My favourite izakaya chain Ryoba just opened a new location closer to our apartment. My roommates Azeroth and Palmer texted me at work to let me know they were going to check it out in the evening. I invited Super Dave to come with me after work.
Super Dave and I walked for about 15 minutes from Numazu station to find the izakaya. We were in the middle of a conversation about something when we saw the Ryoba sign outside a building with several businesses. Distracted, we walked into the first door we came to. We didn’t see Azeroth or Palmer, but assumed they were running late and took a seat at the nearest table. The waiter came by and we both ordered beer.
Most Ryoba locations have a distinct style – tatami mat floors with low tables and cushions. Super Dave and I noticed that the establishment we were in featured booth seats and yakiniku grills in all of the tables. We both assumed that it was a variation on the theme, and continued talking and drinking our beer.
A few minutes later I got a text message from Azeroth asking where we were. I responded that we were in Ryoba. He said that they had been in Ryoba for about 10 minutes and hadn’t seen us yet. At about this time, the waiter came up with a yakiniku menu and asked if we were ready to order.
I asked the waiter in Japanese if we were in Ryoba. He said that no, Ryoba was next door.
I apologized and asked for the bill for the beer. The waiter laughed when I explained that we walked into the wrong restaurant because we can’t read Japanese well. (We both could read Japanese well enough, but were just not paying attention to the signs!)
As expected, we took a good amount of abuse from Palmer and Azeroth when we finally arrived at Ryoba. This is a valuable lesson in paying attention to what you are doing, especially when you are not using your first language!!