We follow a matronly woman in a kimono through switchback corridors to a private room overlooking another garden. We order two bottles of beer - a Kirin for me, an Asahi for him - and chat politely until the matron returns with starters. In Japanese fashion we pour each other's beer. As I'm in the presence of an author, I ask him to describe the meal before us.
"Oh blimey, now I'm in trouble," he says. His voice reminds me of David Brent in The Office. "Well, we have the usual array of... [he backtracks, to be more gracious], a superior, but not uncommon, array of sashimi, probably out of the sea this morning, I'm guessing, and a variant of a tofu. And some things in here," he says, pointing to mysterious delicacies in two little glass cases, "that, quite frankly, I couldn't say what they are. I don't normally come to places this gorgeous." Then, leaning into my tape recorder, he puts on a sports commentator's voice and reads out a mock headline: "David Mitchell. Doesn't Know His Way Around Japanese Cuisine. Shocker."
Read the entire article.--Marshal Zeringue