Come to me, by any means necessary, he said. Kim Yong Ah is telling you how she made her journey here, deep into Asakusa 4-chome, district 4, where she runs a Korean izakaya with her husband and two of their four sons. What her husband said, 30 years ago: Come to me and be together, I’ve got some work here.
But she didn’t have money. Somehow she got herself from her hometown on Jeju Island to the port of Busan. Then she stowed away on a ferry to Japan.
They made a life in Tokyo. Had four sons. She got caught without a visa and sent back. Later she fixed up her papers and returned. She says I love Asakusa. They took over this pub, Naruto, 10 years ago. They open from 5pm to 5am. The two youngest sons help out. Kim says there’s 17 years between them. Your friend Yoshiko laughs. That’s pretty good going! You say, Yes good job Mum! Yoshiko says, I was thinking of Dad! He tried hard!
The eldest sons are in Korea. Kim points out the picture of her granddaughter on the cabinet. It’s midnight. Dad’s not so well and has gone to bed early. Kim has just boiled a mountain of fern stems for the namuru tomorrow. Her food is home cooking. The tofu chijimi pancake is really something. The asparagus namuru is unusual and tasty.
It’s wet outside. No one else in the restaurant. Then a big tough guy comes in. He makes straight for the counter, appears to know where eveything is, helps himself to his bottle of Jinro and ice and cold tea and sits drinking wordlessly. Kim says, Many wrestlers come here. You look up the back. There’s a wall of signed placards from martial artists and other celebrities. You can picture the joint rocking, late into the night.
Naruto is at 4-39-2 Asakusa, Taito-ku tel. (for reservations) 050-5570-3393. Inquiries 03-3872-7560. Open 1700–0500. Closed Weds