Back when I worked near Shimbashi, I often ate at the same restaurant two, sometimes three nights a week. It served simple, hearty food like katsu curry, croquettes, and the like. The place did decent business, but it wasn’t too crowded, and I could always find a seat. I would open up a magazine, order the usual, and unwind from another day at work. The place was located on the basement level of the New Shimbashi Building ニュー新橋ビル, a name that can’t hide the old-fashioned, salary-man milieu of the interior. (map)
Window washers attending to the New Shimbashi Building:
To get to the restaurant, I would pass through the Karasumori exit of Shimbashi Station and enter the building from the south side, more or less across the street from a Yoshinoya. I took the staircase directly from the sidewalk to the basement and. At the base of the stairs I would turn left, passing an improbably spacious coffee shop and a video arcade before reaching my restaurant.
One evening, as I reached the base of the stairs, a girl standing outside a restaurant invited me to try her place. I gave it a shot, and it was decent. The waitress was Chinese, and I had a nice time talking to her about her hometown. I thought this might become an alternative to my usual restaurant.
The next week, I was longing for my usual place, and it didn’t cross my mind to go anywhere else. I took the usual and, when I got to the bottom of the stairs, the same girl was there, along with another waitress. They invited me to try their restaurant, but I politely refused. Instead of smiling and waiting for another customer, they pressed their case, giving the impression of a high school student cajoling a teacher into bumping a B+ into an A-. As I walked away briskly, another man came down the stairs and was subjected to the girls’ hard sell.
On a few more occasions I had to run this gauntlet on my way to the usual restaurant. I felt increasingly annoyed, and worried I would have to abandon my favorite dining spot. Fortunately, I found another way to get to my place. I was so happy about my discovery that I took a few photos of the route.
After dinner I would often have a drink at Cooper Ale’s (map); photo: