13. Tosai, We Miss You (Downtown Kyoto)—KenBack in 2004, one of my favorite restaurant finds was Tosai. Tucked away in a traditional looking house, one block north of the Nishiki-Koji market, downtown. I'm really sad to say that Tosai has closed.
I remember well coming there to have lunch on day it was raining lightly. I slid open the doors and asked, and the women cleaning up and cooking explained that they weren't open. I was bold enough to ask for a recommendation, for a nice vegetarian lunch somewhere close.
I could never have expected that the young woman I asked would put on her outside slippers and walk me three blocks to another place. I held the umbrella as we talked with just a few shared words. She took me to Kosendo-sumi, asked if they could make me lunch, and we said goodbye.
Of course I came back to Tosai that night for dinner. As I entered the crowded restaurant, a different woman met me at the entranceway and started looking around for an open place for me to sit. The woman I met earlier saw me from across the room and said, in English, "He is my friend."
I felt a special connection to Tosai, and I was really looking forward to taking Kathryn there. I grieved when I saw the sign. I missed it by just a month. I wish them well.