I'd like to think of myself as a qualified hangover expert. I grew up in Kentucky, a stone's throw from the Woodford Reserve distillery. I minored in OMG Too Much Booze at culinary school (emphasis on minored; I graduated at 20) and have worked my entire adult life in the hard-drinking realm of restaurant kitchens. But I'd never known the true meaning of a hangover til one infamous night in Shinjuku with the Green Fairy.
It started off so intellectually, a night out with classmates to celebrate passing our school's JLPT3 equivalent. So when faced with a cocktail menu populated by easy-to-read katakana drinks like jin tonikku and mohiito, we all chose an illustrious, kanji laden drink called tengokuhenokaidan.
What we knew: it meant "stairway to heaven," tasted like a dream, and was made with abusen.
What we didn't know: that meant legit, wormwood-laced absinthe.
I only remember three things from that night. An endless parade of drinks garnished with flaming sugar cubes. Slipping onto the last subway car out of Shinjuku Station with my friend yelling from the platform, "you're on the wrong train!" Walking barefoot from Minowa to Minamisenju.
To say I had a hangover the next morning would understate the world-collapsing pain of the absinthe fueled hell I woke to. I survived only thanks the restorative powers of oyakodon. It means "parent and child," a winking reference to the fate of the chicken and egg poached in the same salty sweet broth and served together over warm rice.
If you don't dwell on the worrisome eggistential implications, everything else about this dish will comfort and restore.