It was like stepping into a tiny 1960s London police box and finding myself in Dr. Who’s TARDIS, suddenly unconstrained by the stifling dimensions of space and time. From the outside the restaurant looked physically tiny and claustrophobically crowded. Inside, the dimensions seemed infinitely spacious. But instead of being swept into Dr. Who’s divided universe of perpetual war between good and evil, I had entered the meditative kitchen of an amazing Zen universe, which felt whole and welcoming.
I don’t know if the Japanese restaurant in Montreal was Buddhist, but it doesn’t matter. Watching the cooks and servers move in almost complete silence, preparing and presenting our food in a softly choreographed dance of graceful efficiency, transported me into a state of internal peace that passes religious understanding.
There were no signs promising a transformative eating experience (although the Japanese name of the restaurant, Kazu, may mean “calm, peace, concord, serenity”). Everything appeared to be quite ordinary, which reassures me that the spirituality of my experience was real. That sacred space reminds me that I don’t have to live in Dr. Who’s universe. None of us do. We all have a choice.