Cheap Shot | Roll Before You Crawl: Getting unpredictable at The Republican, Piper Down, Tokyo Sushi and Willie’s. 

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It starts off like a joke: A man walks into a bar. However, I can attest, this is no joke, because I was the “man.” This man walked into The Republican (917 S. State). Sitting at the bar were two guys, guys like Statler and Waldorf, the two old men on The Muppet Show who heckled the cast.

“Hey,” Statler said to Waldorf, “that’s the guy who gets drunk, then writes about it in the City Weekly.”

“I don’t know what’s worse,” Waldorf said to Statler, “that he writes about it or that we read it.” SFX CUE: Canned laughter from the peanut gallery.

“Seriously,” Statler said to me, “How did you convince the City Weekly to give you a column? Did you say, ‘First I’ll go to a bar and get drunk. And then, get this, I’ll write about it.’”

“Actually,” I said, “It’s slightly more complicated than that. Besides, sometimes I write about my cat.”

Throughout the remainder of the Republican night, each time I ordered a Tetley’s or Jameson on the rocks, Statler would comment or Waldorf would heckle, “Phil is really getting tanked. I bet he writes about tonight.”

A man walked out of a bar knowing the joke was on them, because I don’t write stories about places I frequent on a regular basis. I prefer my diamonds to remain unpolished. This is why you won’t read about Sunday night classic country with a live band at The Republican or Monday night poker at Piper Down (1492 S. State). These are my nights. Harvest your own blood diamonds.

Still, the words of these two teasers tormented me, because I felt like they were saying, “Your column is predictable.” So, the next day, I went to the City Weekly’s office and asked my editor if I could tackle a subject matter outside the realm of cheap. Possibly write about haute couture or cuisine. Stuff that is a bit more palatable to the palate than burgers, fries, wings or Tetley’s. Specifically: Sushi.

I was told “No.” No, as in, “We have a real food reviewer.” No, as in, “You’ll probably write about how your cat also likes fish.” And absolutely no, as in, “You’d most likely send your food back to the chef because your sushi was undercooked.”

“Yeah,” I thought, “like that would happen again.”

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“But,” I said, “Tokyo Sushi crosses into my realm, because it’s inexpensive sushi served in a restaurant that looks like it was once a pizza parlor. You sit in a booth, drink sake, beer and the most expensive item is only $11. The Tokyo Big Roll? Highly recommend it. And, the capper? I think this is the best sushi in Salt Lake.”

Still, No. But, as I walking out of the City Weekly office, even the company masseuse put down her palm frond and asked where Tokyo Sushi was located.

“Go to 725 East and 3300 South,” I said. “You won’t be disappointed. Well, I’m off to find something cheap.”

A man walks into a bar. This time the bar is Willie’s (1716 S. Main). Willie’s is the “Finest Dive Bar in Salt Lake City” with foosball, pool tables, dartboards and even wooden-nickel specials. You can buy actual wooden nickels—four for $6—and each woodchip can be redeemed for a draft beer.

Wait a second! When this man walked into Willie’s, what was that in his hand? Why it looks like this guy stopped into Tokyo Sushi on his way to Willie’s and brought some take-out with him. Even beneath the neon glow of a Bud Light sign, the seaweed and squid salad still looked delicious, and it was only $4.50. Luckily, the $1.25 draft beer at Willie’s was able to wash down this guy’s wasabi-laden hot chili Mexico roll.

While the combination of sushi and Salt Lake’s finest dive bar might seem like a joke, I can attest it was not. Because that “guy” who walked into Willie’s with take-out from Tokyo Sushi was me. The guy who loves his cat. Meow.

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Phil Jacobsen

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