Even though I’d moved to Portland, Oregon far from the Mexican border, I still ate Mexican food at a rapid, rabid pace.So when I found a hand-painted sign on the Tokyo street listing “Mexico tacos” and nothing more, I got excited.
I wanted to taste their creations and share them on the magazine’s website. “Mexican food” is the vague umbrella term we use for food originally cooked in different parts of Mexico, which is an enormous, diverse country not unlike India.
But when you’re eating it in Japan, as told by a white guy/gaijin/gringo who grew up in Arizona, cultural distinctions mattered less.
But the seed was planted: There was an enormous, untapped economic and cultural opportunity to serve authentic, delicious Mexican food in an enchanting place that had little of it.
There were crazier ideas — not that I was pursuing those either, but it felt good knowing I wasn’t the craziest of the crazy. In the midst of handmade onigiri vendors, donburi chains, and unagi restaurants, why not sell street tacos?
Rather than leftover space, this was standard Tokyo efficiency. Chain donburi automats like , and an abundance of udon, ramen, and sushi. When I climbed the narrow staircase to the fourth floor, the restaurant was closed. A small cook station overlooked a clutter of wooden tables.
These places filled my belly with succulent novelties and comforting carbs soaked in fat. Cactus drawings decorated the signs amid Japanese characters.
I do.) Substitutions can be creative opportunities rather than deficiencies.
When readers invented something delicious, I’d invite them to email and tell me.
“When it’s gone,” I told Rebekah, “I seriously might cry.” I used tube after tube of the toothpastes I bought from Tokyu Hands department store, starting with the Darjeeling tea flavor and working through the matcha, honey, and pumpkin pudding.
And I made significant dents in the bottles of Hakushu whisky and Suntory Old Whisky that I packed in my carry-on luggage. In that narrow ten-seat bar in Shinjuku, we traded laughs and stories, shared raw pig intestine sashimi, and he gave me my first taste of umeboshi shochu.