• May 2015
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'Churm in Asia'  

Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Sukhee Kang stood at the end ...
I’m exhausted and hungry and I haven’t...
I’m exhausted and hungry and I haven’t missed a single meal halfway through this eight-day friendship-and-trade mission to the Far East. The truth is I’m so busy trying to mind my p's and q's that I have missed entire courses. Mind you, I was raised right and it’s been a long time since my table manners were called into question. But the fear of creating an international incident here in Tsukuba has my stomach in knots. I’m approaching each meal with a detailed game plan that would make Emily Post proud. I’ve created a cheat sheet of “Do's and Don’ts” that I study right up to mealtime. It’s a wonder I’ve even been able to focus for more than five minutes on the business at hand, touring Irvine’s sister city of Tsukuba and, more importantly, developing business ties in north Asia.

From where to place the chopsticks on the table to who pours who a beverage and when, I’m a stress-mess as I try to impress our foreign hosts with the California cool. Cool? Hell, I’m a perspiring pool of nerves as I survey each dining room looking for clues and tip offs on my next move. Seasoned world travelers or diplomats know this etiquette inside and out. But so far I’ve been about as smooth at meals as a preschooler at the adult table for Thanksgiving. And what’s with no napkins? We get a washcloth to start each meal, so at least I start tidy and clean. But by the third course, using chopsticks on rice, finger-sized vegetables and Japanese delicacies, I’m done. Just hose me down.

Food is great, in fact, it's world class. Though someone forgot to tell me it was braised beef cheek (yes, you read that right) until I finished half of what I told Assistant City Manager Wally Kreutzen was a short rib. Delicious, but I’m still pondering which cheek I had. Oh well, I’m certain I’ll get better at this once we reach South Korea. However, Patrick Strader of Starpointe Ventures has promised more culinary surprises when we reach Seoul. Great, I am barely getting out of Japan with Churm Media’s reputation hanging by a thread, and now I’m going to a city known for street food of any spice. This trip is better than Nutrisystem.

Help! All I want to do is order a No. 2 at Wahoo’s and relax.

Patrick Strader of Starpointe Ventures
and Emile Haddad of Five Point Communities
at lunch in Tsukuba.

Take a look at a traditional Japanese lunch
in Tsukuba.

Here are appetizers at a French-Japanese restaurant in Japan.
All 24 guests received the exact same plate.
Fish, vegetables and a chicken ball.