As You Like It

Kaori, 26, is part of an okonomiyaki family dynasty in Hiroshima. A regional specialty, okonomiyaki, literally meaning “as you iike it,” is a savory pancake usually consisting of cabbage, pork belly, and in Hiroshima, Chinese noodles. When her father dies, her uncle takes over the eatery and kicks Kaori out of the business, forcing her to try to introduce the family recipe to New York City, where her best friend now lives. While Kaori is ambitious, she’s also naïve and is taken advantage of in both business and romance. Will she learn from her mistakes, or will her family’s okonomiyaki legacy die in America?

Read Chapter One

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Chapter Twelve—Get Back in There

Six months later

In Japan, it was all about family and your family name. That’s why men were adopted into families that had no sons. So the family name could continue.

For the past six months, I’ve been thinking a lot about family—in general and about my specific one. But the Time Out New York reporter’s question still throws me off.

“So, Kaori, tell me about your family restaurant back in Hiroshima. It’s called Aka Okonomiyaki, right?”

The reporter has done his homework, in spite of him not knowing the Japanese language besides maguro and kawaii. He’s found some …

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Chapter Eleven—Hiroshima World

We have only forty-eight hours to bring Hiroshima World to Manhattan. I take that back. Now forty-seven hours.

We’re turning our apartment—well, our apartment for the next forty-seven hours—into a most magical traveling adventure to our hometown, Hiroshima.

My best friend Risa has hand drawn the invitations and used her department’s photocopy machine to do some guerrilla printing. (Not that easy because she needed to steal the code.) She’s taken photos of the invitation with her phone and posted it all over social media.

If she’s doing all of that, what am I doing? I’m in charge of all the …

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Chapter Ten—Kappa Power

I saw my first homeless person in Japan when I was visiting Tokyo. Actually there were a whole group of them on the lower level of a train station. It was winter and snow was on the ground outside.

Hiroshima, though, not so much.

I am, however, on my way to be the first homeless Hiroshima person outside the country. And my best friend and present roommate, Risa, is going to be the second.

I’ve had a place to live in Manhattan due to Risa’s kindness, or should I say the generosity of her European benefactor, Frederick. That is now …

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Chapter Nine—Clipped

In Japanese folktales, old women are sometimes cast as the “bad guys.” You see it in “Tongue-Cut Sparrow,” in which an elderly lady clips the tongue of a sparrow who snacks on some rice starch for clothes hanging to dry outside. This mean, greedy woman then pushes her way into the Sparrow World and is offered two gifts—one heavy and the other small. Of course, she selects the big one and is terrorized by some demons who are hidden inside.

Well, in my life, I am terrorized by a demon. One named Norio and he’s not an old woman, but …

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Chapter Eight—Turning Japanese

It takes Gen some time to calm Tom down. After all, I, his enemy, have taken over his grill. It doesn’t matter whether you are from Hiroshima, Japan, or Harlem, New York City. No chef should invade another chef’s cooking space, even if it’s outdoors in the middle of a food festival.

“Maybe I should stop,” I say to Risa, as I flip over another okonomiyaki.

“Are you kidding me? Look at the line. If you don’t give these people what they want, we’ll really be in trouble.” Risa returns to chopping another head of cabbage. Her art skills …

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As You Like It fiction food Naomi Hirahara naomi hirahara New York new york okonomiyaki