Akitaya Toriyaki, Hamamatsucho, Tokyo, Japan

If you don’t go out of your comfort zone every now and then when you travel you are possibly missing out.

On a rainy Friday evening in Tokyo in the Hamamatsucho area I pulled up a map looking for yakitori and there was one with pretty good reviews less than 100 metres away.

As I walked around the corner I saw a bustling restaurant with a seated area that was chock-a-block full with a queue of people waiting for tables. Outside on the footpath was a standing area with small shelves for your food and drink.

I got a standing space and quickly ordered a beer while they found an English menu for me.

My beer and menu arrived and then I had one of the biggest oh-shit moments I’ve had in my life… here’s the menu!

Yep, this was an offal yakitori restaurant, and it was doing a roaring trade.

As I looked at my full pint of beer I knew I had to order something, but what? In my mind the lesser of 9 evils was the Kashira (Meat on part of the head) which I’d guessed (well, hoped) would be something like pork cheek, and not brain!

I ordered and waited with some trepidation as my heady meal was cooked over charcoal a couple of metres away.

And then the moment of truth arrived, 2 skewers of meat with, I think, a little mustard on the side was placed in front of me. I picked up one, had a look and I could see layers that looked like skin, fat and meat, and a sense of relief came over me as I convinced myself that this was cheek.

I could now have my beer and snack without retching.

In the end it tasted good but I called it quits after the 2 skewers as it dawned on me that my tasty pork cheek was cooked on the same grill as the other more exotic dishes.

The moral of this story is – look at the food menu before you order a pint of beer!

Comfort zone was well and truly broken today.