Lunch at Bamiyan
Sunday, May 7, 2006
Day 2 Continued
Day two in Japan: We arranged to meet a new co-worker who was going to pick us up and take us to lunch “on the economy.” This is what everyone calls it when you shop or eat locally off the American military base. However, we were jet-lagging so terribly, getting up at 4am, so by about 10am we were done with everything we could think to do on the small military base. We sat in the food court next to the Post Exchange. I was shocked to see so many people eating there. I guess it’s popular among the local US civilians and military. It has a Burger King, Popeye’s Chicken and Antonio’s Pizza.
About 10 minutes later, our lunch friend showed up with his son. They had come to get something at the PX and saw us sitting in the food court. We’ve found that this happens all the time. Living at Camp Zama is like living in a very small town. There are only about 1200 people here so you will run into someone you know every time you leave the house.
Since we were all at the PX together, our friend offered to take us around the Post and give us a tour before lunch. Camp Zama is a small quaint Army post full of beautiful trees and scenery. It was quiet and clean, and very beige.
After the Post tour, our friend, Ed, drove us to a local Chinese-style Japanese restaurant called Bamiyan. No one spoke English, but the servers were very polite. The restaurant was up a flight of stairs, above the parking area. The room was bright and colorful with lots of windows.
When we were seated, the waitress gave us a little electronic box that rang a bell in the kitchen when you were ready to order. This is how you call your server here. When you need something, you just push the button on your remote ringer and the server heads out from the kitchen to see to your needs.
After making sure my 3yo daughter didn’t ring it 8 or 10 times, we focused on the menu. It was entirely in Japanese, but thankfully, there were excellent pictures of every dish they offered. Ed gave us a quick description of his favorite dishes and we rang our bell to call the server.
Ordering reminded me of cave man days when people communicated with grunts and gestures. We did a lot of pointing, but the server somehow managed to understand what we all wanted. We also ordered the Drink Bar which is a self-serve, all-you-can-drink counter with all their beverage selections. This was much like something you’d find back home, except with strange and new beverages. There were several different kinds of tea, something called Calpis water (which we all really love — it’s like a sweet, non-carbonated grapefruit juice and is milky white colored), Coke and Grape Fanta. I noticed a bucket full of little containers of Gum Tree Syrup that looked almost like little creamer containers. It took me a minute to realize that they were for sweetening the tea or iced coffee. I got tea from the drink bar, added ice cubes from the ice bucket using small silver tongs and sweetened it with the Gum Tree Syrup. I can’t believe I actually managed to move all the way to Japan and still find “sweet tea.” Won’t all my Southern friends be proud of me! It was very good, but different from anything at home.
The food was AMAZING. We ordered Bamiyan Fried Rice, a noodle dish, some spring rolls and coconut pounded rice balls for desert. Everything we got was so delicious. The meal was great and I was so glad that Ed selected this fantastic restaurant as our introduction to local cuisine.