At the end of

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At the end of the day, tired & hungry, we often opt for whatever food is easy and quick either at home or in a familiar neighborhood restaurant. We avoid the more challenging experiences like seeking out new restaurants of questionable character--the izzakaya beer pubs, the little yakitori shops presided over by a middle aged Mama-san. They look interesting, but...

The trouble is that sometimes they always seem full of regular customers who maybe aren't too comfortable with strangers--especially foreigners. Even though Tod speaks passable Japanese and I limp along, we are not the easiest people to talk to.

But every time we screw up our courage and go into one, we walk away wondering why we hadn't tried it before. Last night we stopped into a yakitori places that I've been wanting to try for almost a year.

And it was a great experience. The owner greeted us warmly and after asking a few questions, engaged the other customers in our lives by repeating back exactly what we had told her even though they certainly must have overheard since they were sitting within a foot of us. "These customers live in Nishikata. They have lived in Tokyo for three years. Aren't they skillful with their chopsticks?" That brought others into the conversation and we managed to chat for about half an hour with a man and his wife on topics other than our chopstick skill.

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