments later]

Granny: It really is such a pity, that you’re not staying longer…
Gramps: It is, it is.
Granny: We would have shown you all the places…
Gramps: Indeed, indeed.
Granny: It’s so wonderful that such a pretty ojousan like you is so independent…


[A few minutes later]

Gramps: So there I was, this was during the war. I boarded this ship, you know, for some cruise, the Yamato. It was really expensive, like 3000 yen, and it went on for days…
Granny: Oh hush, she doesn’t need to hear about that…

[A few minutes later]

Gramps: I was on the boat, right, it was such a long journey… we finally reached the Malayan Peninsula, right, and we touched land…
Granny: Shut up already, dear, young people don’t want to hear stories about the war…


Granny: I’m from Mt. Rokko, you know.
Me: Really? That’s awesome. I’m going to go there tomorrow.
Granny: It really is a shame you’re not staying longer, I could have taken you around… the view is really very beautiful…


[Their amuse-bouche arrives. Pause, nibble]

Gramps: Do you drink beer?
Me: Sorry, I don’t really like beer…
Granny: What on earth are you asking for…
Gramps: That’s a damn shame, if you drank beer I’d treat you to a pint…
Granny: What would an ojousan like her be doing drinking beer? Lay off, dear…

[My food arrives]

Gramps: What a pity you don’t drink beer…
Me: Yes, isn’t it…
Granny: But really, it’s just too bad you’re not staying longer…
Me: It is, isn’t it…

They were a very sweet old couple, and if they repeat things this often, well, I suppose crossing the 80+ threshold will do that to you.  Anyway, I’d never see them again and vice versa, so I finished my meal and we bid each other farewell. I was sorry to leave L’Ami – I liked being at the counter next to these two kind people who were willing to offer a complete stranger like myself a home for a few days, the soft jazz playing, the lighting, the slightly cramped elegance of it all.


And the food, of course. Oh yes. Incidentally, while the beef was nothing much to write home about, my omelette was excellent. Look at that texture once you slice it open – gorgeous layers of perfectly seasoned pure fuwa-fuwa (yes in egg, no in bread). Order an omelette something – omurice, beef omelette, whatever. And make sure you get there early, whether it’s lunch or dinner, or it’ll be a fairly unbearable wait. If while queuing you meet an old couple prone to repetition (they’re very fond of this place), the wait’ll be a little better. Tell them I said hi.

*Conversations have been (ham-fistedly) paraphrased and translated. The ellipses are all quite necessary…

ラミ (L’Ami)
11:00~14:45(L.O) 17:00~21:30(L.O)
定休日: 月曜日

3-4-3 Sannomiyacho, Chuo-ku, Kobe-shi, Hyogo-ken
JR Motomachi Station
11:00~14:45(L.O) 17:00~21:30(L.O)
Tuesday ~ Sundays

This entry was published on March 20, 2013 at 3:45 am. It’s filed under Food, Japan, Kobe, Review, Travel, Yoshoku and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

3 thoughts on “fuwa-fuwa ojousama

  1. your food photos got me drooling… you’re a talented photographer!

  2. Love the title, loved the writing, loved the story.
    I particularly enjoyed involuntarily trying to reverse-transcribe your exchange
    [relying on my sketchy understanding of japanese and a motley amassment of vocabulary terms – both of which owe their existence, and are limited to the relentless iteration of anime stock phrases I’ve unwittingly imbibed over the years]
    and overplaying their contrived articulations 「ara! suteki~~」 The ellipses helped a lot. Please keep writing

    • This is super sweet coming from another fine writer and dispenser of intellectual baubles such as yourself ❤ With much thanks, received! And will attempt to not stop writing.

      (Yes – a couple of 'ara's, some 'suteki's, and lots of of 'hontou ni zannen desu ne….' – not just limited to anime, I think!)

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