What a day

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They insist that “all’s well that ends well,” but what a lesson about the importance of breakfast. My longtime friend, Mako, is my primary authority on all things Japanese, so I immediately accepted his suggestion that we lunch at Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ (14457 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks). Mako was at the wheel and seemed fine as he drove the Ventura freeway, parked, and waited for a table at the spacious, but always busy, restaurant.
“I’m so hungry” my friend commented as we were seated. Then he opened the menu and promptly passed out; dead away and totally unresponsive. It was unnerving… make that scary. Naturally, my cell phone was locked in the car back in Burbank, but a bewildered and obliging young server dialed 911. Mako has a cardiac history and relies on a pacemaker. By the time the Paramedics team arrived, he had begun to rally and revealed that he‘d taken his round of morning medications without food. “I had just a little fruit cocktail. I was saving my appetite for lunch” he mumbled… Still half-conscious, Mako recited his considerable daily intake of prescriptions, a through z, by memory, and in Latin. The several pills included a blood thinner and a blood pressure control.
The rescue team transported us to the nearby Sherman Oaks Hospital where ER ran every test in the book. “I get shaky when I don‘t eat” he explained time and again, and I shuddered to ponder that had he conked a few minutes earlier, we’d have been in freeway traffic, and in deep doo-doo.
Four hours and several specialists later, he was released with an admonition to consult his primary physician. We taxied back to Gyu-Kaku where Mako insisted he was fine, but “really starving.” So was I. We proceeded to dinner. Food has seldom tasted so good!
An extended til 6:30 lunch, “happy hour” was in full swing which meant that all appetizers were half-price, typically around $3, and all meats, presented in raw pieces to be cooked over the glowing recessed table grill, were only $2.95 per piece. We feasted on ample Shrimp Poke, fried curls of Calamari, Pork Gyoza and a tender Sukiyaki Beef entrée with bowls of steamed white rice, and reluctantly stuck with iced tea even though draft Budweiser was just 99 cents and a large carafe of hot Sake cost only $5.
Our server moved like greased lightning with every request, and the dinner tab for two was a modest $40. Of course regular prices between discount hours will up the ante considerably. The S.O. corner mall location is closed on Sundays.
Perhaps every morsel tasted even better because my close buddy’s condition had been favorably resolved. Just in case, we took surface streets back to Burbank. The next day, Mako’s internist found that his patient was still taking an old and potentially conflictive prescription, a double whammy on an empty stomach. If only he’d had cereal and toast in the morn’, the entire incident would surely have been avoided. Well, we live and learn. So please take heed, and take time for breakfast.
The primarily young and festive crowd at Gyu was quite friendly, but really noisy. Gyu has several Southland locations where the action invariably gets even more frenetic after 9:30 week nights and after 10 ‘til closing time on weekends when the very happy hour resumes. It strikes me as a perfect place to party it up!

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The Curious Palate

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