From t’archives – Woktastic review.

Woktastic is coming back soon, in a new location that isn’t connected to Paradise Forum. Many years ago, I wrote a restaurant review and haven’t written one since. After reading this, you’ll probably find out why. Mind the cobwebs, it’s a remastered piece of filler, right out of 2010 –

Food. Food is good. I don’t know much about food, nor do I know much about eating out in Birmingham (no, keep reading, I have a point that I will stumble into shortly). What I do know is that there’s a really great Japanese restaurant called Woktastic in our fair city. It’s just outside the Paradise Forum (which is not great), opposite The Yardbird (which I’m ambivalent toward). It’s undoubtedly the campiest restaurant in Birmingham, if not the country. Its bright orange walls, even more intensely orange-uniformed staff, and multicoloured sushi dishes assault your senses and taste of decency all at once. I swear, I almost had an epileptic fit just walking into the place once; the Japanese pop playing over the sound system threatened to give me aural diabetes. Oh, and the food? It’s actually rather delicious, with a great all you can eat deal on sushi, and I highly recommend the chicken katsu with a glass of plum wine.

I just have one problem: the manager. Oh, he’s not rude or anything; the service in Woktastic is actually second-to-none. Look, this is a bit of an odd situation, but I need to let this out to someone, so it might as well be you. The manager, he… thinks my name is Stan (my name is Hazz). Here’s what happened: I once impersonated my friend Stan, as he didn’t want to cancel a booking in person, so I did it for him, claiming to be Stan, and now every time I go in there, the guy thinks I’m called Stan. What do I do? Do I just… tell him? No, I can’t do it. I can’t tell him that I’m not Stan.

“That’s not a real problem, Hazz, you goddamn nutcase, chill out.”

Oh, but it is a problem, dearest reader, for you see, I have to book a birthday party (yes, you’re invited, bring a gift) there soon, which means I’ll have to give him my name. My real name. Did I mention my name isn’t Stan? What do I do? I can’t just tell the guy I’m not Stan, that’d be hideously embarrassing, I’m too much of a social maladroit to have that conversation; the awkward, ghastly shamespeech where I have to explain I attempted to bamboozle him, I tried to play a ruse upon him. I have committed… uragiri against him and his people.. Actually, I think he’s Italian, but it doesn’t bloody matter, he’s lovely and I’ve stabbed him in his very friendly back. Let me explain how lovely he is. He’s charming, he’s welcoming, the guy always comes over to have a chat, he brings me a fork so I can eat my currysauce-sodden rice without looking like a special needs kid, he has a lovely, shiny bald head; he engages in friendly banter, he wears nice shirts, he’s generally just bloody ace.

No, I can’t break his heart.

I can’t correct him next time he calls me Stan. What’d that do to our relationship? He’d lose face, surely? I’d be bringing shame upon his name, his restaurant, his family. No, I can’t do that, I can’t reveal that I’m an identity thief.

No, I won’t let that happen. I know what I must do: I must continue this charade. I must live a double life. I must become Stan. I must live as Stan. Stan’s a thin Chinese dude, I’m a not-thin white guy, but that doesn’t matter. I will be Stan.

I am Stan.

Try the chicken yakitori, it’s delicious.

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