The Japanese have this thing called "nomi-tabe-hodai" or, all you can drink, all you can eat. Which to a fat-alcoholic-greedy-American like me really translates to, "try me." It's like a gambling problem: despite the adverse and negative repercussions and the desire to stop you just cannot control the urge, the pathological compulsion to eat and drink as much as you can even though you know it's bad for your health, your waistline and when there's alcohol, your dignity. With two hours to order as much food/drinks as you want, you must get your money's worth, or better yet, turn your 3000 yen into a profit.
The Japanese izakaya is like Texas No Limit. The pre-flop: everyone's in with their drink orders--a lovely umeshu, or plum wine, for my first bet. Then the community cards are dealt: caesar salad, gyoza, braised mushrooms, that fried chicken and mayo thing, that fatty pork cube in broth thing, that fried shrimp and some kinda red sauce goop, and that weird sticky potato thing. A fine hand, outlook's good, I'm in and invested, and you know what, waitress, I'll raise you and everyone else another glass of lovely umeshu. The turn: I'll call your deep fried cheese-su stick-u and edamame, and this time I raise you a glass of anzu, or apricot wine, on the rocks. Two hours of heavy binge eating and drinking later, the American seems to be holding on her last bet, about to fold to the limits of her stomach's allowance. And the flop: ice cream sundae. All in. Actually, screw that. Check, please. PLEASE. In this showdown, all the players fold. As any stubborn addict would begrudgingly admit, the house always wins...and I'm fat and drunk. Off to shrug off the loss of self-control and dance off the gain of weight with some peer counseling at an all-night karaoke bar.