Wednesday, July 29, 2009

bowl with noodles; bowl without

Any number of years ago, while living in England, we stumbled upon a newer place in London called Wagamama. It’s a noodle house that I believe opened in the early ‘aughts in the Bloomsbury area of the city. If I’m not completely insane, I vaguely remember that the owner came from a long list of successful joints he’d either run or chef’d at in the past. The general room configuration is rows of wooden tables that seat 10 or 12 down each side and people simply sit side-by-side ignoring the conversations ongoing to the left and right or, taking the opportunity to engage with other humans (see our tea experience). L, in particular, loved to eat at Wagamama at every opportunity when we were in the City five or six times a year. The huge bowls of steaming noodles, the open kitchen layout, and the bustle of the London crowd at night was always enjoyable; she’d spent a couple hours hunting the huge noodles with her poorly-executed chopstick ability. It’s a place we’ve missed over the years – vaguely hanging in that dark corner of our past lives. I’m sure the franchise has expanded quite a bit in England (they’d added more in London before we left) but I’m not sure if they’ve been able to maintain the quality and kick ass-ness of the original; maybe I could do a little research and divine expansion quality. What brings this up is that as Laurel and I were walking from our dinner to the theatre on Friday night I was telling her that my favorite bookstore, Olsson’s, used to have a great location on 7th St. NW in the Penn Quarter – we were approaching the very block of its location, hence the story – but this locally-owned chained went bankrupt early last year and my favorite hangout in the area had been shuttered. As I’m relaying this horribly interesting story I point across 7th to what had been the store’s location and, lo’ and behold, the store front windows are covered with lovely signs announcing that a Wagamama is to open in 2010. Great joy was expressed by both of us as we danced around and dreamt of returning, once again, to our beloved noodle restaurant sometime next year. Laurel, realizing how much I love bookstores, and knowing how much she loves Wagamama, pointed out rather sardonically that the bookstore died for a higher calling; I couldn’t agree more.

My father and uncle have been visiting since Saturday and X pointed out to me after dinner last night, clear of the guests that had departed, that my storytelling ability is just like my father’s. I not sure what word she used but it wasn’t anything that resembled great, fantastical, enthralling, or good. In truth, it was a funny conversation as much as anything else but she’s challenged me to tell all my stories in no more than five or six sentences. So, in the spirit of that challenge I’ll retell the Wagamama story within the confines of that call to arms.

Laurel and I used to eat at a place call Wagamama in London. We both loved the noodles and chatter of the crowd. Laurel is visiting this month and we noticed that a Wagamama is scheduled to open in the Penn Quarter sometime next year. Maybe when she’s here next summer we can partake of the noodles. There used to be a bookstore there. Hooray!


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