The next day was spent with an itinerary, a mission, and on objective. No, pale, taller Jack Bauer was not going to stop a terrorist plot unless Al-Qaeda was going to hit a golf course, casino, or a wonderfully delicious Japanese restaurant tucked into a strip mall inside Vegas’ adjacent Chinatown.
The only explosions would be coming from a borrowed driver as F-Train was kind enough to pick up three people of Nordic stock in myself, Pebbles, and Bam-Bam along with my now awake and caffeinated roommate Joe Speaker were ready to destroy the course and clubhouse bar (in some cases one more than the other). Not everyone plays slots at 3am half-drunk in their pajamas before golf?
Meeting up with Dr. Chako and friend we split up into a foursome (Doc, Pebbles, Bam-Bam, and Doc’s friend) while I taught F-Train and Joe Speaker on the finer points of the Lebron James outline to perfect golf.
a) Win lots of money performing well in the regular season
b) Shut down like a five year old who didn’t get their naps and refuses to eat the asparagus
Long Drive? Check. Closest to Pin? Check. Skins? Check. Raving Speaker on giving me strokes and shooting near par for the first time in my life? Youbetcha.
However when the second half came and like Mr. James' ability to flop in the playoffs, so did my swing, my shoulder, and my chances of winning as Speaker’s brand of golf billiards using poor, defenseless winged animals as rails would prove to be victorious this day as dusk rapidly approached and many beers and stories needed to be consumes within the spacious bar/clubhouse.
Back to the strip after nearly paying for my round thanks to Speaker’s Taylor Made Burner driver and a lofty 6 iron that sailed with the majestic flow of a seagull about to land on a sea-hardened wooden pier. Quick change and we were off again, this time for what has become a tradition for myself and many WPBT’ers. A nice sit down meal that does not involve 70s rockers, salad troughs, or former Penthouse Pets dancing behind frosted screens (lets make this one a reality, but they better serve excellent hot wings).
A green rectangular sign stating “Chinatown” similar to “Maple Grove” when I drive home was past as this was my first adventure or even knowledge that such a town existed next to the monuments of gambling. Raku meaning “Charcoal Grill House Enjoyment” according to the website has an alternate meaning that would be shared by those who sat down at the very table pictured on the front page of the website.
A wave with an undercurrent of food soon graced our table as many pleaded for a second or third stomach as giant pitchers of Sapporo were the only constant along with the banter consistent with just intelligent minds pouring over fish made six different ways and in some cases remade. Personally, there it was only my second time being forced to use chopsticks, the first being a family meal with a Korean friend but his mother was kind enough to take two tongue depressors with a spacer and tape them together as his soon-to-be restaurateur younger sister giggle at the American trying to pick up squid with them.
I will leave the culinary critique to those that actually have eaten or cooked with half the ingredients used on Chopped, and are used to fine dining as my experience with dinners that cost as much as my family’s weekly grocery bill is limited to these yearly splurges. Make no mistake, I soaked in every ounce that I could in conversation, atmosphere, and beer. And despite the lack of a fortune cookie at the end of the meal, Raku is for you. Then again the people surrounding this table could make the buffet at Excalibur seem like a Michelin award winning spread.
My memory is a little fuzzy by this point as the next memory is waking up SOBER (getting old?) for the WPBT tournament at Aria. And that will need to wait for another day.