LAS VEGAS — (Only kidding. I’m still in Gardena wishing I could open my column with a Vegas dateline.) Yeah, it’s been about three months since I visited my favorite city. Hopefully it won’t be another three months before I can use Vegas as my dateline.

Well, maybe some people miss me more than I miss the place. One reader who lives in Vegas even sent me an email asking, “Hey, Horse, where are you?”

If he is reading today’s column, he will know. I’m still looking for a driver.

I know. A number of people asked me, “Why don’t you take the bus?” or  “Why don’t you fly?”

Naw. If I can’t drive my car to Vegas, I’ll be sitting at home trying to put together my column.

Well, if I fly I might be able to see the LAX International Terminal, which opened a week ago. The new terminal cost the city an estimated $1.9 billion.

Travelers headed for Tokyo, Singapore and Seoul will be using the new terminal.

The new terminal’s food court will open this coming week, and will include eateries with Japanese names like Umami and Chaya, which means they will be catering to travelers from Japan.

I would like to drop in at the new terminal and grab a bite at the Japanese eatery. I’m curious what is on its menu and the type of “Nihon shoku” they will  be selling to visitors from Japan.


Maybe you can say it’s a bit ironic. In the opening of today’s column, I mentioned that a restaurant at the new L.A. Airport terminal is called Umami and I assumed it was a Japanese establishment.

Much to my surprise as I was thumbing through a stack of news items, there was an article touching on “Umami.”

Here’s how the article started: “Umani is sometimes defined as a flavor behind all flavors, the flavor that cannot be described, but my waitress at Umami Burger in Greenwich Village has no time for such reveries.

“‘Umami’ is the word for savory in Japanese,’ she says, ‘and all of our burgers are crafted to bring out that good taste sensation.’”

Whoa. Unami is a hamburger stand?

At any rate, the article continued:

“Behind her, on the back wall, hangs a black-and-white image of Kikunae Ikeda, the Japanese chemist who isolated monosodium glutamate (Ajinomoto) and assigned the name ‘umami’ to its briny, verging on rot, almost extraterrestrial potency.

“Umami Burger started with a single shop in Los Angeles in 2009. According to the restaurant chain’s scrappy back story, a frustrated screenwriter with no professional culinary training devised the burger recipe in his home kitchen in a single day.

“Today, there are 20 locations in California, including the new one at the LAX terminal.

“So, just what is an Umami Burger?

“The meat is premium choice steak, coarsely ground and patted softly into a loose 6-ounce round, the texture nostalgically reminiscent of a meat loaf. This is seared on a plancha grill, whose surface concentrates heat like a cast-iron skillet. The bun is Portuguese in style, vaguely sweet.

“Then comes the umami, in the form of proprietary Umami Master Sauce. Its ingredients include but are not limited to soy, seaweed, tamari, miso and umami dust, which involves ground-up dried porcinis and dried fish head.

“The meat, cooked medium rare unless requested otherwise, is juicy, with a dark crust.”

Okay, all of you who feel you’d like to give it a try, as mentioned earlier, the new site at LAX will be open next week, according to the information I received.

Oh yeah, prices on the new burger range from $4 to $15.


While touching on things Japanese, a brand of Japanese whiskey, in the past regarded by Americans as little more than Scotch imitation, has been gaining a following in the U.S.

The reason, it has its own silky texture and subtle, complex flavor that comes partly from experimentation with blending.

This fall, the Japanese distiller Nikka, which began exporting to the U.S. last fall, is introducing four offerings.

A bit pricey, the cost of the new Japanese product starts at $70 and goes up to $120, $150 and $180.

Fall sale begins next month.


Will toss in a short note from a reader who asked me: “Hey, Horse, I keep reading about your lack of visits to Vegas because you don’t have anyone to help you drive. Have you considered going to one of the several Indian casinos in the Southern California area? You should be able to drive to one of them since they are only an hour or so away from Gardena.”

Yeah, I’ve given them some thought but haven’t considered them as a substitute for Vegas.

I’ve gone to Pechanga in Temecula a few times. It’s about 85 miles from Gardena but somehow Indian casinos don’t have the same appeal to me when comparing them with my favorite site in Vegas (The Cal), and a lot of my Nisei friends express the same feeling.

Hey, going to an Indian casino is supposed to be fun, not just close.


Not happy with your job? Here’s something that may surprise everyone:

A recent study showed that people who are 50 and older say they are satisfied with their jobs. Older workers report satisfaction regardless of gender, race, education level, political ideology or income level.

Consider Oscar Martinez. He is considered one of Disneyland’s happiest workers and he is 77 years of age.

