Saturday, December 12, 2009

Japanese 101: the Epic Adventure

"I've gotta feeling that tonight's gonna be a good good night..."

Note: I must preface this entry by saying that if you are going to mock me for my blatant geekiness, then please stop reading this now and go watch something terribly generic and awful like The Hills or Gossip Girl, like every other average American with a TV set. Otherwise, you can shut yo mouf. I am my own person and I am quite proud of that fact. Thank you. Carry on...

"tonight's gonna be a good niiight..."
I should have played that song in my head yesterday morning, but there was audition music and awful Japanese techno and Korean girl-bands playing instead.

After a late afternoon voice lesson, I got a text from a friend in my Japanese class to meet them at Astor Place for a night of hanging out and general merriment.

Before we continue, I must introduce to you my friend group of Japanese class. Since I didn't take pictures, I drew them instead.


Andy: Speaks fluent Korean. Possibly the most "normal" of all of us, he is also most likely a ninja.

Winston: Scratch that, Winston is probably way more normal than Andy. He's chill and cool. He hails from the nation of Taiwan. 'Sup.

Jye-san: Far too adorable and awesome, she hails from the nation of China and sings in Mandarin. <3

Steven: Could be an MT major in a heartbeat but chooses to sing Korean pop music instead. Which I fully support. He'll be famous before me-- also speaks fluent Korean (and always makes better grades in Japanese than me.)

Dylan: Oh Jesus. Dylan, Dylan, Dylan. Where do I start? He's a self-proclaimed, perverted, anime lover with a weird, weird love for Asian females. And somehow he fits perfectly into our group. I hope that doesn't say anything about the rest of us.

Osiris: He has an Egyptian name and he can eat rice like nobody's business. Pretty quiet generally, but will randomly spout something subtly hilarious. Oh, and his hair is longer than most girls'.

Me: I'm your resident waspy female taking a Japanese class 'cause it sounded like fun. The boys spent most of the night trying to get me and Jye to make out. It didn't work.


1. We meet up at the Astor place Starbucks. It's friggin cold the whole night.

2. Tiny Japanese hole-in-the-wall joint where nothing is over five bucks and most of them don't speak English. All of the customers were Japanese, hardcore (That's how you know it's legit.) We got seated in the back and pigged out on yaki sake onigiri (grilled salmon rice balls) and sashimi and miso soup and eel and dumplings and anything else Japanese. Since the menu and bill were only in Japanese, it was good practice. And cheap.

3. We head over to a Tokyo toy store and Dylan dashes in to Pomme Frites because I mention "oh, that's a really good place to get fries." He's intensely thin, yet he eats a full course meal every five minutes. Anyway. We go inside the toy store and it's amazing and I have to restrain myself from buying every Gloomy Bear and Hello Kitty item known to man.

4. After that, we all head a couple blocks away and I quickly get some takoyaki (fried octopus dumplings) since, hey, it's like a night of Asian madness, and I may as well.

5. The Japanese supermarket. Our professor, Kurahara, had mentioned this store and how all the Japanese people in NYC go there, so we went and oh lord is it magical. No one spoke English (this is a common thing throughout the night) and we bought Pocky and noodles and oh my god whatever that Hello Kitty snack is and I don't know because I can't read Japanese and is this egg flavored? And then, why would they make Hello Kitty marshmallow snacks flavored like eggs? Because they're Japanese and they do what they want. (I realize this didn't make sense. It was my thought process at the time)

6. From there, we had some time before the real fun part of the night, so we went to a restaurant called Saigon-- due to certain delightful circumstances we got to pay about twenty percent of the original price, and this is a friggin nice restaurant. It's huge and fancy and the food is AMAZING. Our table shared fried noodles and shrimp dumplings and spring rolls and Thai tea (on the house) and rice and some kind of kimchi-beef thing (which I didn't eat because I don't eat beef or kimchi) but it was amazing. Brilliant restaurant. You should go there, and take your girlfriend to impress her.

7. Ba ba baaaammm...... KOREAN KARAOKE TIME.
So there's this Korean Karaoke bar place in the tiny but bustling K-town of Manhattan that Steven knew of. We got there and had to wait-- the place was packed busy, even so late at night. Our karaoke session didn't start until 11:45, a couple minutes after we arrived.

So we get there and the place is dark, with disco/ravey lights, a bar, and this really cool, dark atmosphere that's hard to describe. The music is thumping and loud, and hosts are dressed in classy black vests and suits, serving drinks and fruit trays to rooms. Here's the thing: Asian countries' karaoke is different from America's because rather than make a fool of yourself in front of a huge restaurant, your group of friends rents a room by the hour. This is your karaoke room, and there are two large TV screens, couches, a coffee table, two songbooks, and two microphones. So we went in and Steven and Andy (the two Korean-speakers) work out our deal with the hosts, and we went into the room and started plugging songs into the computer for us to play.

I sang Japanese songs, I sang English songs, I sang Korean songs that I didn't know what the fuck was going on but I sang them anyway-- we did everything. Everyone sang everything. We stayed in that room for THREE HOURS OF AWESOMENESS AND MERRIMENT. The time flew by far too quickly. The host kept bringing us beer and beautiful fruit trays-- it was so, so marvelous. And each time the host would enter the room, Andy or Steven would thank them and order more things in Korean (which is a highly attractive language, much more mature sounding than Japanese but less harsh than Mandarin.) We sang, we danced, we drank, we ate, we laughed, we sang some more, and we made absolute fools of ourselves in the best way possible. Jye serenaded us in her native language of Mandarin, Steven crooned Korean boy-band songs, Osiris and Dylan belted Beatles songs, and Andy and I acted out Barbie Girl because that's how we roll. It was pretty hilarious.

So we left the karaoke joint by... er... three something, and stumbled back out into the cold, bleak night of New York. By that time we were all pretty tired, but it took us two more hours of walking around the city and train-hopping before we somehow ended up back at the school and half the group had to go all the way back up to Queens.

The Japanese 101 Group's Epic Adventure came to a quiet close as I happily dragged my tired feet into bed, throwing aside my new Gloomy Bear bag, now full of Pocky and complimentary yogurt drinks from the Koreans. It was a good, good night.


Next entry: the differences in friend groups: theatre people vs. Japanese class people


laurenlorraine said...

I LOVE your cartoon versions of people. As always. I actually always decorate the cork boards in my dorm rooms with birthday cards and letters you have sent me that have cartoons of us.

Also, that night was EPIC. It's so cool that you have all those amazing places to go to right there. I can't wait to live in a city too!

icjangalang said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
icjangalang said...

Dayum I look sexy in that pic lol. And ur missing a few pounds in urs. Lolol jkjk. yea that night was pretty fun. We should hang out again sometime.

PS. Howd u find out I was a ninja?!