No two steps behind with downcast compliance. Nor patient restraint or cherry blossom humility. Not when theres cheese omelets and rice pilaf; Southern Italian pasta, crustless sandwiches and roast chicken. This is where the buzzed student, decompressed office lady and born to shop housewife meet the all you can eat smorgasbord. The few men, who must be accompanied by women, who dare enter this female stomping ground can only hang back and admire the narrow eyed ignore all calories assault on excess high ground. Triple main courses, eight-cake plates, piled pineapple, kiwi and fresh strawberries become normal tariff inside this temporary free trade zone where kimono prudence suddenly explodes into bubble mania. The mother and middle-aged daughter beside us exercise mean not deviation, racking up plate on plate of blueberry tarts, cream cheese petite fours, mayonaised tuna and lime sorbet; a world class pork out turning being into high horse fields for psycho-analytic speculation. Body type tables stretching to the seriously weight challenged revolve around the floor from groaning board to klatch conversation, buttered clatter concerning absent fellow travelers and soon to be diuretic plunges into Prada pools, Gucci gulch, and the infamous Vuitton vortex. Moving briskly through swirling fried egg, tea and Morning in Paris, lithesome waiters clear away sufficient debris to feed the Third World for a short ice age. Meanwhile beyond the aquarium wall, another round of Henry the VIIIth wannabes stare through, resolutely enduring the ninety minute Chinese water torture for their shot at dyspeptic immortality.

Tokyo Sat 03/09/02