Friends had recommended Koya Bar in London knowing my fondness for Japanese food, and also because I like an unconventional breakfast now and then. It was perfect: unlike most Japanese places, Koya opens at 8.30am. It had me looking forward to breakfast after an early morning flight, before I went on to meet friends.
I walked in solo—hoping to clear my head of sleeplessness, using the me-time to prepare for the string of people I had to meet in a very short span of time, and just for being in London in general since I stopped being used to the city’s whirlwind pace years ago. As is the case with most popular London eating spots, there was a haphazard queue. I looked up at the first man I saw and instinctively said: “table for one”.
“I don’t work here,” he said, self-assured and half-smiling.
I felt the need to apologise profusely. “I am SO sorry.”
He decided to turn up the charm. “That’s okay. I can still get you a table. Do you want this one, or this one?” he said pointing at the two nearest seats.
“Forgive me.” I gave him a quick bow of the head to assure him I didn’t find my blunder funny. He seemed both unfazed and amused.
A waitress took the guy and his friend to their seats. After attending to two others, she came up to show me to mine, which ended up being right next to the guy and his friend.
Don’t tell me this is going to be another version of my meet-cute on a flight sometime ago, I thought.
My first instinct is always to make conversation, but I held back since he was with a friend. I sensed he was equally unsure, despite me being on my own (or, perhaps, precisely because I was).
He constantly looked at me as I asked for a menu, a phone charger and generally talked to the waitress. I felt a little bit scrutinised, but wasn’t sure what exactly he was trying to pinpoint. My intuition told me he was trying to identify what country my accent was from.
The waitress got us three menus, and we browsed through them self-consciously.
Read Part-II here.