Jul 23, 2010

Trouble Bagel

This "ethnical tuna" kind of encapsulates everything that makes going to Bagel and Bagel a dissonant experience. They put some tuna salad with Thai chili sauce on a bagel - that's fine, sort of. But what to call it? The Japanese has it as "ethnic," which is not wrong, just lazy. And then the English? "Hey, let's make the vague adjective a little adjectivier! Some English words have 'al' at the end, let's go with that."  Grr. 
In the same way, Bagel and Bagel itself looks like a familiar experience, but isn't. And that's what makes it tricky. Say I go eat ramen for breakfast. I know I'm having a Japanese experience and I expect it to be unfamiliar. But I see all these bagels, a list of cream cheese options, three sizes of coffee in paper cups - I feel like I'm on familiar ground. The little differences stack up and I realize, again, I'm not in Brooklyn anymore. 
I order the coffee and bagel set, with cream cheese. Oh, you'd like a cream cheese sandwich? Er, okay, sure. Well, that will be 75 yen more. If you want it as a set, you have to get the cream cheese and honey bagel sandwich. Alright then, cream cheese and honey sandwich, hold the honey. 
That's for here, right? Er. It's 8:46 on a week day and I'm getting a bagel for chrissakes, the very thought of a bagel "for here" is confusing to me. 
Also, could I please get milk in my coffee? Cream is over the trash can over there. Yes, but I'd love some real milk, please, not those thimbles of Creap (actual name). Even if I did dig petrochemical (guessing) whitener, I'd rather not fiddle with opening five of them and waiting for the viscous stuff to drain out. And, I don't want to have to deconstruct the careful to-go packaging to get the cup out. Oh, no, this requires a consultation with someone in the back of the kitchen. I feel a bit guilty, being a difficult customer with strange demands. Final verdict: I get the real milk. Yes! Thank you and sorry. 
I do walk out with a sesame bagel with cream cheese and a coffee. Yes, it is wonderful that this can happen in Tokyo. The end result is fantastic, if a little chewy. But I never feel further from home than in a place like this that feels almost, well, New Yorkial.


mo said...

Hahahaha ohhh Bagel & Bagel. I only discovered it on my most recent trip (this winter) and was simply shocked and amazed to even FIND bagels in Japan. But it's good to hear the opinion of someone who KNOWS their bagels & coffee (yes, the New Yorkial touch).

I had a good experience at the Bagel & Bagel in Tokyo-eki, but then again I was not trying to get bagel & cream cheese & coffee during morning rush. My other experience was when my host family actually got a Bagel & Bagel Fukubukuro at New Years -- another "chotto chigau" thing if you ask me, the combo of fukubukuro and BAGELS!?!? I did really like the Earl Grey flavor though.

I have never heard anyone talk about those little cream things for the coffee, but "thimbles of Creap" describes it perfectly (CREAP??)...

And I think "ethnical" is my new favorite Engrish.

Andrew Lightheart said...

See also: Singapore. Salads. Fish and Chips. Sandwiches.

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