Obama dreams of tempura: The Tokyo restaurant where even the US President can’t get a table

A Sunday newspaper in my native England used to run a column called “Can you get a table?” in which reporters would call fully-booked high-end restaurants claiming to be representing various celebrities of differing degrees of fame, and see whether they could wrangle a table for that night. A-listers tended to garner responses along the lines of “yes, I think that can be arranged”, while talent show contestants were more likely to be met with apologies and mumbling. Thus, order in celeb-land was successfully maintained.

I was amused and impressed, therefore, to read that there’s a restaurant in Tokyo that can’t even make room for the most powerful man on the planet to have dinner with the Japanese Prime Minister. When Obama met Shinzo Abe last week, Abe took him for world-class sushi at Sukiyabashi Jiro. However, sushi wasn’t Abe’s first choice. He wanted to take Obama-san to Tempura Kondo, but the booked-out restaurant turned them down. “Customers with reservations are more important,” the owner is reported to have said. “Even for the President of the United States, I can’t disappoint my customers who already made bookings.”

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