Look at this picture closely and tell me what’s missing. It was taken at an MK Suki restaurant in Bangkok. For those unfamiliar with the MK franchise, please allow me to enlighten you. MK is a classic Sukiyaki restaurant. The dining room floor is populated mostly with large family sized tables with a big electric bowl in the middle used for making sukiyaki, a soup that each table customizes with their own ingredients. Patrons order dozens of ingredients from the menu and slowly add them to the boiling water until it’s just right. Then everyone scoops out portions into their individual bowls adding different kinds of sauces to taste. It’s good, healthy and you can feed an army for very little money.
Thai families love the MK brand and on any given afternoon you’ll witness their business modal in action. This picture was taken around dinner time and features a table full of middle-aged Thai ladies who appear to be enjoying a full-on MK Suki-session.
So what do notice that’s missing? One lady is missing her shoes, but that just kind of goes with the whole MK atmosphere. Nobody just pops into MK and is out in 20 minutes. Normally it’s a marathon meal that stretches over a couple hours, so kicking of the shoes is expected. Nobody appears to be drinking alcohol, so maybe that’s what’s missing. No Chang or Leo or 100 Pipers; just that complimentary strange tasking ice tea they serve only at MK. My ex-wife called it “dishwater tea”. Nobody at this table appears to be shy or coy about eating. In fact, I watched them go at it with reckless abandon for a good 45 minutes. Perhaps a certain amount of “reserve” or “decorum” are what’s missing. Is that it?
While it may be true that shoes, alcohol and reserve may be in short supply at this table; that isn’t what I noticed was missing. I noticed that there are no mobile phones on the table. Not only are there none on the table, I never saw any of these ladies pull one out of their bag to check it either. It was an impressive show of throwback analog defiance.
For the past couple of years I’ve enjoyed getting together for lunch with the same bunch of old codgers I call friends every few months. We have a mobile phone rule. The first guy to pull his phone out to check it has to pay. Maybe these ladies have the same rule.
In any case, I wish this is what was missing from more tables.