As a chef, he has already done a lifetime of work. He rises at 3 a.m. to work at one of the park’s restaurants. He has been doing it for 57 years. He is Disneyland’s longest-serving employee.

Though research has shown people across age groups are more likely to report job satisfaction than dissatisfaction, older workers consistently have expressed more happiness with their work than younger people.

The survey found significant minorities of people reporting unwelcome comments at work about their age, being passed over for raises and promotions, and other negative incidents related to being older. But it was far more common to note the positive impact of their age. They felt they were receiving more respect at work.

Well, I know that at my age, I might fit into the opinion expressed above.

Let’s face it. I’m not “spring” anything in my late 80s and I know I enjoy writing a column a lot more than I did when I was, say, 50 years old.

Older workers generally have already climbed the career ladder, increased their salaries and reached positions where they have greater security, so more satisfaction makes sense, says Tom Smith, director of the General Social Survey, one of the most comprehensive polls of American attitudes.

“It increases with age. The older you are, the more of these job-related benefits you’re going to have,” said Smith.

Looking at the 40-year history of the GSS, the share of people saying they are very to moderately satisfied with their jobs rises steadily with each ascending age group, from just about 80 percent for those under 30 to about 92 percent for those 65 or older.

Smith says, “Earlier in life, people are uncertain what career path they want to take and may be stuck in job they despise. Though some older workers stay on the job out of economic necessity, many others keep working because they can’t imagine quitting and genuinely like their jobs.”

So, unless Publisher Mickey tosses me out of the door, I’ll keep the Horse’s Mouth going.

(Maggie’s comment: Yipeeeeeee! Write on, Mr. Y.)


As most of you know if you read my chatter, I pick up my cigars an at Indian cigar store in Vegas.

However, because I haven’t been to Vegas, I’ve run out of stogies.

So, I had to go back to my original source, a cigar company known as Thompson’s Cigar with offices in Florida.

I picked up the phone and called them this past week. The lady who answered the phone surprised me by saying she remembers me.

“Well, how have you been?” she asked. When I told her my story, she laughed.

“Don’t worry,” she said, “if you need cigars I’ll have them for you in two days.”

Yes, in two days, I received two boxes of cigars, which should last me until the end of the year. So I’m now chewing on cigars from Florida, not Las Vegas, and would you believe they cost me less than the ones I buy from Vegas?

I guess if any of you readers want to try a stogie from Florida, give me a jingle and I’ll save one for you.

Speaking of cigars, I read an article in USA Today that more and more young people are being attracted to cigars.

Two of every five young smokers in grades 6 through 12 use cigars rather than cigarettes.

Of middle school and high school students who currently smoke, 42 percent report using flavored little cigars, which are often cheaper.

(Maggie’s comment: What a shame! It breaks my heart to type something like this.)

“Flavored or not, little cigars contain the same toxic and cancer-causing ingredients found in cigarettes and are not safe alternatives to cigarettes,” said a director for the Centers for Disease Control.

So, sweet-flavored little cigars, not covered by a federal ban, have gained popularity among young people in the U.S.

Well, I guess old fogies like me who have been chewing cigars for so many years can’t worry about its effects, especially if a cigar company can get me my supply within two days of requesting a few boxes.

Puff, puff.


Laugh time:

A married couple went to the hospital to have their baby delivered. Upon arrival, the doctor said he had invented a new machine that would transfer a portion of the mother’s labor pain to the baby’s father. He asked if they were willing to try it out.

They were both very much in favor of it. The doctor set the pain transfer at 10 percent for starters, explaining that even 10 percent was probably more pain than the father had ever experienced.

However, as the labor progressed, the father felt fine and asked the doctor to go ahead and kick it up a notch.

The doctor then adjusted the machine to 20 percent. The husband was still feeling fine. The doctor checked the husband’s blood pressure and was amazed at how well he was doing. At this point, they decided to try 50 percent. The husband continued to feel quite well.

Since the pain transfer was obviously helping the wife considerably, the husband encouraged the doctor to transfer all the pain to him.

The wife delivered a healthy baby with virtually no pain. She and her husband were ecstatic.

When they got home, the postman was dead on the porch.

Hopefully all of you got to the last paragraph and figured it out. I’m sure most of you tied the last line to the story correctly.

No? Well, try this one.

Two great white sharks swimming in the ocean spied survivors of a sunken ship.

“Follow me, son,” the father shark said as they swam to the mass of people. “First, we swim around them a few times with just the top of our fins showing,” and they did.

“Well done, son. And now we eat them.”

When they were both gorged, the son asked, “Dad, why didn’t we just eat them all instead of first swimming around them?”

The wise father said, “Because they taste better if you scare the crap out of them.”

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via email at horsesmouth2000@homtmail.com. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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