Stepping out from the escalator, I walked into a wall of hot stiff air. Almost miraculously, I did not knock my head against the wall, but I almost choked when I took in a deep breath. The chilly fresh air just three months ago had decayed and morphed into lumps of air particles bogged together. The crisply cool sensation that runs down the esophagus with each breath taken had been reduced to a mere blockage at the windpipe that induced a dry cough.

The scenes of Azabu Jyuban had not changed a bit: The omnipresent McDonalds, albeit with its ostentatious French announcements, as if bragging its imbuement of foreignness, stood out so much that each passer-by is lured to take a peek at the McDonalds that everyone knows, yet still inquisitive about the air of uniqueness that emanates from within. The first time I was seduced by the les arcs d’or  and stole a glance into it, I was immediately impressed by the chic interior design, the flat-screen cashier ordering machine, the voguish uniform with a scarf. This is not a normal McDonalds for sure, for it stood in the lands of Azabu Jyuban, the land of the rich and foreign.

Continuing down the narrow streets, tall lanky ladies and gentlemen sashay past me, speaking in various languages, of which I grasp a few words, sufficient to infer what country they are from. On a normal day at Azabu jyuban, I would have been on my way to work at a Singapore restaurant. That day was different. Behind me followed three friends craving for Singapore food. Being part of the part-time staff at the restaurant, I am endowed with the privilege of having a meal at the restaurant with three other friends at half price, albeit once a month. With the end of this month looming closer, I brought three friends to enjoy a night of Singapore food.

Instead of changing into my work uniform when I step into the restaurant, I was greeted by my boss and fellow staff at the doorstep. It felt weird that my boss had to serve me, but he did so graciously and professionally. I walked into the restaurant as a customer for the first time, and the four of us sat at the table reserved for us at the back of the restaurant. As we were flipping through the menu and gawking at how delicious they look, as well as the price that tagged along, my boss came over and started a conversation with us.

“Do you drink alcohol?” he asked. Not certain what he meant by that, we barely nodded our heads, probably all thinking “Yes we do, but we won’t be able to afford it here…”

“Well then, as a way to repay the great show you have given me last month, let me treat you to a bottle of sparkling red wine.” My boss had come watch my circle’s performance 2 weeks ago, and he wanted to thank us for putting up such a spectacular show. We watched in a mixture of shock and pleasant surprise as he took out a bottle of Emeri Sparkling Wine from Australia and started pouring into our glasses. We could not contain our excitement as we started snapping shots of the wine and ourselves.

We then ordered several dishes of Singapore food and kicked off a huge feast with wine.

Being a Singaporean, I know never in Singapore would we ever see someone eat chicken rice with Emeri Sparkling Wine, and it was too good to be true. The wine was really good too.

At the end of our long two hour meal, we wrote a message to my boss, and the restaurant for giving us such a memorable night with good food, and took a photo with one of the staff.