Could I possibly be in the red light district?
Anytime I ask this question, which isn’t often, the answer is more likely to be yes than no. The illicit parts of town rarely have defined borders, maps, tourist information, or warnings. The indicators are usually subtile, at least they where until we stumbled upon a shop with a 7 foot vagina entrance. No question. Red. Light. District. How we escaped this encounter without a picture, is still beyond me.
Like most of Tokyo, we went to Shibuya without a plan. It isn’t a gem, or a hidden secret, it’s often billed as Tokyos Times Square. Most go for the famous “six way crossing”, a frothing mess of people trying to get home or go out. Bright lights and disjointed noise randomly drove us to quieter streets and eventually to the architectural genitals.
My past experience, at least with 82nd and Powell, is that this is the perfect part of town to look for food. This is where we found The Funky Chicken.
We saw the general lack of english, a sign or menu as good omens. The collection 45rpm records in the window where all the convincing we needed. Being prepared for (nearly) anything, we where still shocked when we walked into a hardcore soul bar. Our greeters where a young Otis Redding and a blast of cigarette smoke. Records lined the walls of a room which was 40% open kitchen and 60% seating. Somehow, worked into the shelf margins is a bar. Sake and japanese whisky, crammed between cassette tapes and VHS. I can’t read the booze bottles but the video labels read like a top shelf of soul music; Sam Cooke, Isley Brothers, James Brown and Soultrain 1970 something to 80-something. Otis is sweating inside a huge CRT TV on a wobbly looking shelf.
The lady smiles at us with ease and sincerity. She does her best to help us order, we roll the dice, as we have so many times. The cook has slicked back, jet black hair, cropped tight on the sides, wearing all denim with black converse. He looks at us through big round glasses, but doesn’t smile. He moves like lightning, as we gawk with giddy from behind the short bar, arm reach away. What arrives minutes later is exquisite. From there we adopt the watch and point tactic. Quickly we clone an order from the chain-smoking/drinking business man to my right. What arrives is a flaming pot of something. We don’t know what it is, but Eddie thinks he spots some quail eggs in it. It was amazing to watch be made. What we tasted was beyond.