after GC left for work, i had some time to unbox the waterpik and give it a try. growing up, my father had a waterpik which i used occasionally for fun. it was very primitive compared to this new unit i bought, more than 3 decades later. it's sort of big and sits conspicuously on the bathroom counter by the sink. it came with an assortment of different tips (orthodontic, plaque removal, toothbrush, fine pik) but i just picked out the most generic one. initially i didn't attach the tip securely enough to the tethered wand so watered pour out of the handle the moment i turned on the waterpik. once i firmly attached the tip, it was fine sailing. the thing they don't tell you is how loud a waterpik machine can get, like running a little generator. it's also not like brushing where you can watch where you're going in the mirror. the thing i learned right away is not to use the waterpik with my mouth open, as i ended up spraying water everywhere. you basically just feel for the pulsing jet of water and angle it onto your gumline blindly. the water tank - though big - didn't seem like enough as i ran out of water before i finished cleaning. i'll probably get faster and better at using it with time. it has a dial with setting all the way up to 10, but i found that anything below an 8 was simply too weak for cleaning.
eliza - here in town for july - was paying me a visit from newburyport. she sent e-mail this morning saying she might be a little late - 11:30am or so - but arrived exactly on time at 11am.
we chatted in the kitchen while drinking tea. today was a good day for a hot beverage despite being in the middle of july as there was an unexpected chill in the air. eliza gifted me a tube of chestnut paste. we ended up chatting until 12:30pm before deciding we should get something to eat. i let eliza borrow a sherpa wool hoodie while i fished out a jacket for myself from the closet.
i took eliza on a detour to my community garden plot. dave just happened to be there, whom i haven't seen all season long. he ended up taking up all my time, telling me how he went on a 2 month trip to southeastern china then northern vietnam. "you should go [to vietnam]," he told me; i didn't bother telling him i'd already been. only after he finally left did i have a chance to show eliza the plants i was growing, and take a tour of some of the other plots.
eventually we made it down to harvard square. the plan was to find gyu-kaku, the famed japanese barbecue place of my dreams. i'd never seen it before but according to google map the place exist and wasn't closed. the alternative plan was to get a burger and shake from the shake shack. first i thought it was in the building above staples, but when we went up and looked, there was only an indian restaurant and some nondescript asian place that looked like a cafeteria (definitely not gyu-kaku).
an interesting note: the wagamama noodle shop downstairs seemed to be closed, which was unusual, but perhaps they close shop for the afternoon only to open up later. but i discovered afterwards that the restaurant was actually closed for good, their last day this past sunday. reason: 10-year lease was over, they decided not to renew, which says something about the rent price in harvard square that a successful restaurant chain couldn't make it work on the long run. i'd known about wagamama and was always curious, but also thought it was some fancy over-priced ramen noodles, and once it became popular, the contrarian in me never did seriously consider a visit. there are still two wagamama in boston: faneuil hall and the prudential center, with plans of opening a new place at the seaport district. but if i want ramen i can always cook it at home.
so we continued searching, tracing around the perimeter of the building clockwise to eliot street. while eliza got some cash from the ATM, i went ahead to scout, where i finally discovered gyu-kaku, above the IHOP.
the place had a very cool ambience, like a hidden restaurant. since it was already the afternoon the place was empty except for one long table of about 20 coworkers on an extended lunch break (i remember those!). the waitress sat us in a booth that was large enough to easily sit 6 people.
although gyu-kaku is a japanese barbecue restaurant, i associate it with korean barbecue, and a lot of items on the menu are korean inspired. typically korean barbecue can be pricey, but i discovered that gyu-kaku has a pretty (relatively) cheap lunch menu. i got the 3 meat lunch special ($14.95) which comes with miso soup, a salad, and rice, along with 3 choices of barbecue meats. i ended up selecting huromon miso, yaki shabu beef miso, and beef tongue (with was a $3 extra option). eliza went with the more conservative 2 meat special and ordered the chicken basil and the bistro hanger steak miso. i also ordered a plate of addictive spicy cabbage ($4), intrigued by the description.
eliza had never had korean barbecue before, so this was her first experience in the exciting world of barbecue-your-own-meat cuisine. the first and only time i ate at gyu-kaku was more than 12 years ago in ebisu (tokyo), with alex and claudio. it was by far the best korean barbecue i've ever had, and even to this day i still remember it. i had something called "hormone" which nobody could explain what it was but it was tasty, so when i saw it on the menu i made sure to order it. i didn't realize gyu-kaku was a chain store until i saw it in taiwan, but only through the window on a bus as we passed by. since then it's been a dream of mine to eat there again, whether in taipei, or in tokyo. i thought it was exclusively asian, until i saw a gyu-kaku in brookline back in april when i took karen and miguel to see the boston marathon. then when i went online, i found out i didn't actually have to go down to brookline, that there was in fact a gyu-kaku right here in harvard square, my backyard. ever since then i've been waiting for an opportunity to eat here. today was the day.
the soap and salad arrived first, followed by the assortment of different meats. there's a certain visceral element to korean barbecue, that close proximity to raw flesh can be unappetizing for some people. there was a wait on our rice so we began to barbecue.
the yaki shabu beef tasted like typical korean bulgogi. the tongue was bland and tongue, not worth ordering again for future visits. i discovered that huromon is actually intestines, it didn't taste how i remembered it, mostly fat with a bit of intestinal wall lining crunch. i didn't give eliza any huromon to try and she wasn't interested anyway. eliza's bistro hanger steaks were really good, a delicious marinade that didn't need any additional sauce. the chicken was chicken, i didn't really taste any of the basil. we finished eating by 3:15pm, after spending more than an hour with our japanese barbecue adventure.
we stopped in a few stores looking for a suitable birthday present for one of eliza's nieces. we went to urban outfitters, a place i haven't visited in over a decade. there was a particular smell in the store - not unpleasant, more nostalgic - that made my head spin a little bit. we then went to black ink, where they had a lot of cool little knick knacks, but nothing that seemed like a suitable birthday present. we ended up heading back.
it was getting late and it was almost 4pm. eliza returned my jacket and visitor's parking permit and headed down to the south shore, hoping to avoid the traffic.
i tried the waterpik again, figuring it'd be a proper test after having lunch. the pik did manage to flush out a piece of lettuce stuck between my molars and a few additional bits of barbecue debris. it felt like flossing but without the actual floss and a lot noisier. although i didn't see any, there was also a faint taste of blood in my mouth, that similar taste after a teeth cleaning.
i went back to my community garden plot to cut off all the tomato leaves affected by early season blight. i removed a lot, i hope what leaves remain will be enough to mature the green tomato fruits. the cherry tomatoes seemed to be the most affected since they have thin stalks and branches. one of the two varieties of larger tomatoes doesn't seem to have any blight, while the other has a little. i think the good variety is the best boy, while the heirloom lifer is susceptible. currently i don't think it's easy to buy blight-resistant tomato seeds, at least none of the big seed sellers carry them (burpees, park). at this rate i might decide to forgo planting tomatoes next season and plant other vegetables, like eggplants, which so far don't have any diseases and the only pests were early season slugs.
before i went to bed i used the waterpik one last time. first i flossed, then i used the waterpik, finally the electric toothbrush, followed by a mouthwash rinse. this is all a novelty phase; i can't imagine doing this every single night. the waterpik was supposed to make my life easier, not to add additional minutes to my nightly bedtime routine. but my teeth felt super clean afterwards, like i just visited the dentist. of course i felt that way the first time i used my electric toothbrush, and i don't feel that way anymore.