Yamaya - Anchorage, AK

We have almost finished my self established goal of playing all 50 states. I believe we only have a couple states left, but I definitely thought Alaska would come a lot later than it did. I'm not sure if it is like this for everyone, but I fell in love with Alaska a lot quicker than I thought it was to fall in love with a place. The horizons all around you are beautiful, everything is an Ansel Adams photograph. It's expansive, wild, romantic, and there is a sense that it's is truly the last frontier.


Young Girl: "Hello Yamaya"

Me: "Hi I'm calling to see if I need to make a reservation for a party of 8?"

Young Girl: "Oh you should be alright, what time are you thinking?"

Me: "Probably around 5:30PM."

Young Girl: "Ok yeah that's fine."

Me: "Ok great see you then."


Sounds simple right? Should have been. When we walked in the old lady behind the counter immediately gave us the stink eye. I could feel her staring a hole through me, a tangible tension was in the air. So, our party had grown, it went from 8 people to 11. Not many more and I didn't even think it would be a problem to bring MORE people at 530pm. Early dinner guests in a large party in any other situation would be great for a restaurant right?

Oh how wrong I am. This lady seemed genuinely upset that we had brought such a large group. She was wondering why we hadn't made a reservation, why we would bring 11 people, why, why, why? Well of course I explained I had called and talked to the young lady. Then she started in on her grand daughter! "Why didn't you tell me!" All in broken English and Japanese. Of course at this point all of us are quite confused. Should we leave? Is she kidding? I've already ordered several dishes and the husband is in the back making the dishes already. What do we do?

Well we stuck it out. Once the food started coming out, for sure I thought the old lady would calm down a little. Again, I was wrong. She kept repeating "11 people . . . 11 people . . . 11 people." I'm starting to get it. Her English was limited and she realized that we were laughing every time she brought up our inconsideration. It was all a joke? Right? Must have been. But to be honest with you, at this point I couldn't care. The food was coming out, and it was delicious. The man in the kitchen was so skillful in his flavor combinations, the ingredients were so fresh, the noodles were plump and chewy. I was absolutely blown away that such a restaurant would be so far from the mainland and be in such an odd spot. Maybe there's something to the old lady's banter? Maybe she doesn't WANT people to know about this little gem? If that's the case, I'm sorry old lady, but thank you for the amazing food!

--Joe Kwon