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Kobe of Shockoe Slip
By Christine Stoddard
Let's make a healthy generalization for a moment and say that every Quail Bell(e) wants to live in a Sophia Coppola film. My pick? Lost in Translation, if for nothing other than the trance of Toyko. I don't want to be Scarlett Johansson, but I definitely want to be where her character is. A friend's birthday recently afforded me the taste of the metropolitan prefecture in my own sweet and sleepy Richmond, Virginia.
The evening started at 6 p.m. I had just left the office to pick up the birthday girl from her apartment in the Fan. Then we bumped our way over potholes and cobblestones until we found downtown parking. After walking half a block up Cary Street, we rounded the corner onto South 13th. At last, an oasis. Our destination, Kobe Japanese Steaks and Sushi, welcomed us on a seasonably chilly Monday night with warmth in all senses of the word: a smiling hostess, the golden glow of ambient lights, and cooking steam in the air. The beautiful interior—a mix of Richmond post-Civil War and Tokyo cool—impressed us from the moment we stepped in and took off our coats. At Kobe, Historic Shockoe Slip meets the Land of the Rising Sun. I imagined the ghost of Commodore Matthew C. Perry trailing behind us as the bubbly hostess guided us to our table.
Ordering was a straight-forward affair. Our spacious booth afforded us plenty of room to stretch out and open our big menus. We poured over all the delectable descriptions until we made up our minds. The sound of Gummi Bear Sake being irresistible, I indulged. My friend chose the Creamsicle Sake, coincidentally my close second choice. I could've sworn I was drinking candy—and only the highest quality stuff at that. Deciding to go a little more grown-up for my entree, I selected the ginger pork, presented as "thinly sliced pork tenderloin and onions sauteed in our signature ginger sauce" on the menu. My friend, a vegetarian, went for the fried tofu udon instead. I loved how tender my pork was, with just the right amount of spice (nothing that left me wanting a breath mint afterwards.) My friend and I ate as much as we could without turning into chubby koi! But composure be damned. We left stuffed.
Domo arigato gozaimasu, Kobe, for a hot meal in a chic place. Especially at the height of winter, we could all use a little escape.
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