By Rey Waters
When I first came to Ibaraki, Japan, I asked my Japanese friends who lived here to show me things that they thought might be of interest to me, and they were true to their word; I saw many amazing things in Ibaraki, and elsewhere in Japan. I had an opportunity to come face to face with Japanese culture. I saw summer festivals (まつり), Japanese shrines (神社), Buddhist temples (お寺), beautiful countryside, ocean views, and more. Throughout my travels I dined at several different kinds of restaurants, bars, and izakaya (居酒屋). Out of all of the cities that I visited, it became clear to me that Mito City was my favorite. Mito has the perfect combination of culture, countryside, and city life, as well as an excellent selection of unique dining choices, but Mito has more than variety, I discovered; it has one of the most unique and appealing bars in Japan: The Drunken Duck.
Some time ago, I started hearing rumors about The Drunken Duck; the bar’s name became familiar to me, even though I had never been there. It was common for someone to ask: “Have you been to The Drunken Duck yet?” I would often reply, “No, I haven’t,” and unfailingly be met with astonished gazes. “You must go.” I wondered: what could be so fascinating about this place? Why are all my friends talking about it? I just couldn’t understand the phenomenon. I had been told that the bar was a “Gaijin bar”, in other words, a place where foreigners often go, but why would anyone be interested in going to a bar that was filled with people who spoke the same language that you do? Wasn’t the point of living in Japan to experience Japanese culture? Besides, who wants to eat cheeseburgers when you can have Japanese food? I was soon to find out just how silly I was for asking myself these questions, and how silly I was for waiting as long as I did to visit The Drunken Duck.
The Drunken Duck is more than a Gaijin bar; it’s a place where all types of people can feel welcome and relaxed. Like Mito, the Drunken Duck offers a little bit of everything: smoked salmon carpaccio, spicy jalapeno chicken tortilla wraps, cheese platters, chips and dip, salads, onion rings, pizza, seafood, burgers, kebabs, nachos, enchiladas, fajitas, and everything else - from coffee to kangaroo. Yes, you read that correctly: kangaroo. The Drunken Duck menu offers kangaroo fillet, and various other kangaroo concoctions. Crocodile is also a favorite, served in a variety of ways. The meals are uniquely flavored by the Drunken Duck’s professionally trained culinary extraordinaire (who also happens to be the owner), with spices that you might never have heard of, but that will surely tantalize your taste buds, such as “ghost pepper,” which is used for flavoring some of the meats. The front of the Duck’s menu makes it clear that the food can be special ordered, when it says: “If you’re having trouble deciding on what to eat, or you feel like something that is not on the menu, please do not hesitate to ask one of the Drunken Duck’s Professional Chefs, they can recommend something, alter existing meals, or cook a specialized dish just for you.” The drink selection is no less extensive, and offers imports from nearly every country. Beers that are difficult to find in Japan nearly anywhere else are available on tap, and the Drunken Duck’s professional staff is always willing to concoct a cocktail to your liking.
In short, The Drunken Duck has everything anyone could ever need, in one place, and at an affordable price. The servers are beautiful, cheery, and welcoming. The owner and chef is a genius with food, the atmosphere is comfortable and appealing, and the mixed bag of people that frequent the Drunken Duck are sure to offer a variety of compelling conversations for a patron to take part in, while he or she enjoys all that the bar has to offer. Finding something to dislike about the Drunken Duck is a difficult task. No matter what someone might say about the many ducks they meet in life, it cannot be denied that, should someone visit this duck, they couldn’t help but say, “That’s one likeable duck.”
A note to the reader: A second Drunken Duck location, in Katsuta, is, I hear, as entertaining as the Mito location that I have just written about; however, I have no experience with it and so this article relates to the Mito location. Based upon my experience with the Mito Drunken Duck, I would not hesitate to recommend the Katsuta location prematurely.
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My name is Philip Gregory. I live and work in Japan as the chair of the English department and head of Marketing for a language school in Ibaraki. I have traveled throughout Japan, and visited Japan as a tourist prior to living here. I am an author and musician, and a secular humanist. You can find me on Youtube by searching my name, or on my blog: www.pgregoryspeaks.blogspot.com