I found a book at Half Price Books yesterday called “zakennayo”.  It’s an introduction to slang in Japanese.  It doesn’t paint a very flattering picture of early 90s Japanese teen culture, but maybe that’s just realistic.

“Zakennayo” is an extremely rude word that means, essentially, “fuck off” in Japanese.  It’s a word I’d actually rather I didn’t know, but I guess it’s good to have in my arsenal if I really, really need it.  And I can’t think of a situation where I would.

But here’s the funny thing.  This is a word that is just to be taken at face value for what it means, but I wanted to dig in a little further to find out where it came from.  I didn’t succeed at that.  But I did find that there’s a (rather highly rated, it seems) sushi restaurant in Guatemala called “Zakennayo Sushi Bar”.  Don’t take my word for it, look it up yourself.

Basically, it’s a sushi bar that is telling every one of its customers to fuck off, and they have absolutely no idea that’s the case.

It seems to me that some people use the fact that they know a different language to their advantage.  Some people use it to talk about someone right in their face, and they have absolutely no idea.  Others use it to try to cheat them.  And some just do stuff like this to troll.

It works right up until someone figures out that they’ve been trolled or insulted, and then the jig is up.

It might be a joke.  And it might be a way of insulting people right to their face.

This is why I think it is so valuable to know another language.  You learn things that you never would otherwise.  For example, I learned what a sushi restaurant owner in Guatemala thinks of their customers.

Maybe sometimes you’re better off not knowing, to be honest.

Japanese Food and Stores in Austin, part 2

I have been continuing my search of Austin, and found a couple of interesting places of note that I thought I’d review.

The first is Asahi Japanese Store on Burnet just north of Koenig.  It is a store that carries only Japanese groceries and gifts, and is manned (womaned?) by Japanese speakers.  It is a small, out of the way place, but it has a lot of unique Japanese treats you will not find anywhere else.  I found some berry and mikan daifuku, and while I couldn’t eat the whole thing, I found it a very interesting experience.  I shared some with my coworkers and they found them just as delicious.

The other place I found was Kura (Kula?) sushi on Airport just south of Lamar.  It is the most authentic (definitely the most modern) revolving sushi place I’ve ever been to, and the only one I know of in the Austin area.

When you walk in, you are walked to a table or bar chair, which has its own touch screen.  You can take sushi out of the little containers that trundle by you, or you can order special sushi to order on the touchscreen.  Special order sushi arrives on a second conveyor belt just above, right to you.  If you put in enough plates, there are also little cartoons and at some point something they call a “bikkura pon” (basically gachapon without the gacha) will drop out.  I apparently didn’t order enough sushi to get a toy.  Maybe next time.

Bikkura, by the way, is a play on the word “bikkuri”, which means “surprise”.

Is it the best sushi I’ve ever eaten?  No.  But it was decent and edible, and to be honest, the experience was exactly like a real Japanese sushi place I saw on YouTube – and that one was in Japan.  So it is cool to have a little bit of the Japanese experience here in Austin, even if it’s just a sushi place.

I have a list of sushi and Japanese cuisine places I want to try, and will review them as I do.  I’ll also review products from the stores as I get a chance.

Japanese Food and Stores in Austin

I have a serious post in the works, but this one is fun, I hope.

Today I went around my current town of Austin, Texas, looking for interesting Japanese things.  I found a store called FIT Japanese Store over on Lamar, in the ChinaTown shopping center.  It had a pretty decent selection of interesting and cutesy stuff, including toys, housewares, plushes, etc.  I was a little disappointed at how small their selection was (I would have hoped there were more plushes and other cute things) but all told, it was a fun little trip.  They had gachapon – I got three Winnie the Pooh figures, a fairy, and a little (oddly functional!) notebook.  A little on the pricey side, but what else do you expect from an import shop?  They even have purikuri, so A for effort for them!

After that I went to Jinya Ramen, a ramen place at the Domain on Esperanza Crossing.  I had the Sukiyaki rice bowl, which was very good – especially with the soft-boiled egg mixed in.  Next time I go I’ll be a little more adventurous and get real ramen.  One selection looked appealing, but it has pork broth, which I have to stay away from for health reasons as much as I can.

One thing I have noticed about sushi (and other) places in Austin – there are (with exactly one exception) no Japanese there at all.  They are mostly Vietnamese and Korean.  Of course, this is fine, except it would be nice to actually be able to speak Japanese every now and then – none of them know it.  Maybe I’ll try Kura on Airport Rd. next.  I LOVE track sushi.

If you want to get a little more pricey, Fujiyama on Braker Lane and Jollyville is quite good.  However, I think Sushi Junai 2 on Parmer and Mopac (in the same parking lot as the Fry’s) is better.  They have a $29 (or so) all you can eat menu, and their philly roll is utterly decadent.  And, at least when I was there, I ordered ala carte and spent more than $29, well, they just charged me for the all you can eat.  In fact, two of the three times I was there, they offered me free sushi while I was eating.  I’d recommend them in a heartbeat.  Across Parmer, there is another place called Odaku Sushi, which I have been to a couple of times.  I had the pokedaku bowl and enjoyed it each time.

If you are willing to broaden your search to other types of asian food, the market eatery at H-Mart over on Lakeline is tough to beat.  I especially like the bulgogi hot dog from the street food place towards the back – it is the absolute best!  It is bulgogi on a hot dog bun with melted cheese.  If it weren’t for my having to watch what I eat, I’d eat that every single day!  They also have an interesting bulgogi roll, which is a sushi roll, but with bulgogi instead of fish.  Very interesting asian fusion, for sure!  They do have a Japanese place (Sushi Momo), and it’s very good, but they never seem to have half the things that are on the menu.

They have live music, too, if that’s your thing.  It’s not mine.  But I’ll put up with it for the oishii food!

Not only is there a high quality eatery, but if you go across the wall, there is also a pretty comprehensive store as well.  Don’t go on the weekends, though, if you don’t like people.  There are a LOT of them.

I realize that Texas isn’t exactly East Japan, but I do wish that there were more Japanese-style experiences to choose from.  I find myself envious of the arcades in Odaiba and other places in Japan, with row after row of claw machines, coin pushers, etc.  There’s nothing like that here and it seems like it would be so much fun.

But here’s the thing, and the important thing:  I don’t live in Japan.  I don’t live in Akihabara, or Odaiba, or Shibuya, or any of the interesting places in Japan with lots of interesting, fun things to do.  I live in Austin, Texas.  I guess it’s up to me to bring a bit of Japan here and fuse it into my culture in a way which honors the best of both.

As the Japanese are fond of saying, I will do my best.