Therefore...I eat away from home.
After a long day...spent surrounded by people...musicians, crew members, you name it...nothing is more satisfying than finding a local treasure...no matter where in the country I am...and sitting down to a meal.
Some people can't stand to do it. Me? I revel in the activity. Dining alone in America is one of my favorite pastimes. It allows me to connect with the experience in a whole different way...to really feel what inspires these culinary pioneers to do what they do.
I've had some of the best meals of my life sitting alone in a town you'd never even think of...that you'd never even imagine of being capable of providing a weary traveler with pure soul fuel.
And, that's the beauty of it.
Getting out, discovering something new, and opening yourself to the experience that's possible...
If you just pick up the phone and make that reservation.
Table for One.
Can't wait to share my experiences with you.
table for one
One place...one happy place.
I've been sane...I've been crazed. Blurry or focused. It's seen the best and worst of me. At all hours.
Alone...or with those who mean a lot to me...
Mean the most to me.
It's not just the food...it's...
Broth. Noodles. Spice. Salt. Miso.
Small and always a wait...always worth the wait.
Katana Ya. Geary Street. San Francisco.
I get giddy just typing the name out.
I first found it after waking one afternoon at a hotel around the corner. Wandering out...seeking satisfaction for my stomach and head. Too late for dim sum...hopefully not finding a gem that's closed between those dreaded hours of 230-5pm.
Then...there she was.
One window. Two doors. Red curtains blowing in the wind.
Name goes down on the clipboard.
Standing in the drizzle watching the windows fog up inside. Happy face after happy face in this happy place slurping...raising glasses...begging for more with every bite.
Finally. My turn.
Still the same to this day...
Close tables. People on top of people. Every conversation overheard. 80s and 90s beats dripping down...almost too loud...adding to the energy that takes you over when you enter.
Time to order...
Spicy green onion ramen.
Miso broth. Extra rich.
I've been a hundred times...my order has never changed.
Never changed because my mind and body goes back to that very first time every single time it hits the table again.
You feel it...you actually feel it coming across the room as it approaches you. The server smiles this wry little smile...as if they are handing you the perfect answer to any question you might have ever had. All the time spent waiting and fiddling and making small talk with the table next to you and then...
Your eyes close...you lean forward and take that first deep breath in. It's all you've wanted. It's all you've been waiting for. One perfect breath in...you can taste it by just inhaling. The spice wakes you up...the richness of the miso broth reminds you that you are alive and that, in just a moment, you will attack and know pure joy.
You open your eyes...it's a truly hypnotizing sight. The fresh scallions scattered on top and adding their crispness to the broth. The noodles...the fucking perfect noodles that are just sitting there laughing and knowing just how happy they are going to make you...the absolute definition of texture and bite and bounce on the palate. The slow roasted pork...one single, beautiful slice...it's fat melting away into the already absolute perfection that is the extra rich miso broth.
You shake yourself back into focus...and, remember just why you are here.
The fingers wrap around the bamboo sticks...the stir...collecting the perfect bite.
Not just because it's delicious...because it's so fucking perfect they should put a guy outside with a bullhorn who declares to everyone walking by that if all the problems of the world would just go inside, sit down, and sip some broth that those same problems would emerge from within handling hands and skipping down the street towards Union Square...
Without a care in the world.
I've sat with friends...declaring together the greatness of its flavor and energy.
I've stood with the love of my life...being told by complete strangers while waiting outside just "how great we looked together."
I've been completely alone. But, alone only in the number I put down on that little clipboard that sits outside.
Table for one.
For when I am there...without company...my mind, my heart, my every sense is taken to all those times that have come before.
Every single time.
To my Happy Place.
So…on your next trip to San Franciscio…visit Katana Ya…you will find yourself very happy in that place…
Other recommendations in the area…
Crustacean - plainly put...one of the greatest crab preparations on the planet. Always get the garlic noodles...
Yank Sing - I know...you probably already know...but, it’s insanely great. Soup dumplings...chili sauce...bliss.
Michael Mina - get dressed up, clear out some credit card space, drink something bubbly and just go do it. Tasting menu is the way to go...dive in and I’ll see you at the finish line.