August 15th, 2005


Tokyo Delve

For my birthday, I was taken to Tokyo Delve's Sushi Bar, and a show at the El Portal theatre.

Tokyo Delve warrants some verbage. The exterior of the restaraunt is covered over in bright lights, American flags, 50's style cars, and various other garish designs. This is a picture of tasteful restraint compared to the interior, which could probably be described best as ... well, imagine that the top floor of a Christmas light factory blew up, flew up into low orbit, and then smashed back into earth in the middle of a disco-ball factory. That's sort of like the interior of Tokyo Delve - though it leaves out the blaring loud music, and the waiters, bartenders, and sushi-chefs who holler at you when you walk in the door.

Tokyo Delve is less of a restaraunt and more of an experience. The sushi was damn fine - to be clear - the fish was cut in the elegant tradition style, well matched to the classically proportioned pats of sushi-rice. Its' not in the typical California style, where there's half a fish slapped on top of a postage-stamp of rice, so I liked it quite a bit. We also had edamame, which were a bit cool, and perhaps a touch under-salted...but then again, maybe my gaijin palate is just too crass to appreciate subtelties. The point is, it's good sushi, and good eats, but that's not the reason to go to Tokyo Delve.

No, the real reason to go is the ruckus and the ballyhoo. We ordered a "sake bomb" - mostly because our bartender, Mike, told us to to "get ya started". They brought out two Sapporo Gold's and mugs, and a carafe of hot sake. (for the record, they had an extensive list of different kinds of sake, if that's your thing.) Mike set two chopsticks across both the mugs, and rested the sake tumblers on the chopsticks. Then all the waiters and Mike, the bartender, circled around us in some strange sake-bukakke ritual, and shouted, "Sake!" "Bomb!" "Sake!" "BOMB!" The Mike pounded the bar top, and the tumblers fell into the beer, and we were vigorously encourage to drink it down. (My date slugged hers down a fraction of a second faster than I did, I'm both embarassed and proud to report...) That certainly loosened us up for the rest of the show meal.

There were several song-and-dance routines throughout the evening, ranging from strange lip-synced versions of old 'N'Sync songs (the bartender is reputed to be the sixth member of the band, see...) and a musical review of dance styles of various decades, interrupted by the "phantom of the sushi bar" who for some reason, really wanted to disco. People celebrating things were made to stand on their chairs - songs were sung at people, there was a rumba line, there was a limbo contest... the whole thing was inexplicable and zany in an earnestly unironic way that is very Japanese.

I had one hell of a time. When the cake (signifying my wonderful birthday) was brought around, I angrily demanded that Mike-the-bartender and my date were not singing loud enough. They redoubled their efforts, and I reluctantly let them off the hook. Mostly because there was cake, and I wanted to eat it.

Unfortunately, we had to rush out as there were several "seatings" throughout the night, and ours was over at 8. All was well since the show we had tickets for started at 8, anyway.... but I think it would be great fun to go back at a seating that was at the end of the night so we could be raucous for a good long while without worrying about getting hustled out.

Tokyo Delve was great. It's in North Hollywood. Go there. Bring friends. Drink sake, eat sushi!