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Likely Stories : The Restaurant of Love Regained, by Ito Ogawa


Hi, I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, Non-Fiction, and Poetry.

With hundreds of books in my TBR pile, sometimes it takes years to get to a particular book.  I am not sure how I came across this one, The Restaurant of Love Regained, by Ito Ogawa.  This interesting and absorbing book was released in 2008.  It is a splendid story of love, loss, and Japanese cooking.  Ito was born in 1973 and she authored several children’s books.  She also runs a popular website about cooking, where she supplies daily recipes of Japanese cuisine.

Her story begins, “I came home from my part-time job at the Turkish restaurant to find my apartment empty.  Literally everything was gone.  The television, the washer, the fridge, the lights, the curtains.  Even the entrance mat had been taken!  Not a single thing had been spared.  For a moment, I wanted to believe I’d walked into the wrong apartment.  But no matter how many times I checked, there was no changing the fact I was standing in the love nest I’d shared with my Indian boyfriend, with its heart-shaped stain on the ceiling staring down as indelible evidence” (3). 

Even though she had a difficult time calling on her mother for help, she traveled far to see her.  “My mother’s house was in a quiet village surrounded by mountains.  Nature was all around, and I loved that place from the bottom of my heart.  But on the night of my high-school graduation, I’d boarded a night bus—like the one I was on now—and set off on a one-way journey.  Since that day, my only contact with my mother had been through the exchange of New Year’s cards. 

Several years after I left home, my mother sent me a New Year’s card bearing a photo of her dressed as a street performer, sitting shoulder to shoulder with her new pet in a flowery dress. 
That’s how I found out that my mum had replaced me with a pet pig” (8).  Ito was fifteen years old then.

She had “a wallet containing just a handful of loose change,” but she managed by making “rice balls every morning to take to work.  The Turkish restaurant where I worked was too cheap to provide free meals for its staff and my boyfriend and I were doing our best to save money so that one day we could open up a restaurant of our own.  For a moment, I wonder if there was any chance this plan might still go ahead.  Those thoughts were washed away, as if a bucket of white paint had been poured right through my mind” (15).

With the help of some friends, Ito managed to clean up an abandoned building, paint it, buy some utensils, and other items necessary to open a small restaurant she called, The Snail.  Ito Ogawa’s The Restaurant of Love Regained is a wonderful story of pluck, hard work, and love.  5 Stars!

Likely Stories is a production or KWBU.  I’m Jim McKeown.  Join me again next time for Likely Stories, and Happy Reading!

Life-long voracious reader, Jim McKeown, is an English Instructor at McLennan Community College. His "Likely Stories" book review can be heard every Thursday on KWBU-FM! Reviews include fiction, biographies, poetry and non-fiction. Join us for Likely Stories every Thursday featured during Morning Edition and All Things Considered with encore airings Saturday and Sunday during Weekend Edition.